Lavender flowers. Lavender sachets. Lavender oils. It’s just a matter of harvesting the lavender, so that it can be dried and used.
Harvesting lavender is a matter of cutting the stalks that carry the leaves and flowers. These are then tied into bundles, which are hung upside down in a dark place to dry. The seeds, leaves and flowers can be shaken off the dry lavender stalks.
Keep reading to discover all the ins and outs (plus some lesser-known tips and tricks) for how to harvest and dry lavender.
How to harvest lavender
To harvest lavender, the whole flower stalk is cut just below the highest leaves, using a sharp knife or pruning shears. The cut flowers should be tied into bundles and hung upside down to dry.
When you harvest lavender flowers, cut below the set of leaves below the flowers.
Use a sharp knife or pruning shears and make a clean cut.
Collect the stalks in bundles about as thick as your wrist.
Rinse the stalks to get rid of any dust and dirt.
Leave the plants to dry before hanging them upside down in a dark, cool place so that the flowers can dry out.
How to harvest lavender seeds
Lavender seeds are harvested from the pods that form where the flowers have died. When the seeds are dry, the plants can be shaken and the seeds will fall.
You can only harvest lavender seeds after the flowers have finished blooming.
The plants shouldn’t be dead-headed.
The seed pods will form where the flowers have died.
You should let these dry completely before harvesting the seeds by shaking them into a container.
You can also cut the stems off and shake the seeds into a paper bag.
How to harvest lavender flowers
Lavender flowers are harvested by cutting just under the highest set of leaves. The flowers should be kept in water until they are ready to be dried. When the lavender is dry, the bunches of flowers should be knocked against the edge of a container, so that the flowers will fall into the container.
To harvest the lavender flowers, make a clean cut just below the highest leaves.
The cut flowers must be put into water straight after harvesting.
When they are ready to be dried, put the bunches of lavender stems with flowers in a cool, well-ventilated, dark place.
When the stalks are dry, knock them against the edge of a container, so the flowers fall off.
How to harvest lavender leaves
Lavender leaves can be harvested by hand, or with pruning shears. Young leaves can be pinched off from the stems. The older leaves can be harvested by cutting off a whole stalk.
You can harvest lavender leaves by pinching off the sprigs you need.
Go for the new, soft growth, not the dry leaves.
You can also cut the whole stem and use the leaves and flowers separately,
How to harvest lavender for tea
Harvesting lavender for tea means cutting off the stalks with the leaves and flowers, just before the buds are due to open. The fresh flowers need to be pinched off by hand. The dried leaves and flowers can be rubbed off the stems when the lavender has been dried completely.
To harvest lavender for tea, cut the floral stems from the plants when the flower buds are just beginning to open.
If you want to use the fresh flowers, you’ll have to remove them from the stems individually.
If you want to use dry flowers and leaves, take the bunch of dried lavender and hit it gently against the edge of a bowl.
The dry flowers will fall off.
How to harvest lavender for cooking
To harvest lavender for cooking, the stalks must be cut with a sharp, clean knife or pruning shears. The flowers must be washed off, dried and rubbed off the stems.
Harvesting lavender for cooking means cutting the flowers when they are just beginning to open.
Rinse off each bunch to remove any dust and possible pests from the flowers.
Make sure you shake the stems gently under the water.
Dry the lavender out in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.
Take the dry lavender bunches one at a time and rub them between your hands over a container, so the flowers fall off.
How to harvest lavender for sachets
Lavender flowers must be harvested to be used in sachets before the buds open. Cut the stalks of buds, dry them and shake them off into a container.
For sachets, harvest the lavender before the buds open.
Cut the stems of buds just below the first leaves with a sharp knife or pruning shears.
Tie the lavender stems into bundles that are about as thick as your wrist.
Hang the bunches upside down in a dark, cool place with good circulation to dry.
When the lavender is dry, take the bunches and put them into a container, like a cloth bag.
Shake the bag so that the bundles inside move around against each other.
The dried buds will have been shaken off the stems and can be used for the sachets.
How to harvest lavender oil
Lavender must be harvested for its oils when nearly half the flowers have begun to die, during the cooler part of the day. The flowers are then dried, shaken off and put in oil, so that the essence can infuse into the oil.
The first step to harvesting lavender for oil is to cut the stems from the plants.
This should be done when nearly half of the flowers have died, because the oils are richest then.
Oil is extracted from the plants by distilling the stems, leaves and flowers.
The first step is to dry the lavender by hanging bunches upside down in a dark, well-ventilated place.
When the lavender is dry, shake off the flowers and take off the leaves.
Put these into a container with a base oil and leave for a while.
The essence of the lavender will infuse into the base oil.
When to harvest lavender
Lavender flowers can be harvested throughout summer. The best time to harvest is in the early morning or late afternoon, as long as the plants are dry. They should be harvested about half way through the growing season.
Lavender plants can be harvested throughout their growing season.
However, the most common time is about three months after planting.
This means late spring to early summer.
They can be harvested when the inner and outer petals are all open.
The best time to harvest is when the buds are just starting to open.
It you want to dry the lavender, you should harvest when only the outer, purple petals are open.
Make sure that this is around 25% of the flowers.
For essential oils, hold off harvest until the white, inner petals are also open.
For more details about how to use lavender, you can read all about How to grow lavender indoors.
Lavender flowers should be harvested when temperatures are cooler.
This usually means in the early morning or late afternoon, but you will need to make sure the flowers are dry.
If there is any dew still on the flowers, wait a while until it has evaporated before harvesting.
If that means it will be too warm, you can harvest slightly damp flowers, but the drying time will be increased.
Usually, before 10 am on a dry day is the best time to harvest.
What happens if you don’t harvest lavender?
If a lavender plant is not harvested, it will continue growing. The stalks will become very long, fall over and expose the woody part of the plant. This can cause damage to the plant.
If you don’t harvest lavender, the plant will only flower once.
The stems will continue growing and droop over.
When the growing stems fall over, the thicker woody bases of the stems will be exposed.
Little or no further growth will occur.
When the flowers on the stems die, the seed pods will develop in the place of each flower.
The seeds dry out and will be dispersed naturally.
If I harvest my lavender, will it grow back?
Lavender plants from which the flowers have been harvested will produce new growth. They may not grow back completely during one season, but new blooms will be produced.
When you cut the lavender stems to harvest the leaves or flowers, it stimulates some form of hormone that is necessary for growth.
The plants will grow more blooms over the next few weeks.
This means you can keep harvesting your lavender throughout the season.
You must avoid cutting the mature, woody stems, or the plant won’t grow back at all.
Harvesting lavender is a straightforward process. You need to cut the stalks with a sharp knife or pruning shears and then hang the lavender up to dry. The dry flowers can be shaken or rubbed off the stalks and used in a variety of ways.