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When to harvest lavender (at the Right Time)

Do you have any lavender plants blooming in your garden? Continue reading to discover how to harvest fresh lavender flowers, as well as numerous other methods to dry them and put them to use! The aroma of freshly blooming lavender is, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorites among all of the smells that can be found in our garden. 

But lavender is not simply a gorgeous flower with a pleasant scent. It has many more uses as well. Lavender is a plant that can be consumed, it has a wide range of uses, and it is one of the most beneficial plants for healing. In addition to this, pollinators are drawn to it in large numbers, which is always a quality that should be looked for in a sustainable garden.

harvest lavender

Whether it is English, Spanish, and French! All of these suggestions on how to harvest and dry lavender are applicable, regardless of the kind of lavender that you plant. The gathering of lavender is a very simple process. In addition to this, the more you choose, the more flowers will appear! 

This post will cover when the optimum time is to harvest lavender. Let’s get started:

Caring for Lavenders

For a better harvest, we should first make sure our lavender grows to its full potential. Below are some quick tips to grow healthy and beautiful lavenders in the garden. Read this section to know if you’re growing them right or wrong.

If you have the correct environment and circumstances, growing lavender doesn’t need much attention or effort. Lavender may be grown as a perennial in USDA zones 5-10, however, the level of happiness experienced by individual plants can vary depending on the kind of lavender or the environment in which it is grown.

Lavender

For instance, our garden in zone 9b/10a produces abundant growth of lavender, which we affectionately refer to as “weeds.” Lavender bushes grow to a height of several feet in all directions and bloom throughout the vast majority of the year here. 

People who live in Florida, which is also in zones 9b and 10a, may have trouble growing lavender at all. This is due to the fact that lavender grows best in dry, warm, and sunny Mediterranean climes, and that it does not tolerate high levels of humidity or damp circumstances well.

Growing lavender in a pot is a good idea if you live in an area with a lot of rain and humidity. Make sure to choose potting soil that has good drainage and is combined with sand or even cactus potting mix. A void overwatering it. The most common factors that trigger the death of lavender plants are an excessive amount of moisture and overwatering. Roots that are always wet are at a high risk of developing a fungal illness and ultimately dying.

When planting lavender in the ground, find a spot that gets enough light and has soil that drains well and is sandy. Growing lavender does not need a significant amount of compost, fertilizer, or soil that is too rich. In point of fact, it thrives best in rocky soil that is deficient in nutrients.

Growing lavender from seed is a hard process that requires patience and attention to detail. If you want to start growing lavender inside, follow these steps, but leave the seeds at least a couple of weeks to germinate. Starting with an existing seedling or plant from a nursery is the quickest and simplest approach to successfully cultivate lavender. In all candor, that has been our practice from the very beginning! 

Be patient with young plants, since they may experience periods of slower growth in the beginning. By the second or third year, the roots will have grown established, and the plant will develop and blossom with more energy. The first year is spent sleeping, the second year creeping, and the third year leaping forward.

Read: How to care for lavenders

Harvesting Lavenders

If you’ve been able to cultivate lavender with success, you’ve reached the phase that is both the simplest and most rewarding: harvesting. The good news is that your lavender will produce an increasing number of blooms regardless of how much you trim it. The act of harvesting and trimming lavender promotes the plant to branch out, which ultimately results in a plant that is bushier.

When I talk to people about growing lavender, one of the questions that come up most often is, “When is the ideal time to harvest lavender?” and “just what are the steps involved in harvesting or trimming lavender?” – so let’s talk about everything said above!

When to harvest lavenders

The ideal time to harvest lavenders is during early morning early spring and when they bloom early. If you pick the lavender flowers in the early spring, the plant will have plenty of time to develop another batch of blossoms, which you can then enjoy once more in the late summer or early autumn. 

Read: When does lavender bloom

Lavender

This is particularly important to keep in mind if you have a brief growth season throughout the summer. You are able to repeatedly collect little bunches of lavender throughout the year if you live in a location that does not experience frost and where certain types of lavender may bloom continuously.

