I got a late start on harvesting my 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 an effective 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.
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 own 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.
First, you want to harvest your lavender when it just begins blooming (unless you’re leaving it to feed pollinators as we did). This means that your crop will have the freshest blooms 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.
- 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.
- 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, you can really 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.
- Store in a cool dry dark area.