One of the most frequently asked questions we receive in the summertime is, 'Now that my lavender plants are in bloom, what can I do with it?' Since lavender is an herb that's been used by humans for thousands of years, the answer is, well, a lot! But we don't want you to feel overwhelmed, so let's start with the basics: making a lavender bouquet.
When's the best time to harvest? Usually when the lavender is in the late budding stage, when the colour and scent are strong, but less than 25% of the flowers have fully opened. The reason we think this is the best time is that the buds are packed with essential oil giving them their signature fragrance, and if you wish to dry your bouquet (which we recommend!), buds hold their colour and scent for longer than open flowers do. There are some times when you may prefer open flowers, such as for fresh bouquets (although lavender is a short-lasting cut flower) and for making flower water for your home and kitchen. But, in general, buds are best.
- a clean pair of scissors or sharp knife
- elastic band
- Identify the flower stalk and make sure that the lavender buds are at the right stage, looking plump and deep in colour.
- Cut the flower stalk below the first or second set of leaves at the base of the flower stalk. Don't cut into the wood of your lavender plant.
- Buds will often be at different stages on the same plant, so we recommend selectively harvesting the very best looking buds from each plant and saving the underripe buds for later on.
- If you wish to strip the leaves from the base of the flower stalks you may, and this can lead to a neater appearance of your bouquet, although it is not necessary for dried bouquets. Fresh flowers need to have the leaves stripped to avoid decay within the vase of water.
- Bundle your lavender bouquet with the tallest stalks in the middle or the back, and the shortest around the outside or at the front.
- It is better to dry several small bundles rather than one very large bundle. We recommend making bundles about 2-4 cm (1-1.5 in) in diameter.
- Secure your bouquet with an elastic band.
- Hang upside down to dry in a dry place out of direct sunlight for about a week.
- At this point, you can remove the elastic band and tip your flowers upright, as they will now hold the dried shape long-term. You can now use your dried lavender for home decor, or shake the buds off for use in your home cooking!
For more details about harvesting a lavender bouquet, check out our short video demonstration: