Lavender is one of the most popular flowering indoor and outdoor plants with an amazing aroma and colour. It’s a low-maintenance plant with many beneficial properties, plus it can make a great addition to any place. The good thing about this fragrant plant is that it maintains its beneficial properties and strong scent even if it is dried, which you can take advantage of and use in many DIY home crafts.
Drying lavender is the best way to preserve the scent of the plant for a long time and use it in many different ways. The scent of lavender, whether dried or fresh, can help you relax and calm down after a long tiring day. Thus, if you do want to enjoy the soothing and relaxing properties of lavender, let’s see how to dry and use it.
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When and how to harvest lavender
Lavender is one of the most beautiful and easy-to-grow herbs. It is so easy to grow that you can even take a cut of your lavender and, just like that, grow new plants. You can grow lavender plants in pots or raised garden beds. The only thing you need to do is to prune it the right way, and you’ll see it flourish. It is known for its soothing fragrance and beneficial essential oils used for beauty, cooking, and medicine. There are several lavender varieties to choose from, such as English lavender(or Lavandula angustifolia), Spanish lavender or French lavender plant.
The best time to harvest lavender depends on the part you want to dry. If you want to dry the leaves, then you can cut them any time. But, if you want to dry flower buds, you should do it just before they open since they’re more aromatic and colourful. Of course, you can dry opened flowers, but they aren’t the right ones, as they’ll lose their fragrance and colour after cutting. However, if you want to make lavender bags and make your closet smell amazing, give it a try.
Extra tip: Always harvest in the late morning when the plant is dry and its fragrance is at its peak.
When it comes to harvesting lavender, you should use sharpened pruning shears or scissors. If you need to sharpen your shears, check our article All you Need To Know About Sharpening Your Garden Shears. Cut the plants about 15-25cm below the buds to be able to form small bunches of lavender in case you are going to hang them to dry. If you want to dry the flowers, cut exactly below the blooms.
How to dry lavender flowers
Now that you keep your harvested flowers in hand, it’s time to talk about the drying process. In fact, there isn’t just one way you can dry your flowers. Luckily there are enough. So, let’s see all the details and follow the one that best fits you.
Hang lavender to dry
It’s probably the most popular and simplest flower and herb drying method. Here’s what you need to do:
- As soon as you have harvested a lavender bouquet, tie the flowers together with twine or a rubber band. Make sure you make groups of 15-20 stalks together, so they dry evenly.
- Choose a warm, dry place with adequate air circulation. A spot near an open window will be ideal. Make sure, though, that the spot is out of direct sunlight if you want your bouquet to keep its vivid colour.
- Get a paper clip and form a hook. Insert the one end under the rubber band. Hang them upside down to dry. Ensure you don’t tie the bouquets too tight because there won’t be enough airflow between the stalks, and mould might develop.
- Allow them to dry for a couple of weeks up to a month, depending on the climate and season.
- To check if the flowers have dried, try to break a stem. If it bends, it means that it isn’t completely dried, and you should leave it a bit more to dry. But if it breaks in half, then your bunch is ready.
Dry lavender on screens or in baskets
This drying method is similar to the first one. More practical, though, as you don’t have to make bunches and hang them, plus you can dry both the stems and the buds. Lay the flowers on screens or in airy baskets in a single layer. And that’s all! Place them in a cool, dark, dry spot and allow them to dry for a few weeks.
Dry fresh lavender on a countertop
The countertop method is very handy if you need to dry a few stems. It’s similar to the above except that you don’t need to get screens or baskets. All you need to do is to lay the flowers on the countertop or a table as soon as it’s dry. You can also lay them on old newspapers or a drying rack, ensuring that the stems will be laid flat throughout the process. Allow them to dry by checking them from time to time. When they feel crisp, they will be ready to use.
Dry fresh buds in the oven
A very fast way to dry your lavender blossoms is to use the oven. It doesn’t take long; just a few minutes will be enough.
- Set your oven at around 100 degrees Celsius.
- Lay some lavender buds or flowers on a sheet tray and place it in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, you should have your dried herbs. Check them if they’re fully dried.
Dry fresh lavender in the microwave
Yeap! That’s right! Since you can dry your fragrant herbs in the oven, why not use the microwave as well?
