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When To Harvest Lavender (+ Tips on Storing, Drying & Using)

When To Harvest Lavender (+ Tips on Storing, Drying & Using)

Lavender is a fragrant and versatile herb that makes a great addition to any garden or flower bed.

It’s also one of the plants you can harvest multiple times each year if you really want to, but knowing when to do so makes all the difference!

When do you harvest lavender? The best time to harvest lavender for most purposes is early spring, and the best time of day to harvest lavender is early in the day. Additionally, the best time to harvest lavender is during the early bloom period; that way it blooms again before the end of summer. 

Read on below and learn everything you need to know about when to harvest lavender, including tips on storing, drying, and using it as well!

When To Harvest Lavender

The best time of the year to harvest lavender varies depending on your purposes for the harvested lavender.

For example, the best time for harvesting the herb for essential oil isn’t the ideal time to harvest it for tea or decorations.

In the following sections, we lay out the best times to harvest lavender, according to the most common post-harvest purposes for this popular aromatic herb.

But first, let’s have a look at the general guidelines for when to harvest lavender in general.

General Guidelines for When To Harvest Lavender

There are a few general guidelines to follow for when to harvest lavender:

  1. Wait until 25 to 50% of the buds are blooming.
  2. Always use sharp instruments for cutting; never damage the stems.
  3. Cut low but never below the bottom sets of leaves near the base.
  4. Bundle the lavender stems and leaves with rubber bands as you go.
  5. Hang the bundles somewhere dark and dry, or use drying racks/screens.

The above guidelines help no matter what time of the year you harvest your herbs, but determining the best time of the year to harvest your lavender depends on what you plan to use it for.

Best Time of Day To Harvest Lavender

The early morning is always the best time of the day to harvest fresh lavender.

Wait until the dew dries up, but harvest before the sunlight begins heating them and releasing their essence. 

When To Harvest Lavender for Essential Oil

If it’s an essential oil that you’re after, the best time of the year to harvest your lavender is during the late spring or early summer. 

This gives the herb plenty of time to become revitalized in the early spring and begin producing plenty of fresh goodness. 

Waiting until the latest part of the spring or the early days or summer yields plenty of material for oil and still leaves enough of the plant alive and producing so that it may bloom and be harvested again.

When To Harvest Lavender for Tea

When harvesting lavender for tea, target groupings of long stems/flowers, and cut them into neat bundles with sharp scissors or pruners. 

Whatever you do, avoid cutting them down to the last leaves or woody part of the stem, or they might not grow back.

Once you’ve collected as much lavender as your after, simply hang them to dry or set them on drying racks or screens, like this collapsible unit with multiple shelves.

When To Harvest Lavender for Sachets & Decorations

Like much of lavender harvesting, the best time to harvest lavender specifically for sachets and decorations is when they are at their prettiest and sweetest smelling. 

That means early spring is your best bet for making great lavender decorations or aromatic sachets. 

Late summer and fall are also great times to gather and harvest lavender for decorations and sachets if you missed out in the spring.

No matter when you harvest, make sure to leave at least two full sets of leaves on the stems you harvest. Otherwise, the stems may not grow back.

How Many Times Can You Harvest Lavender?

Lavender may be harvested several times per year, depending on its growing conditions. A mature lavender bush in optimal condition produces eight or more bundles of herbs each season. 

These bushes may be harvested as much as every 90 days or do, during the warmest times of the year. Each passing year should bring you a larger and fuller lavender bush that yields more and more.

How To Store Fresh Lavender

Multiple stalks of dried lavender with lavender buds in a bowl showing in the background.

Storing fresh lavender is quite simple; all you need to do is hang it upside down somewhere it has room to breathe. 

After a few days, it’ll be dry enough to process further, or in a week or so it will dry out completely. 

If you wish to preserve the color of the lavender in addition to the spicy-sweet scent, make sure to store your fresh lavender somewhere out of the direct light but somewhere with plenty of direct dry airflow.

Once the herb is completely dry, it may be stored in bags, sachets, or jars with lids as you see fit. It lasts several years in most cases.

How To Dry Lavender

Drying lavender is, in essence, done by simply storing it somewhere safe, secure, dark, and dry. 

First, you must harvest some lavender, and bundle the stems with rubber bands. Next, you hang the bundles somewhere out of the way, or you place them on drying racks or screens.

Most times the lavender is completely dry within one to two weeks.

There is an alternative method for drying lavender if you’re in a hurry and can’t wait a few days for all your herbs to dry out – the oven method.

Unbundle your lavender and spread it out onto a cookie sheet. Place them inside the oven, with it on low heat and the door cracked. Check every 10 minutes, and flip them over if necessary.

What To Do With Dried Lavender

There’s a wide range of things to do with dried lavender. Whether you’re looking for some inspiration in general or a quick idea just to use up a bit of leftover herb, consider the following:

  • Lavender bags/pillows
  • Stuffed envelopes
  • Use in decorations
  • Floral arrangements
  • Desk fresheners
  • Organic pest control
  • Potpourri ingredient
  • Ingredient in food and herbal tea
  • Wedding favors
  • Sell bulk at local market or online
  • Homemade gifts

Related Questions:

Should Lavender Be Pruned?

Lavender bushes should be pruned in the case that you aren’t harvesting them.

If you are harvesting your lavender two to three times per year, you are in essence pruning them as you go, and there is no need to further trim them.

By harvesting in the spring, summer, and fall, you are encouraging growth and managing their size.

Should Lavender Be Cut Back in the Fall?

Lavender doesn’t expressly need to be cut back in the fall, though a light trim doesn’t hurt.

In fact, if you are harvesting lavender in the spring, summer, or fall, you don’t need to cut it back at all.

If you don’t harvest your lavender, you should cut it back in the fall if it’s overgrown and straggly and possibly prune it in the spring or summer as well, depending on growth.

Conclusion

Harvesting lavender is most common in the early spring and summer months. It’s also popular to harvest in the fall before winter weather sets in.

You can harvest most lavender bushes at least two or three times per year for a total of over two dozen bundles per year.