Lavender is a fragrant herb often used in cooking, perfumes, and sachets. It is also popular to grow in gardens because of its beautiful flowers and aroma. The flowers of the lavender plant can be harvested for use in various applications, but it is important to harvest them at the right time and in the correct way to ensure the best quality.
How Can You Use Lavender?
Lavender can be used in many ways because of its dynamic properties. One of the main reasons lavender is harvested is to use the flowers for their fragrant and flavorful qualities. The flowers are often used in cooking and baking as a herb, adding a delicate and aromatic flavor to desserts, marinades, and teas. Many find their natural scent pleasant, so dried lavender flowers are often used in potpourri and sachets, to freshen linens and wardrobes.
Another common use of lavender is in the production of essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated and potent compounds extracted from plants and used for various purposes. Lavender essential oil is particularly popular in perfumes, aromatherapy, and other fragrant products. Its oil is known for its calming and relaxing properties and is often used to create a relaxing ambiance in spas, hotels, and homes.
The petals of the lavender flower can be used for ornamental purposes, as it is a popular accessory because of its beautiful flowers and attractive purple color. The petals are often used in flower arrangements and can even be dried to create long-lasting arrangements. The dried flowers can be used in wreaths, garlands, and other decorative crafts.
Step-by-Step Guide of How to Harvest Lavender
Here is the guide on how to harvest lavender flowers.
1. Select the Right Type of Lavender
First, choosing the right variety of lavender for your purposes is important. There are many different types of lavender, each with unique properties and uses. Some varieties, such as English lavender, have a higher oil content and are better for perfumes and aromatherapy. In contrast, others, like lavender, have a more robust aroma and are often used in cooking and sachets. Choosing a variety that is well-suited to your intended use is important.
2. Consider the Time of Your Harvest
The timing of the harvest is also critical. The flowers should be harvested when fully open and at the peak of their fragrance. For English lavender, this typically occurs in late June to early July, while for French and Spanish lavender, it happens in July and August. It’s important to wait until the flowers are fully open to ensure they have the highest oil content and the most intense aroma.
3. Use the Right Tools and Techniques to Harvest Your Lavender
To harvest the flowers, you will need a pair of scissors or clippers. It is best to cut the stems early in the morning when the dew has dried, but before the day’s heat causes the oils to evaporate. Start by cutting the longest stems first, leaving about 4 to 6 inches of stem below the flowers. This will help ensure that the plant will continue to produce new flowers throughout the season. Be sure to cut the stems at an angle, just above a leaf node, as this will encourage the plant to branch and produce more flowers.
Using a cloth bag to catch the flowers as you cut is recommended to make it easier to collect the cuttings without damaging the flowers. It is also good to collect the flowers after a dry day. Alternatively, once you have harvested the flowers, it is best to dry them as soon as possible. The easiest way is to tie the stems in small bunches. Hang them upside down in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated place, out of direct sunlight. Leave the flowers to dry for 1-2 weeks until the stems are dry and brittle.
After the flowers have dried, you can strip the petals from the stems. Store them in an airtight container or jar. Dried lavender flowers can be used to make sachets and potpourri or added to bath salts and other homemade beauty products. They can also be used in cooking, adding to desserts, tea, and other recipes.
4. Consider Extracting the Essential Oils
Another option is to extract the essential oils from the lavender flowers. Steam distillation is a common method used to extract essential oils from plants. A steam distillation unit can be purchased or rented at home, or you may find commercial distillers to process your lavender. The resulting essential oil can be used in perfumes, aromatherapy products, and other applications where a concentrated fragrance is desired.
Take Care of Your Lavender Plant
It’s important to remember the care and maintenance of the lavender plant itself. Regular watering, fertilizing, and pruning will help keep the plant healthy and promote continuous growth and blooming. Avoid over-watering and let the soil dry slightly between waterings, and prune the plant after blooming to encourage bushier growth.
Also, consider the climate conditions of the area where you are harvesting the lavender. Consider if the area receives enough sun and has well-draining soil. This will give you an idea of which varieties will do well in your area. This will help you to know the best timing of the harvest.
Don’t Be Afraid to Harvest Your Lavender Flowers
Harvesting lavender flowers are simple, but choosing the right variety, harvesting at the right time, and drying the flowers properly to ensure the best quality is important. When harvesting, cut the stems at an angle, just above a leaf node, to encourage the plant to produce more flowers. Dry the flowers as soon as possible.
Use them in various ways, from sachets and potpourri to cooking and homemade beauty products. Or use them to extract essential oil through steam distillation for fragrance or aromatherapy. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your lavender harvest is of the highest quality. So, you will be able to enjoy the many benefits of this versatile and fragrant herb for years to come.