Grow lavender flowers, and you’ll be raising a plant that’s beautiful and useful. These purple blooms bring beauty to the garden and vase, and they’re also a terrific addition to all kinds of craft projects and kitchen dishes. Lavender flowers are prolific and easy to grow, and harvesting them for various uses is a snap.
A mature lavender plant can produce up to 1,000 lavender flowers. So each plant you tuck into your garden can provide an ample supply of blooms for a multitude of uses. Lavender flowers open in a spike comprised of tiny individual blooms. Small bracts cradle the base of the blooms. ‘Grosso’ lavender flowers (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’) are favorites for drying and crafting because the bracts are purple, creating an even more intense lavender flower.
2013, Taken from "Seeing Flowers" by Teri Dunn Chace. Photography by Robert Llewellyn. Published by Timber Press, Portland, OR. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) has unusual blooms. The flower spikes are stouter than English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and petals stand upright, creating a flag effect. These lavender flowers are favorites in the garden and vase.
To harvest lavender flowers for bouquets or drying, cut stems when roughly three-quarters of the individual buds on a flower spike are open. When that many blossoms are open, you should see a few of the lower buds open, too. This is an ideal time to harvest lavender flowers because the essential oil concentrations are highest, which means you’ll have a rich fragrance from the blooms.
Dry lavender flowers by gathering them into bunches and hanging them upside down in a dry, dark, warm place. Or arrange lavender flowers upright in a vase without water. With either method, drying time depends on relative humidity, but you should have dried lavender flowers in 7 to 14 days.
If you’re harvesting lavender flowers for cooking, choose ones that are fresh and fully open. Avoid picking blooms that are spent and dried up. These tiny dried up flowers can resemble insects in dishes. Use lavender flowers fresh, dried or fresh frozen in desserts, meat rubs, beverages or marinades.
Lavender flowers that work well in the kitchen include ‘Provence’ lavender (Lavandula x intermedia ‘Provence’), which makes a nice addition to Herbes de Provence spice blends. English lavenders bring a sweetly floral flavor to desserts, and ‘Hidcote’ English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’) adds a rich fruity taste. English lavenders ‘Rosea’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Rosea’) and ‘White Ice’ (Lavandula angustifolia ‘White Ice’) bring sweet, candy-like flavors to cakes and cookies.
In the garden, lavender flowers stage a long lasting show each summer. The purple blooms beckon all kinds of pollinators, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. A host of beneficial insects also visit flowers, making lavender plants an ideal addition to a wildlife or butterfly garden.