Harvesting Lavender

I got a late start on harvesting lavender this summer. I did that on purpose: I wanted to leave the flowers as long as possible for the bees. If last year was a useful indicator, we should have another harvest in the fall, and I’ll make sure that I harvest these on time. Harvesting lavender on time means starting when the flowers just begin to bloom, but leaving food for the bees was more important during the summer season.

Lavender buds

We have hundreds and hundreds of lavender plants at the farm. Lavender provides a source of nectar for pollinators, along with being a featured ingredient in our Peace of Mind collection. In your garden, you may only have a few bushes, but processing the blooms will be the same! Here are our most helpful tips for harvesting lavender.

new row of grosso X featuring yellow butterfly

When to harvest Lavender

First, you want to harvest your lavender when it just begins blooming (unless you’re leaving it to feed pollinators as we did). At bloom, your crop will have the freshest buds and be the most full of essential oils. If you would like, you can harvest only a section of your plants to leave flowers for the bees.

cutting lavender
Cutting Lavender Spikes

Harvesting Tips

  • Harvest before sunrise, during the season you expect new growth if you don’t cut the spikes too close to the plant. For the final harvest of the year,  cut spikes close to the plant shaping plants in mounds to get ready for the winter. 
  • Cut in bunches, to make it easier for tying and drying.
  • Tie your bunches as soon as you cut them, to keep everything tidy.
banding
Wrap bunches that you plan on drying as soon as you harvest them
  • Wrap in bunches using a thick rubber band. Thin rubber bands break.
  • Create a “drying rack” by installing hooks in the ceiling of a cool, dark and dry room. Attach a single row of chain link from the ceiling hooks to create the drying rack.
chainlinkfromceiling
  • Insert a paper clip under the rubber band to use as a hook for hanging your lavender.
clip
  • Hang lavender upside down in a cool, dry, dark place and let dry for 2-3 weeks.
drying

Drying and Processing Lavender

Once the waiting period is over, you may begin processing your lavender. To do this, lay down a clean sheet, tarp, or paper to catch the lavender buds as you roll the bundles between your hands. You may find that crunching or shaking the bundles helps to remove the most buds.

Sift through the lavender buds and pick out any sections of stems, leaves, and large particulates that you may find. You may find small bits and pieces of other plant material as well, so pick that out when you see it.

  • Remove flowers by rubbing lavender bunches as if you are trying to start a fire with them.
  • Collect flowers and store in an airtight container.
  • We store our dried lavender buds in the freezer for future use.
  • Store in a cool dry dark area.

How To Harvest Lavender

  • Decide what you are doing with the lavender flowers to determine the best time to harvest
  • Cut in bunches, to make it easier for tying and drying
  • Tie bunches as soon as you cut them, to keep everything tidy.
  • Wrap in bunches using a thick rubber band. (Thin rubber bands break.)
  • Create a “drying rack” by installing hooks in the ceiling of a cool, dry, and dark room. Attach a single row of chain link from the ceiling hooks to create the drying rack.
  • Insert a paper clip under the rubber band to use as a hook for hanging your lavender.
  • Hang lavender upside down in a cool, dry, dark place and let dry for 2-3 weeks
  • Once the waiting period is over, begin processing your lavender on a clean sheet or tarp to catch the lavender buds as you roll the bundles between your hands
  • Sift through the lavender buds and pick any stems, leaves, and large particulates 
  • Remove flowers by rubbing lavender bunches as if you are trying to start a fire with them
  • Collect flowers and store in an airtight container
  • Store in a cool dry dark area
  • You may freeze the buds for later use

When is it Best to Harvest Lavender?

It depends on how you are planning on using lavender flowers. If you are distilling lavender for hydrosols it’s best to leave the flowers on the plant for as long as possible. This provides the bees and butterflies with the most food for the season, and the longer the flowers stay on the plant, the more the oils build. If you would like, you may harvest only a section of your plants— just as the flowers bloom for ideal drying lavender, and leave balance flowers for the bees and butterflies, and distilling for a later date.

What is the Best Time of Day to Harvest Lavender?

Harvest as the sun rises, after the due has dried but before it’s so hot that the plant will burn in the heat of the sun, If it is particularly hot, as it is most of the time here in the south, we plan our harvest before the sun rises. If you prune properly, cutting spikes two inches above the bark, you will see regrowth before fall. At the final harvest of the year, cut spikes close to the plant shaping plants in mounds to prepare plants for the winter.

How Do You Dry Lavender?

• Cut in bunches, to make it easier for tying and drying
• Tie bunches as soon as you cut them, to keep everything tidy.
• Wrap in bunches using a thick rubber band. (Thin rubber bands break.)
• Create a “drying rack” by installing hooks in the ceiling of a cool, dry, and dark room. Attach a single row of chain link from the ceiling hooks to create the drying rack.
• Insert a paper clip under the rubber band to use as a hook for hanging your lavender.
• Hang lavender upside down in a cool, dry, dark place and let dry for 2-3 weeks
• Once the waiting period is over, begin processing your lavender on a clean sheet or tarp to catch the lavender buds as you roll the bundles between your hands
• Sift through the lavender buds and pick any stems, leaves, and large particulates 
• Remove flowers by rubbing lavender bunches as if you are trying to start a fire with them
• Collect flowers and store in an airtight container
• Store in a cool dry dark area
• You may freeze the buds for later use

About the Author

kara

Kara waxes about the bees, creates and tests recipes with her friend Joyce, and does her best to share what she’s learned and continues to learn about the bees, honey, ingredients we use and more.

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7 thoughts on “Harvesting Lavender

  1. oh so French , how great to have this here locally,would love to be involved sometime soon!

  2. Very informative , never knew how it was done just remember seeing fields of lavender in Southern France.

    1. So far this is how I do it. It’s lovely but very labor intense. Perhaps one day some equipment and some more hands will help move it along a little better! Thanks for the comments!

  3. You forgot to share the chainsaw tip of your best friend. LOL

    1. You are right! My best friend is gifted in creative problem solving. It may not always be the best solution but it may be the fastest! ;0)

  4. I’d like to know where you purchased the plants of lavender. I cannot find it locally nor does it grow well when I do….how do you do it????

    1. Hi Sharlene, Thanks for writing! Whenever I’ve tried to grow them from seed it’s been a real disaster. When I did a small patch of lavender I bought my plants from a grower out of Davidsonville, Homestead Gardens. They have beautiful plant material. We plant thousands of plants so we buy from a grower that grows them specifically for us. I hope this helps.

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