6 ideas for using your lavender harvest
If you’ve been following us this gardening season, you know I’m not very happy with my yard. Hillside gardening leaves a lot to be desired! Since I’ve promised not to whine, but make the best of it, I found a reason today to look on the bright side of things. Lavender! Today, we are going to go over everything you need to know about this beautiful and refreshingly sweet plant. Not only are we going to go over how to harvest lavender, but we will go over some great ways to use lavender plants too.
Thank you, Lorraine – for planting the lovely lavender Plants
Before we dive any deeper, I have to give a special shoutout to Lorraine. Thank you, Lorraine, for putting those beautiful lavender plants at the end of the garden area. They have brightened up the area with their beautiful hues. I must admit, however, that I did a pretty dismal job last year of harvesting them. It’s a big shame really. Harvesting lavender is really one of the easiest plants to collect after a growing season. Along with that, you can get such a reward from growing something that you don’t have to fuss over.
What Is Lavender and Is There Only One Kind?
Lavender is a popular herb that is very easy to identify. You can easily pick it out of a lineup by its prominent purple flowered tips. If you pick at it and sniff it, you will get a whiff of its iconic calming aroma. In fact, its distinct fragrance is why it is so commonly used as a medicinal herb. (We will go over that shortly).
There are many types of lavender plants. Some lavender plants get long stalks. Some get really big flower heads. And some are just naturally taller than others. All lavender plants are fragrant. In fact, lavender is known medicinally to soothe and calm down your nerves. It is also antiseptic and makes a good addition to your herbal first aid kit.
When to Harvest Lavender
When you are figuring out how to harvest lavender, you want to make sure you do so at the right time. If you are in the Pacific Northwest, then May, June, and July are the months you will want to focus on. Harvesting during these months will encourage growth for next year. Once you figure out how to harvest lavender, you will notice that by the third and fourth year, your lavender plant will fully mature. This maturation will bring with it the potential of hundreds of blooms. When you properly care for a lavender plant, you can successfully get it to live up to about 10 years.
Not only will you want to harvest during the right month, but you want to go out and collect during the right time of the day too. The best time to harvest lavender is in the morning. This is when the plant is dry and the sun is less intense. This preserves more of the essential oil in the blossoms.
How to Harvest Lavender
Once your blooms are ready to be harvested, you will want to gather your tools first. This will make your collection a whole lot easier. You will want to start by collecting the following:
A large flat sheet
It should be noted that when people start learning how to harvest lavender, they often do it incorrectly. The proper way to harvest this herb is by collecting it in bushels. Be sure not to overcrowd a bushel as you collect. Typically a handful is what you want to aim for.
- You will want to start by cutting a bundle of lavender from your plant. As you cut, you may be tempted to be gentle with it, but you don’t have to be. The plant is pretty durable and can withstand tugs and pulls. Grab a bit of the plant and cut with a sharp pair of gardening shears. As you move along the plant be sure to leave a few inches of green growth on the plant base. Going down to the woody portion of the stem can damage the future growth of the plant.
- When you have enough blossoms to comfortably fill your hand, wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bundle. Once collected, some people cut the bottom off so that it appears nice and manicured. You do not have to do this. It is simply a matter of aesthetics. If you plan on displaying your lavender, then it might be a good idea to prep it like that.
- Open a small paper clip and use it as a hook to hang the lavender bundle. You will want to hang the lavender bundle upside down using a hanger. Then, store your hung lavender in a dark, dry place. The darkness will help the lavender retain its color. Also, drying it upside down helps the lavender retain its blossom shape too.
- Let the lavender dry for about a week until there is no moisture remaining on the stems in the center of the bundle.
- As your lavender dries, you get to start the fun part of this process; deciding what to do with your beautiful bounty. Check out our list below of all the neat things you do with your lavender harvest.
How to Use Lavender
Now the fun part. Check out these great ways to use your lavender harvest.
- Leave your lavender on the stems and used it dried for bouquets. You can place bouquets in bathrooms, bedrooms, and anywhere else in your home.
- You can make handy lavender wands. Dried lavender beads and buds that are wrapped in a satin ribbon or other material can be super nifty. A lavender wand can be placed in a closet to ward off moths. It can also be displayed in potpourri baskets to let out its charming fragrance. These sell for big bucks in specialty stores, so you can save a bunch by making them all on your own.
- Take the buds off the stems and make sachets. Once they are dried, running your hand down the stalk will take the flowers right off. Keep the dried stalks to burn for incense.
- Use lavender in a soothing, calming bath to relieve tension, stress, and insomnia. Just place a handful in a muslin bag and add it to the water. This method works best when used with warm or hot water. This heat will encourage the fragrance to excrete. For an added dose or relaxation, you can even add a couple of droplets of lavender oil.
- Store the blossoms in a mason jar and use for future culinary delights. Toni’s to-die-for lavender shortcake cookie recipe is below.
- Make an antiseptic spritzer. To make this refreshing spritzer, you will need to mix the following in a 4 oz spray bottle. 7 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon lavender infused witch hazel, and 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil
- Dried lavender will keep its scent for at least a year. I have some in a sachet that is at least 5 years old and still going strong! The durability dried lavender provides is great if you are looking to refresh a small area such as a bathroom or closet.
Final Thoughts on How to Harvest Lavender
Nervousness and intimidation are what usually come to mind when people start thinking about how to harvest lavender. Once you learn how to harvest lavender, you will find that the opposite is quite true. Lavender is such a durable and easy plant to harvest. Once you figure out how to harvest lavender, you will wonder why you didn’t start sooner!