Lavender is a beautiful fragrant flowering plant that can be used in almost everything from aromatic products to desserts. Lavender is easy to grow and each plant yields an abundance of lovely scented flowers during its growing season. If you are growing lavender at home, you may be wondering how to harvest it properly to encourage further growth. Look no further!
This article will teach you everything you need to know about harvesting lavender correctly and pruning it to promote growth.
What You Will Need
Before you start cutting away at your plants, there’s a few tools you’ll need to harvest your lavender.
- Flower Basket
- Rubber band (optional)
- String (optional)
- Wall hook (optional)
- Food Dehydrator or Oven (optional)
Step 1: When to Harvest Your Lavender
Growing lavender is fulfilling for gardeners who love its taste and smell. Lavender should be harvested early in the season to preserve flavor and aroma. The plant can bloom twice per season, so if you harvest and prune carefully in early spring, you can encourage a bountiful late summer bloom.
Lavender should be harvested in the early morning to preserve the quality of its fragrant oil, which can be diminished by the sun’s heat. Cut your lavender before the day’s peak hot hours, but after the morning dew has dried. Remember to always harvest your lavender early in its bloom, when about ⅔ of its flowers have fully opened — this is when the flowers’ oil content is at its highest.
Besides, if you harvest after all flowers have fully opened, some of the flowers may fall off during harvesting and dry out due to their delicate nature.
Step 2: How to Cut Lavender
Cutting lavender is fairly straightforward, but there are several things you can keep in mind to encourage new growth. When you inspect your lavender stems and find one that is ready to harvest, make sure to only cut a stem that is above a junction.
A junction is where the bottom stem may break off into several directions (including the stem you wish to harvest). If you cut below the junction, the other stems connected to it won’t be able to grow. Pinching during the first bloom is another way to keep your lavender and stimulate growth, while keeping it in check. This means pinching off the new growth towards the end of the stem.
During the second bloom of the season, you can harvest and prune your lavender plants more thoroughly to prepare for winter. Pruning lavender after the late-summer bloom is essential to keeping the plant a manageable size. Pruning 1 inch from each stem will help the plant from becoming out of control and woody.
If the stems of lavender grow too long they may fall over easily when they bloom and not grow as effectively. Pruning after the last harvest will allow the plant to heal properly before autumn’s first frost. Make sure not to prune your plant in autumn to reduce damage to your plant.
Step 3: How to Preserve Lavender
To preserve fresh lavender you can hang your stems to dry in a bushel, dry in a dehydrator or use an oven at low temperature. Dried lavender can be kept in a container, bushel, or turned into essential oil.
To dry your stems in a bushel, you will want to first gather all of your lavender and place a rubber band or string around the stem portion. (If you place it on the flowers, they will break off as they dry.) Next, tie a long string around the rubber band or short string. With the flowers facing downwards, tie the string to a wall hook. Drying the flowers upside down will help to keep the stems straight and sturdy.
If you wish to dry your lavender in a dehydrator or oven, the process is equally simple. Drying lavender and herbs in a dehydrator or oven can reduce the chances of moisture that may lead to mold. First, you will want to trim the stems close to the flowers to keep things neat and not too overcrowded. Next, place your lavender flowers neatly on the dehydrator rack close together, but not overlapping. (You may line your trays so no flowers fall during drying.)
When drying lavender in a dehydrator or oven, make sure to use a low temperature and check on it periodically. You can use a low setting of 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and check your flowers every 10 to 15 minutes.
To test if your lavender is dry, take a bud between your fingers and gently rub them together. The buds should be dry, but not disintegrate.
Now, Put It To Good Use!
Lavender is an excellent plant to grow in your garden to create a relaxing and colorful atmosphere. You can add lavender to brownies, homemade ice cream, or even add to a sachet to keep under your pillow for relaxation. The options are limitless and the practice of harvesting lavender is rewarding and calming.
If you enjoyed this article, make sure to share it with your friends and comment below to share how you use your lavender.