Lavenders with their soft purple flowers are one of the most beautiful plants you could add to your garden. However, there is more to this plant, with their luxurious, elegant appearance, and sweet-smelling scent, lavenders are often associated with having a soothing and therapeutic effect. For this reason, it is used as an essential oil for aromatherapy or as a mood-lifting fragrance. This pretty plant even has culinary uses and can be incorporated in foods as a herb or as a sweet essence in desserts. Apart from being an aromatic plant, lavender has a range of health benefits. It is known to relieve chronic pain, stress, asthma, and high blood pressure. It also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ever since antiquity, this plant has been used as herbal medicine and bath additive in places like Rome, Greece, and Persia. These ancient cultures believed that using lavender helps purify both body and soul. Knowing the wonderful aroma of the lavender, I can relate to where they are coming from with that idea.
There’s so much you could do with this pretty flower plant growing in your garden. Depending on how you want to use your home-grown lavender, the timings for when to harvest lavender will also vary.
If done in the right way, your lavender plant will even benefit from harvesting it! It can improve your lavender’s longevity, as it removes old growth and makes way for new shoots to sprout. What are you waiting for! Go get your gloves and sharpen those shears and follow our guide on how and when to harvest your lavender,
How & When to Harvest Lavender
Lavender is usually harvested in May, June, and July. After planting, they can take three to four years to mature and bloom into hundreds. But you can simply grow your lavender plant from cuttings in order to shorten the process. In this way, you can harvest in several months, depending on the variety.
The right time to harvest is also immensely important. In the spring, when the weather warms up, the lavender plant starts showing tightly closed spikes. Then buds start to emerge from these spikes and these buds start showing a greenish lavender hue. Finally, flowers will bloom from the buds.
If the buds are still quite green and are completely closed, it is still too early to harvest. When half of the blue-violet hued buds are in bloom, and the others are fully bloomed- you can now harvest! You should always harvest each stem in order of blooming. Simply put, harvest your lavender plant in sections, first taking off only the parts that are in peak bloom.
There are also other signs that signal if your lavender is prime for harvest or not. One of these signs is when 40% to 50% of the plant has flower buds, however, this part mainly concerns what use you have for it. Another unusual sign is when there are bees flying around and busy pollinating your lavender. If you harvest the lavender during the spring season, the lavender will have time to recover and be ready for the next spring season harvest.
Like any harvest, you will want to pick the best out of the crop and this same logic applies to your lavender. You will want to pick the best looking lavender flower out of the bunch. Try looking for the lavender that has the healthiest looks and the most vibrant of colors and just simply bypass on pale looking ones, as they won’t smell or taste as good.
Next, grab a pair of scissors. Cut low, so you can get the long stems. But avoid cutting into the woody base of the plant. Cutting this can stunt next year’s growth. Try to make clean cuts without ripping the stalks. Make sure that the tool you are using is clean to avoid spreading some diseases to the plant. Use some alcohol or bleach to clean your tool.
After harvesting your lavender, rinse them in water to remove some pests. If you don’t plan to use your lavender immediately, you may store them for several days. To keep your lavenders fresh, fill a vase with water and put your lavender in it. This method is only good for several days, but it can keep the flower fresh until you have plans to use it.
When to Harvest Lavender for Essential Oil
One of the most popular uses of lavender is as an essential oil, because of its multiple benefits in health and beauty. Such a calming oil is used in aromatherapy for its ability to alleviate the negative effects of anxiety or depression. Furthermore, it is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory so it can help relax bruises or small wounds.
You must know when to harvest lavender for essential oil if you want the richest, velvety, and intense fragrance. The right time for harvest is when 50% to 100% of the buds are blooming. You should harvest your lavender in the morning, but not too early in the morning since the dew is still there. Wait until the morning dew has evaporated then you may harvest your lavender then. Harvesting the lavender in the morning will provide you the highest amount of oil within the lavender so your lavender smells and tastes the best in this period.
If you harvest too early, the plant won’t be mature and won’t be producing the highest quality of the oil. But if you’re too late, it will start to wither and lose the molecules that help produce the best lavender essential oil. Delaying the harvest to late hours will cause the oils to evaporate instead, they still will smell good but not as potent compared to the morning hours.
You can combine your lavender oil with peppermint and lemon to ward off allergies. Many use diluted lavender oil to promote hair growth, especially when combined with cedarwood, rosemary, and thyme.
Lavender water is another great way to use your essential oil. Just mix the oil (about 5 drops) with distilled water. You can then spritz it on your face and body as a nice scented refreshing mist or as an air-freshener.
When to Harvest Lavender for Culinary Use & How To Use It
Lavender is a truly versatile plant. It is even used in culinary and often add in sweet and savory dishes. As a herb, it can enhance the flavor of the food and also serves as a decoration or garnishing. It often complements other aromatic herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage. You can use most of the lavender varieties for culinary use but the more popular one for cooking is Lavandula angustifolia or ‘Munstead’.
If you want your lavender for the kitchen, you must know when to harvest lavender for culinary use. The optimal time would be when 25% to 50% of the buds are blooming.
One common way to use culinary lavender is after drying it. Dried lavender is incorporated in several recipes- herbal teas, lemonades, syrups, cakes, and as herbs in main dishes. You can dry your harvested lavender by snipping the stems off the plant. Then make a bundle of the stems and hang them upside down in a dark, well-ventilated room. When you try breaking the stems, they should snap off easily indicating that the process is done. Then you may crush them, roast them, or grind them to improve the texture and flavor.
What to do with Harvested Lavender
There is so much you can do with harvested lavender. Bath salts for one, are a wonderful treat when you infuse lavender into them. Combine it with Epsom salts to relieve muscle pain and stress.
For a wonderful scent around the house, you can turn your harvested lavender into potpourri. The purple flowers are visually appealing and also add a pleasant aroma to the surroundings.
Lavender can even be used in skincare. You can use your lavender essential oil as a moisturizer, toner, and even for relieving sunburn. Or you can use lavender as a natural remedy for ear infections.
In fact, lavender can even do the job of a moth repellant. While it won’t kill moths, it certainly wards them away. It is often encouraged by many countries to use lavender as a natural alternative rather than mothballs that have toxic fumes in them.
With a multitude of uses, unique fragrance, medicinal properties, and all its’ special characteristics- lavender is one of the best plants to have in your garden. In fact, all the uses of lavender can be turned into fun activities that kids would enjoy.
Lavender is easy to grow and thrive in most soil types- even poor to moderately fertile. They are also low-maintenance plants so you can easily care for them.
Grow these purple beauties and make the most of all the wonderful benefits and uses. For best quality, just remember when to harvest lavender depending on your preferred use.