The optimal time to pick individual lavender flowers is early on in their bloom cycle. This is the case if you want to achieve your goal of obtaining the richest possible aroma and essential oil content. That is when the immature, sensitive buds are still closed and only beginning to show signs of blooming. Flowers of the lavender plant that have fully opened will have the most vibrant color and are very desirable for use in bouquets. The perfume of mature lavender flowers and the amount of therapeutic oil they contain both diminish with time. 

Additionally, mature flower buds that have begun to brown may break more easily and come off the stem, which is not ideal for bouquets and can make the drying process more unpleasant. Nevertheless, I don’t let that stop me from utilizing older blooms every once in a while either! It is preferable to remove wasted flowers later than never since this practice is beneficial to the plant in any case.

Finally, medicinal flowers are often gathered by herbalists in the early morning hours, after any dew that may have been present has evaporated but the plants are still cheerful from the cold night air. Due to the intense heat of the sun, some of the aromatic essential oils and terpenes will begin to evaporate as the day progresses. When I want to manufacture medical oil from lavender buds, in particular, I make it a point to follow this technique as closely as is practically feasible. Nevertheless, life is hectic, so grab opportunities while you can.

The right time to harvest lavender

When to harvest lavender for Right Time
DryingTill  50% – 100% plant bloom
potpourriTill 25% – 50% plant bloom
Culinary useWhen buds just begin to bloom
Essential oilsWhen 50% – 100% blooms are opened
SyrupIn bud stage
BakingAll blooms are opened

If you want to make a product of great quality, collecting lavender at the optimal period is very necessary. This is true regardless of what you want to use the lavender for. If you pay attention to how your lavender plants develop and change throughout the course of the growing season, you’ll be capable of determining when the plants are mature enough to be harvested.

Lavender plants, after the temperature, warm up in the spring (and once they have been well pruned in the spring), will begin to send up stems that are firmly closed.

As the buds develop atop the spikes, their color gradually shifts from green to a bluish-green color that resembles lavender.  

After that, the flowers, known as the corolla, emerge from the buds, and at this point, the lavender is in full bloom.

Lavender

Not every bud on a single spike will open at the same time. Take a look at these two examples of spikes, for instance:

These bunches of lavender come from the same plant as the rest of the plant.

#1 is not yet ready to be harvested since it is still in its “green” state. Take note of the fact that its buds are entirely closed, despite the fact that they retain their see-through, greenish color.

Lavender

The second one is ready to be picked. Many of its buds (the ones with the dry have already flowered, while some of its buds are now in the process of blooming fully.

After it comes to harvesting a stem of lavender, you should do it when about 1⁄2 of the buds have opened up.

Obviously, you may not feel like picking individual stems of lavender when you gather it. You may pick different portions of the plant at different times, depending on which area of the plant is at its greatest bloom. This allows you to handle your lavender plants in sections.

You may also take into account what you want to do with the lavender in order to decide the optimal time to harvest it. 

Take, for instance:

For essential oil wait until between 50 and 100 percent of the buds on the lavender plant have opened up before collecting it so that it may be processed.

When collecting lavender for dried buds to use in potpourri, sachets, or culinary purposes, it is best to harvest the plant when between 25 and 50 percent of the buds have bloomed.

Those of us who are interested in doing things in a systematic manner might give the following strategy a shot: When evaluating the overall openness or availability of a plant or area of plants, a random sample of around twenty lavender stems should be taken.

Start harvesting

Lavender

The best way to be good at something is by doing it repeatedly. As you now know the basics of harvesting lavender, it’s time to grab your sharp shear or hand sickle and start harvesting lavender. In a few attempts, you will become more aware of the variations of your lavender plants as you spend more time in their presence.

You should trim low so that you obtain long stems, but you shouldn’t cut into the woody root of the plant since this will prevent new growth from occurring the next year.

Bring along some rubber bands so that you may form bundles of lavender as you gather them. These bundles can be enjoyed fresh or hung upside down in a dark and cool location to dry out. When you are harvesting, you may accelerate the drying process by removing part of the leaves off the plant.

Additionally, you should always try to complete your harvest in the early morning hours, before the heat of the day sets in. Since the oil in lavender evaporates in the warmth of the day, the best time to pick it up is early in the morning, preferably before 10 a.m. This will ensure that you get lavender with a greater concentration of oil.

You won’t need much time to become an expert lavender harvester if you put in some practice and pay attention to what others do.