Grow lavender for its beautiful, fragrant presence in the landscape, but don’t stop there. This pretty herb has many uses in the home, most of which start with dried lavender. Harvest the pretty purple flowers to make dried lavender bunches or dried lavender buds for potpourri or sachets. Drying lavender isn’t difficult. Learn how to dry lavender.
Drying lavender starts with harvest, and that process varies depending on what you’ll do with your dried lavender. If you plan to make dried lavender bunches, clip lavender flowering stems when blooms are open at the base of the spike or roughly three-quarters of the flowers are open on each stem.
Waiting to cut lavender at this stage ensures you’ll have a stouter stem to work with, as well as plump flower heads. At this point, lavender flowers are also at their peak for color and fragrance. Sun bleaches the color from lavender flowers, so aim to cut them as soon as they’re ready. If you wait to cut lavender flowers until all the buds are fully open, the blossoms will shatter easily after they dry.
Cut lavender flowers in the morning after dew has dried. Avoid cutting stems on a rainy day. Flowers dry best—with less chance of mold or mildew—when they’re dry to start. Cut stems on the long side, especially if you’re planning to make a lavender wreath. You can always trims stems after they dry.
For drying lavender, bundle stems together so that flower heads are lined up. Use two rubber bands per dried lavender bunch—one just beneath the flower heads and one at the base of stems. Hang bundles upside down to dry in a dark, warm spot. Protect drying lavender from sunlight to retain best color, and place a sheet beneath the bundles to catch any buds or blooms that might fall. You should have dried lavender bunches in about seven to 10 days, depending on humidity.
You can also dry lavender by arranging loose stems in a basket or on a screen. Keep them in a single layer, if possible. In dry climates, gardeners sometimes place loose lavender stems on a sheet or tablecloth on a deck or driveway, covering blooms with another sheet to keep out debris. This method typically takes a week to 10 days to yield dried lavender, depending on relative humidity.
If flowers have bloomed to the tips and you’re still wanting to harvest, no worries. Just snip stems and dry. After flowers are dried, you can harvest lavender buds to use in crafts like potpourri, sachets or soaps.
Or you can store dried lavender buds to add their sweet floral flavor to kitchen creations. Like other herbs, dried lavender buds are more potent than fresh. When recipes call for fresh lavender, substitute half as many dried lavender buds or blooms.