Cotton Lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus)

S. incana.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Cotton Lavender
Santolina chamaecyparissus

Plants can be grown as a low formal hedge and used as an edging plant[200]. The plant is very tolerant of shearing[200]. In less exposed areas the plants can be trimmed in the autumn, otherwise they need to be cut by early April if they are to be allowed to flower[245].

Plants can also be grown for ground cover[190]. They are best spaced about 60cm apart each way[208].

The leaves are strewn amongst clothes to repel moths etc[4, 15, 18, 20, 100]. The growing plant repels various insect pests, especially cabbage moths[201]. The dried leaves are used in pot-pourri[238].

An essential oil from the leaves is used in perfumery[4], the oil is also obtained from the flowers[168].

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves and flowering tops are antispasmodic, disinfectant, emmenagogue, stimulant and vermifuge[4, 7, 11, 201]. Cotton lavender is rarely used medicinally[238], though it is sometimes used internally as a vermifuge for children and to treat poor digestion and menstrual problems[4, 238]. When finely ground and applied to insect stings or bites, the plant will immediately ease the pain[7]. Applied to surface wounds, it will hasten the healing process by encouraging the formation of scar tissue[7]. The leaves and flowering stems are harvested in the summer and dried for later use[238].

  • Edible Use

    The aromatic leaves are used as a flavouring for broths, sauces, grain dishes etc[15, 183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The bruised leaves have been known to cause a severe rash on sensitive skins[182].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Does not require pre-treatment[113]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, 5 – 8 cm long with a heel, July/August in a frame. Roots within 2 weeks. High percentage[78]. The heeled cuttings can also be placed direct into the open garden in early July and should be well-rooted by the winter[245]. Division in spring or autumn[111]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Layering.
An easy and undemanding plant that does not require a rich soil, though it strongly dislikes wet conditions around the roots[1, 11, 15, 200]. Prefers a light sandy fairly poor soil on a sunny slope[200]. Prefers a chalky soil[190]. Established plants are drought tolerant[190]. They succeed in a hot dry position[190]. Hardy to about -15¡c when in a well-drained soil. A very wind hardy plant, it succeeds on the top of Cornish dry-stone walls[49]. A very ornamental plant[1], there are several named varieties[245]. Cotton lavender tolerates shearing so long as this is not done at times of low resistance (winter?)[200]. Plants can be cut back hard in spring to maintain their form[200, 208], though this will prevent them flowering[208]. A good companion plant for roses[201]. Flowers are produced on two year old wood[182]. The leaves are very aromatic[190]. The bruised leaves are pleasantly pungent, though the flowers have an unpleasant smell[245]. The form S. chamaecyparissus nana has a more pungent aroma than the type[245]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
Europe – Mediterranean. Occasionally naturalized in Britain[17].

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.