Cotton Lavender

Cotton Lavender
Santolina chamaecyparissus
Sometimes known as Grey Lavender, Lavender Cotton or Grey Santolina.

This aromatic plant has been grown in English Gardens since the Sixteenth century, where it was often used as a space filler in knot gardens or to edge paths and walks.

Nicholas Culpepper writing in 1649 assures us that it could be used as an antidote for all sorts of poisonous bites.
However its main use was to deter moths from munching their way through clothing - especially woollen clothing. It was mixed with English Lavender or Rosemary and put into muslin bags and hung amongst clothes – and is still used for this purpose today.

Despite its name it is not related at all to English Lavender and is a member of the daisy family.

It is a hardy perennial shrub (to zone 7) growing to 32 inches or 80 cm and has lovely silvery grey green aromatic leaves.
In July and August it has small button-like flowers that unlike the leaves have a rather unpleasant smell.


It prefers a light well drained soil in a sunny position and is very good at tolerating drought.
It can be clipped in late spring or early summer but never in autumn and propagated from cutting in late July.


Cotton Lavender is a good companion plants for roses and can be used as ground cover if spaced 24 inches or 60 cm apart.
It looks good as edging to paths and borders and will keep its leaves in all but the hardest winters.

  • Lemon Queen – This has cream flowers and greener foliage.
  • Nana – a more compact variety which is very wind tolerant.
  • Weston – grows to 25cm or 10 inches and has very heavily silvered leaves.

  • Neapolitana – this grows to 3 feet or 1 m and has lime green flowers with very feathery foliage.

  • Virens –has less aromatic leaves growing to 24 inches or 60 cm and the flowers are very bright yellow.

    Please take note that touching bruised leaves of Cotton lavender can cause a rash on people with sensitive skins, so always wear gloves when handling this plant - just in case.

    Enjoy your garden !

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