When to Harvest Lavender and How to Prune and Dry It

fresh lavender on table next to bowl of dried lavender leaves
Harvest lavender early in the bloom, when the first flower buds are starting to open. Hang your lavender upside down in small bunches, tied together with rubber bands or twine to dry it. Leave the lavender until fully brittle (this can take up to a month), and then store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Lavender is a beautiful flower with an incredible scent! There are several types of lavender though French Lavender, English Lavender, and Spanish Lavender are the types of lavender that are most commonly used.

Dried lavender can be used to make beautiful smelling potpourri, can be used in cooking or baking, or used to make lavender spray or salve. This guide will teach you to harvest, preserve, and store your lavender.

How Do You Know When Lavender is Ready to Harvest?

It’s important that you harvest lavender flowers early in their bloom. You’ll know they are ready because most of the lavender buds on a flowering stem will be tight and closed, with only a couple of the flower buds starting fully opened.

first bloom lavender
Early lavender blooms

Where Do You Cut Lavender when Harvesting?

Follow these simple steps to discover the best place to cut lavender:

  1. First, scour your lavender farm or garden for a lavender bush just starting to bloom.
  2. Next, look for the specific bloom you want to harvest – remember, this one should have flower buds just beginning to open.
  3. Once you’ve found the desired bloom, trace down the lavender stem until you reach a junction. This will be where a number of side leaves (which will become new bunches) have begun to form.
  4. Take some small pruners, pruning snips, or shears, and cut the lavender just above the junction. This will give you a beautiful bunch of lavender, while allowing the plant to direct its energy into growing lavender on the side leaves.
  5. If you want long stems on your bunches, you can follow the same steps except choose a junction deeper into the plant rather than the first one you come across.

When is the Best Time to Harvest Lavender?

You should begin your lavender harvest in early spring. This is because it will give the lavender flowers time for a new growth by the late summer or start of fall, giving you the opportunity for two lavender blooms and harvests in one growing season. If you wait until early summer, you won’t be able to get your next harvest until next year!

It’s also a good idea to harvest your fresh lavender in the early morning. Give time for the dew to dry, but don’t wait too long – in the heat of the summer sun, some of the essential oils will start to evaporate, giving less of that gorgeous lavender scent.

Can You Harvest Lavender After it has Bloomed?

It is possible to harvest lavender after it has bloomed.

I advise harvesting young plants instead of those later in their bloom cycle. This is because older blooms naturally have less lavender oil and aroma. Equally, they become dryer and can crumble at the touch, making it hard to dry them or turn them into bunches.

However, it is good for the plant if you prune lavender blooms that are spent. Therefore it is still worth it to harvest older lavender blooms – you help your plant remain healthy, and also might get a few nice blooms out of the process!

How to Dry Lavender

The best way to dry lavender is to hang it. Follow these steps for an easy guide to drying lavender.

  1. First, gather a few bouquets. Tie the stems together – this can be done with rubber bands or twine. Don’t tie the lavender too tightly or hang too many bouquets together at once; small, loosely tied bunches are best.
  2. Pick a good location for your lavender drying. You want a dark place that is warm and dry, but also has a good airflow. The shadowy part of a room with an open window works well, though if your drying room has no window a fan can also work.
  3. Hang your lavender upside down and leave it to dry. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.
  4. Test your lavender to see if it is fully dry. To do this, attempt to snap one of the stems. If it snaps cleanly without bending, the lavender is ready!

This method is the easiest and requires little to no equipment. However, it takes a long time and can be impractical in parts of the world with wetter or cooler weather.

It is also possible to use a food dehydrator to dry your lavender, as outlined below:

  1. Lay out your lavender on a dehydrator tray. Ensure they are evenly spread and in a single layer.
  2. Using a low heat (95-105°F) dry your lavender for 24-48 hours, checking regularly.
  3. Using the same method as above, check your lavender is dry before storing.
dried lavender 1
Dried lavender

How to Store Dry Lavender

Store your lavender in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. If you store your lavender correctly, it can have a shelf life and retain its color and scent for up to ten years!

Jack Fairey

Jack is a writer and keen foodie based in London, England. When he's not writing, he can be found in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes for him and his partner to enjoy!

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