I am a great fan of essential oils and herbs for everyday health and well-being.
There are many uses for dried lavender in and around the home. It can be used in home medical remedies, for scenting a room, in potpourri, for cooking, and for making lavender bags or lavender sachets.
Also, dried lavender is attractive and decorative. Some people hang them in bunches around the home or use them as part of a dried flower arrangement.
You can, of course, buy lavender already dried. But why would you when you can do it yourself at home?
It's an easy plant to grow and adds a wonderful scent and colour to any garden. It's also a plant bees love, so you might not want to harvest all of it—leave a little for the bees.
Once you do grow lavender and harvest it, it's fun to dry for use in all of the aforementioned projects. This article explains how best to cut and dry lavender, and how to store it for later use.
Choosing the Right Time to Harvest
You should pick your lavender when it has just opened fully and smells fragrant.
The newly opened blossoms and fragrance means it has a strong concentration of the essential oils and freshness you want to preserve.
If you leave the flowers to bloom for longer, the dried bunches will be less potent.
It's best to harvest lavender in the early evening, after a dry day. Harvesting at this time will mean that you do not need to dry any rain or morning/evening dew before being able to dry the flowers.
How to Harvest
When it's time to cut your lavender, get a pair of sturdy scissors or secateurs. Then follow these steps to harvest the plants:
- Cut carefully, avoiding crushing the flowers.
- You should cut just above the leaves, with a good long stem, to make it easier to hang the stalks for drying.
- Don't cut into the woody part of the plant; leave an inch or two at least of the green growth to encourage future flowering.
- Don't worry about damaging the plant—pruning like this will encourage the bush to grow even more enthusiastically the following year.
- Even if you want to leave some stalks of flower for the bees so that the rest of your garden benefits, it's a good idea to cut the stalk once the flowers as finished to encourage new and healthy growth next year.
Preparing the Lavender Stalks for Drying
If you have a drying rack for flowers and herbs, by all means, use it. But while racks are useful, if you do not have one, they're not essential.
If you don't have a rack, all you need is some string. There are two ways of tying the lavender stalks for drying:
- The first is to group about half a dozen lavender stalks together and tie the bunch firmly with string. This is the quicker method.
- The second is to tie the stalks individually, with about three inches between them. Each stalk is tied with a knot in the string so that if the ends of the string are held taut, the stalks hang individually from the string rather than in a bunch.
The first method is quicker and easier, and fine if you live in a place with low humidity. The second is useful if you live in a fairly humid area—the flowers will benefit from being separated and dry more quickly than they would otherwise.
You can also use rubber bands to hold the ends of the stalks together.
Drying the Flowers
Once the lavender stalks are on a rack or tied with string, you need to find a place to put them while they dry.
It's important that the stalks and flowers are in a dark and dry place so that they do not get mould or rot before they dry properly.
A warm place is best. The ideal drying area is 30 to 32 degrees Celsius for the first 24 hours and 24 to 28 degrees after that. It doesn't have to be exact, don't worry.
Suitable drying places include attics, lofts, and airing cupboards.
If you don't have a place that's suitably dark, you can cover the bunches with brown paper bags (with holes cut along the sides and bottom to allow air to circulate) and dry them in a place with more light.
Check the lavender every few days, as the stalks can shrink a little as they dry, and you may need to tighten the string or rubber bands.
It takes on average a month for the lavender to be thoroughly dried, but hanging longer will certainly do the bunches no harm.
Once it is dry, you need to store your dried lavender until you are ready to use it. You can store the flowers still attached to the stalks the way they were dried or by themselves, depending on the intended use.
If you want to keep it on the stalks, for hanging in a room or using in a dried flower arrangement, put the whole bunch in a paper bag and store them somewhere dry and dark, in a place that's neither too hot nor too cold. Dryness is more important than temperature.
If you want to use the flowers for cooking, tea, potpourri, or lavender bags, gently run your fingers along the stalks to remove the dried flowers. You can then store the flowers in a box or paper bag.
Questions & Answers
Question: At what stage of drying lavender do you make lavender bags?
Answer: Once the lavender is properly dried and flaked off from the stems, you can make lavender bags.
Question: How long do I hang lavender to dry it?
Answer: It really depends on the climate, and where you are drying them. It takes a lot longer if the humidity is higher.
Question: How can I dry just the flower heads as I left them for too long and the woody stem was too close?
Answer: Yes, provided they haven't gone entirely to seed.
Question: Can I dry lavender in our bedroom, and for how long? I've got fogate, Royal, and French, Seal, and Melissa. It's dark and cool in the room where I'm drying it.
Answer: I don't see any reason why not. Dark and cool (and not too humid) matters, the location doesn't, as much.
Question: Can I store my lavender flowers in a metal tea tin?
Answer: Before they are dried, no. They would probably go mouldy or rot. Once they are thoroughly dry, yes.
Question: Can I plant lavender in a shady area, like under my magnolia tree?
Answer: It depends on how shady. Lavender does need a fair bit of sun, as well as well-drained soil.
maggie on September 01, 2020:
Can you dry them in an oven or microwave
Linda Longstreet on July 23, 2018:
I removed the flowers from stems of 4 large bushes of lavender and now I have bites all over me, arms, legs and body. Are there bugs in lavender? Chiggers? Something? Anyone know?
Kathleen on January 29, 2018:
If you want to use lavender to impress and baffle friends and family get the cookbook - The Lavender Cookbook- by Sharon Shipley, Try the Lavender chicken chili with white bean first. My family no looks forward to new taste treats with lavender.
Linda on September 17, 2017:
How do you make lavender potpourri
Liz on August 02, 2016:
I have just experimented with drying in the oven,hanging in small bunches in the greenhouse and hanging in small bunches in a dark room.