- Spread the lavender on a microwave-safe plate or a towel.
- Run your microwave for just one minute. Check if the lavender buds are dry.
- Keep running your microwave for 15-20 seconds and check for dryness. Keep doing the same thing until they’re fully dried.
Drying lavender in a food dehydrator
Another easy and quick way to dry your lavender is to use a food dehydrator. It’s very effective to make lavender-infused oil or salve. However, make sure not to overheat the lavender to keep its oils and therapeutic benefits to the highest level. Thus, set the device to the lowest temperature.
Let’s see the steps you need to follow:
- Pick the lavender buds. Leave the stems for your compost bin.
- Lay the buds on the machine’s trays in a single layer. If buds are falling through the trays, line a baking paper.
- Dry the buds in the lowest temperature setting.
- Depending on the buds size and the device, it will take 24-48 hours to dry.
- After the drying time has passed, check your buds. Dried buds should crumble when you touch them, and the middle stem shouldn’t bend.
How to store dried lavender the right way?
When the lavender dries, you have two options for storing it.
- You can either leave the buds on the long stems and create bouquets which you can then put them in vases placed on shelves, bookcases and tables.
- Otherwise, you can just strip the flowers off the stems and store them in airtight containers where they will keep their flavour and fragrance. Just be sure to keep the containers in a dry, cool dark place.
How to use dried lavender?
You have dozens of choices when it comes to using lavender. You can use them in aromatherapy, as they can reduce anxiety, depression and insomnia. What’s more, lavender can help you get rid of flies in the garden and spiders in the house. But, lavender doesn’t only smell nice and helps us relax. It’s one of the best ingredients to use in homemade body care products and medicine as it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties. However, it’s also a herb. Thus, you can use it in cooking as well, especially English variety.
Here are some of the uses:
- You can make sachets of lavender potpourri using small mesh bags. Crash one cup of dried flower buds and pour them into a glass bowl along with 2 cups of rice. Add 15 drops of lavender oil and mix them with a spoon. Your homemade potpourri is ready. Fill the sachets and use them in the dresser drawers, wardrobes, bathroom, car, or bedside cabinet.
- Create a lavender air freshener room spray. It’s very easy and cheaper than buying one. Boil a cup of water and add 4 tablespoons of dried buds. Remove from heat and let them sit for 5 minutes. Then place a coffee filter in a funnel and pour the mixture into a large glass jar. Remove the funnel and boil 1 ½ cups of water again. As soon as it boils, add it to the jar. Add 2 tablespoons of vodka and 12 drops of lavender oil, put the lid on the jar and shake very well. Wait for the mixture to cool down and pour it into a spray bottle. Your air freshener is ready.
- You can make your own bath bombs using lavender for an extra feeling of relaxation.
- Put small bunches in vases and decorate a shelf, bookcase or table. They won’t only make the room look more appealing but also smell nice.
- Use lavender bundles inside closets and drawers and bring a fresh scent to your clothes.
- Add lavender in sweets and marinades for meats or roasted potatoes and vegetables. You can sprinkle it or add it as a topping. It will add flavour and colour to your dishes.
- If you have bird nest boxes or a chicken coop (which, by the way, you can build on your own), sprinkle dry lavender flowers to get rid of flies, bad smells and calm down your chickens.
- Use the remaining lavender stalk as fragrant fire starters. Tie together the dried stalks and place them in a basket by the fireplace.
- Keep the old dead headed lavender stems and buds and use them as organic mulch, pests repellent and a soil top dressing.
How long does dried lavender last
The good news is that lavender will never go bad if it’s dried, and you can keep it for many years. The bad news is that after a while, its fragrance will fade away. That’s why the best thing to do is to renew your supplies every year. Since it’s an easy process, you can have a lavender aroma every time the previous fades away. However, if you can’t dry for some reason, just make lavender essential oil and add a few drops to refresh your old lavender.
As you can see, drying that soothing flower is pretty easy and doesn’t need much to do. Try out the above methods and pick the one that suits you the best. Keep that magic dried herb in containers, and make bath bombs, bunches to decorate your shelving units or use it cooking.