Growing lavender in your garden is a beautiful way to enjoy this flowering herb. Bringing pollinators and repelling pests, lavender is a great companion plant. Harvesting lavender gives you the option to use it in your home, for culinary purposes, beauty products and holistic uses.
How to Harvest and Dry Lavender
If you have ever considered planting your own lavender, also consider harvesting it. Something as simple as drying a small bunch and placing it in a vase in your bathroom can provide both beauty, the natural calming effect, and a beautiful aroma. Harvesting at the right time will give you the best option for using it.
Uses For Lavender:
There are many uses for lavender both in the garden and in the home. Below are just a few ways you can use lavender and why you should consider harvesting your own lavender bushes.
- Decorative – like a lavender wreath, dried lavender bunch or even a small lavender plant sitting in your window sill
- Soaps and Bath Products – Like shampoos, lotions, bath salts, etc.
- Food and teas – Like this delicious lavender lemon tea bread.
- Lavender Oil – relieves stress and anxiety.
- Aroma therapy– fresh lavender provides a beautiful scent.
When To Harvest Your Lavender
Do not begin harvesting lavender until 40-50% of your lavender bush is in bloom.
The first thing you want to do is decide what you want to use your lavender for, as there are different times to harvest depending on how it will be used. As each stage of the lavender flowering occurs, it gives off a slightly different aroma.
The softest aroma usually coming in the very beginning, as the flower begins to bloom, while the strongest aroma is in full bloom. Once the blooms begin to die off, the scent will dissipate. The best approach is to cut it in different stages and decide which aroma you prefer.
A full grown lavender bush can provide 7-8 bundles of dried lavender each season. It’s best to wait until lavender is mature before you start harvesting your lavender. However, small harvests on younger lavender plants can help the bush grow bigger and healthier.
Many times, when lavender is just blooming, or when the first corolla opens, the lavender is used for fresh display. It will bloom when you place it in water.
When the lavender is just blooming is also the time to harvest for soaps and bath products. Use dried lavender to make your own lavender sachets!
This will be the time to harvest for teas and culinary purposes as well.
Once the majority of the corollas are open, it is then the best time to harvest for drying displayed bunches or wreath making.
Best Time to Harvest
Harvest your lavender buds and blooms in the morning before it gets too hot. The lavender oil in the flower will be strongest and your flowers will me more aromatic.
Harvesting Your Lavender
Start by using sharp sheers or a scythe and gardening gloves. Lavender bunches are about 50 stems and can fit in your hand. The best cutting tool is a scythe and has a serrated edge, but garden sheers will also work.
Where to Cut
Begin by cutting the lavender stems about 2 inches from the woody part of the plant. This will allow your lavender to produce more blooms before the end of the season.
Tying Your Bundles
Cut about as much as can fit in your hand, then tie it off with some twine or a rubber band. The bunches can be as big or as little as you prefer. Get as much stem a you can with each flower bud so that hanging your lavender to dry is easier and you have more to work with.
Rinse the Lavender
Once you have harvested you lavender, rinse the flowers and stems in cold water to remove dirt and any bugs. Be gentle as the flowers can get damages easily.
Lavender can be used fresh. Once your flowers and stems have been rinsed and cleaned of bugs and debris, place it in a vase and enjoy the lavender flowers as they bloom. Fresh lavender can also be used for culinary purposes in the kitchen
Drying The Herb
Hang to dry in a cool, dry area that does not get sunshine. Sunshine will take away the fragrance of the lavender and lighten the color. It will need somewhere between 2-4 weeks of drying in order to make sure that all the stalks have dried all the way through. If you need more detail into drying herbs, check out this great tutorial.
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