The oven dried ones have no lavender smell after 3 weeks, the greenhouse dried are fine but the dark room ones are more successful and only take about a week longer. Hidcote is not as successful as Angustifolia.
lavendar tea on October 07, 2012:
i hadn't thought about lavendar sachets what a nice idea...which type of lavendar do i use to make tea?
Chris on June 04, 2012:
I've been looking for instructions and can't wait to make my bags! I use them for all sorts of things. Will definitely have to look up cookie recipes! I have English and Spanish Lavender. Are both dried the same?
Keri Summers from West of England on February 13, 2012:
Hello P&O. I found these instructions so helpful, that I've included a link to your Hub in a "bunch" of Hubs about lavender. I hope you don't mind.
Sharon on November 11, 2011:
I'm going to dry the leaves of my first-year's growth from my lavender plants. I hope to use them in my medicine bags that I keep in the freezer to use as ice packs when I have a migraine. I'm glad to learn that the plants will have flowers next year! Thanks for the info.
H. Pinto on September 06, 2011:
I think the instructions are very precise and clear; anyone can understand it... even me. I wish everybody could explain other things this way. Great job!
StephenSMcmillan on July 25, 2011:
Learned something new here. Thanks to share.
me on July 07, 2011:
i was wondering how you preserve the scent because mine does not smell any more, sadly. please answer back and thanks for all the information, it was very helpful.
ps plz answer back asap!
Rose on July 03, 2011:
VERY informative instructions, I'd like to try it myself. Was thinking to use it in my baking, but how do I know it's the right kind of lavender?
Polly B on June 15, 2011:
I've been growing a well admired lavender hedge for many years and so far it was just for the bees and butterflies, which give me such pleasure to watch.. now I will dry half of it for me! thank you. have to replace next year as going very woody so have taken some cuttings... ready for planting in the spring. Roses and lavender, lovely!
jacboromeo on April 19, 2011:
Some lavenders look nice but smell and taste nasty.
You have to get the right kind if you are going to use it for food.
craftybegonia from Southwestern, United States on February 20, 2011:
Great article. The aroma of lavender is wonderful!
Julie Bell on January 19, 2011:
i use the lavender in post-natal bath herbs for healing after childbirth. along with other herbs such as yarrow, calendula etc, they make a beautiful fragrant herbal bath that speeds healing. wonderful for new mothers.
Janet Vevere on November 07, 2010:
Thank you for the information. I was wondering if there was any way how to preserve the fragrance for a longer time? Doesn't draying the lavander for a month or longer in an opened space leads to losing the fragrance? As I am trying to do an English garden near Rome, my lavander is still in full bloom...
KK on November 05, 2010:
I use my dehydrator and it makes the house smell amazing! Everyone loves it when I am drying my chocolate mint, lavender and other herbs....its amazing!
Jules on August 27, 2010:
Very informative - just what I was looking for. Can't wait to make my lavender bags.
Selena on July 31, 2010:
I Like to break up the dried lavender and use as a carpet fresh when I vacuum. I have a dog and the vacuum holds the dog odor in the bag I brought special bags and spray from Oreck but it did not help. The lavender does wonders and the vacuum does not smell like dog when I turn it on anymore.
Johannah on July 29, 2010:
If anyone wants to go to somewhere beautiful then the Lavender field in Ickleford, Hitchin, Herts is the place to go. My children loved cutting it and bringing it home. I'm about to dry it so your website has been just as good a find.
Heather Squires on July 29, 2010:
Can't wait to give it a go!
Linda on July 11, 2010:
Thank you, need to dry all my lavender this year to throw at my daughters wedding in December. I guess now is about the right time to be doing it.
Lois on June 09, 2010:
My lavender is not as fragrant these last 2 years as it was the first year we moved here. I don't know how old it is. Should I cut it back in the fall?
Nicki on June 08, 2010:
Finally, easy to understand instructions to use this awesome plant.
Plants and Oils (author) from England on August 22, 2009:
Thanks very much, glad you liked it.
Gift Experts on August 22, 2009:
askjanbrass from St. Louis, MO on August 22, 2009:
Plants and Oils (author) from England on August 20, 2009:
Glad you found it useful, hope your lavender dries well
joebangles on August 20, 2009:
Thanks, I have just found this post at the right time as my lavender is ready from your description, but waiting now for the rain to move away for a couple of days, a good explanation.
Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 21, 2009:
Thanks Deborah, glad you have found it useful.
Deborah-Lynn from Los Angeles, California on July 19, 2009:
This is the information I have been looking for, thanks so much! I have so many lavender plants, I now do not have to limit my enjoyment to outdoors, dried lavender makes such lovely wreaths.
Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 18, 2009:
Lavender fields are wonderful, thanks Audrey!
Brian, home-made lavender bags are the best.
Brian Stephens from Laroque des Alberes, France on July 18, 2009:
My wife harvests our lavender and turns it into hand sewn lavender bags, they smell really good and its much better than letting it all go to waste.
audrey on July 17, 2009:
Beautiful lavender fields.
Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 14, 2009:
Lavender is great for cooking and herbal tea, too.
Make sure you plant it in well-drained soil, lavender needs to avoid water-logged soils.
If you plant in spring, you should get some flowers next year, and more the year after. The plants fade after about a decade.
LeM22 from Northern VA on July 13, 2009:
Thanks. I just bought a lavendar plant and was wondering how to do that! Doesn't it take two years before it flowers?
Camping Dan on July 13, 2009:
Lavender is easy to dry and I found a cookie recipe that uses it that I absolutely love.
LondonGirl from London on July 12, 2009:
My parents have lots of lovely lavender bushes outside their house - it smells wonderful!
Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on July 10, 2009:
These instructions are clear enough that even I could dry lavender. Ans I'm told lavender makes a wonderful tea!