A Complete Guide to Limonium Latifolium
Limonium latifolium is an herbaceous perennial also known as sea lavender. As its name indicates, sea lavender grows beside the sea, primarily on beaches. In some places in North America limonium latifolium grows wild. It is an excellent plant for locations where other plants do not do well, such as hot, sandy spots and where it so rocky that other flowers fail to grow and bloom. Animals will often feed upon wild sea lavender, and it is an excellent plant if you want to design a garden to feed animals. It is a big attractor of butterflies as well.
Sea lavender is successfully grown in USDA hardiness zones 3-9, meaning it can be planted in a wide range of temperatures, from the south to colder northern climates. The plant itself grows to be two to five feet high and approximately the same length across. It is propagated by seed, cuttings and division.
Limonium is in the plumbago or leadwort family and consists of over 120 species. Sea lavender is not related to other lavender plants. North America has only three species of limonium. Other locales where you can find limonium latifolium are Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa. The largest number of species are in the Mediterranean region, from the Canary Islands to central Asia.
Sea lavender leaves are around one foot long and grow in thick rosettes. Flowering stems have small brown bracts and flowers are produced along branches, or panticles. The flowers have five petals, and come in pink or purple. Sometimes the purple leans towards such bluish hues that the flowers look unmistakenly blue. In spite of their small size, the flowers are showy. There are a few varieties which can produce white or yellow flowers. Fruit capsules contain one seed apiece. These are often blown quite long distances by the ocean wind.
Because sea lavender is highly resistant to salt spray, it is often used to prevent beach erosion. It requires little to no maintenance at all. It should not be pruned as the branches may not grow back. The stems are self-supporting so the plant cannot grow much over five feet high. Sometimes as limonium latifolium spreads, there are patches which contain holes in the ground cover. When this happens you can replant where the ground is showing through.
The largest problem with sea lavender is root rot, especially if the plant is exposed to too much wetness. You should try to keep the plant as dry as possible. It can grow in quite a wide range of soils. In Florida, soil analysis showed that limonium latifolium can grow in soils very high in pH and low in phosphorus and potassium. It does well in all types of organic matter. If your garden soil is acidic, you should have no problems growing sea lavender.
Today you will not find sea lavender in great quantities along coastal regions. In fact, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has sea lavender on its Endangered Species list. Because limonium latifolium is such a nice looking plant, people should not have any qualms at all about growing it in their yards. Its resistance to salt is a definite plus, as is its easy care nature. Some people think the flowers look like baby’s breath.
Sometimes you can find sea lavender which has been planted in greenhouses and nurseries. You can bring it home to plant in the backyard as it makes a good border plant in warm, sandy locations. Some people grow sea lavender to sell as cut flowers, which is the biggest market for the plant. It usually blooms in July and August.