Image courtesy of Sunset
Savor the fragrance of lavender by collecting and using unopened lavender buds. These tiny flower parts contain essential oils, just like lavender flowers. When you cut lavender flowers for drying, you’ll notice that unopened buds tend to fall from flower spikes. Or you can intentionally remove blooms and buds from dried flower heads. Collect lavender buds to use for crafts and cooking.
When you hang lavender bouquets to dry, place a sheet or tablecloth beneath flowers to catch any buds or blossoms that fall from flower heads. You can also tuck lavender bouquets into paper sacks as they dry to catch buds. In warm, dry regions, consider drying lavender flowers spread on a sheet or tablecloth on a deck or driveway. Cover the flowers with another sheet to protect them from debris and insects.
Drying lavender flowers typically takes 10 to 14 days. When spikes are dry, separate lavender buds from the flower heads. Roll the flower heads between your hands over a tray or bowl to catch the buds. If your hands and skin are sensitive, you might want to wear gloves.
Another method for separating lavender buds and blooms is to place dried stems in a pillow case. Roll it up to form a cylinder, and press on it as you roll it on a countertop. The buds will separate from the flower heads and stems. You can also take pillow-cased bundles and beat them against a hard surface, like a stone wall or driveway. k
Pull out dried stems after working to separate lavender buds. Don’t discard stems. You can use those as a fire starter in a fireplace or fire pit, or toss them onto grilling coals to flavor meat with an herbal smoke. Before burning, remove any rubber bands you used to bundle stems together.
Pour separated lavender buds and stem bits into a sieve. Make two different size sieves by stapling one-half and one-quarter-inch hardware cloth onto wooden frames. Pour lavender buds and stems into the half-inch sieve first, then put sieved buds through the quarter-inch sieve. Hand pick any remaining stems or debris.
Store small amounts of lavender buds in airtight containers in a dark spot like a cupboard or closet. Sunlight degrades the color and essential oil concentration of lavender buds. Use lavender buds to make sachets, or add them to soaps, candles or potpourri. Lavender buds also make fine additions to spice blends, desserts and meat rubs.
When planting lavender, if you know you’ll be harvesting buds, choose a variety that makes the process easier. Some types of lavender release buds or shatter more easily than others. ‘Provence’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Provence’) flowers and buds tend to shatter as soon as stems dry.
‘Grosso’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’), on the other hand, tends to hold onto its buds and blooms more tightly. If you want to harvest ‘Grosso’ lavender buds, you’ll have to work to remove them.