How to Harvest Lavender Like a Pro

To harvest lavender, cut the stems just before the flowers open and hang them upside down in a warm, dry place until the buds are completely dry and can be easily rubbed off the stems. Lavender is a fragrant and versatile herb that can be used in a variety of ways, from adding flavor to dishes to soothing the senses in a sachet.

To use lavender, it’s important to know how to harvest it properly. Harvesting lavender at the right time and in the right way will help ensure that the herbs are flavorful, aromatic, and long-lasting. In this article, we will go over the steps to harvest lavender, including when to harvest, how to dry the plants, and how to store the dried lavender.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice, this guide will help you achieve a successful lavender harvest.

How to Harvest Lavender Like a Pro

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Understanding Lavender Plant Anatomy

Harvesting lavender can be a therapeutic and satisfying experience. Before you begin, it’s essential to understand the anatomy of the lavender plant. The lavender plant has a unique structure that separates it from other plants. In this section, we will explore the parts of a lavender plant, different lavender varieties, and the best time to harvest lavender.

Parts Of A Lavender Plant

The lavender plant has several key parts that play a vital role in its survival and growth. Understanding the basic anatomy of the lavender plant is the first step towards a successful harvest.

  • Leaves: Lavender leaves are narrow and elongated with a silver-grey color. They grow symmetrically on the plant, and their primary function is to absorb sunlight.
  • Stems: Lavender stems stand vertically and support the flowers and leaves. They are woody near the base and flexible near the top.
  • Buds: Lavender buds are where the essential oil compounds are produced. They grow at the tips of the stems and develop into flowers.
  • Flowers: Lavender flowers are the most recognizable part of the plant. They grow in shades of purple, pink, and white, and are what produces the aromatic fragrance.

Types Of Lavender Varieties

There are over 40 different varieties of lavender, each with its unique scent, color, and growth habit.

  • English lavender: This variety is the most widely grown and popular type of lavender. Its scent is sweet and floral, and it produces long, slender spikes of flowers.
  • Spanish lavender: Spanish lavender features a unique appearance with small flowers on top of larger bracts that resemble bunny ears. Its scent contains sweet and spicy notes.
  • French lavender: French lavender, also known as the butterfly lavender, boasts bright purple flowers and a sweet, fruity fragrance.
  • Lavandin: Lavandin is a hybrid of english and portuguese lavender. It has a stronger scent and less delicate appearance than english lavender.

The Best Time To Harvest Lavender

Timing is essential when it comes to harvesting lavender. The best time to harvest the plant is in the morning, before the sun dries up the essential oil compounds.

  • Lavender flowers should be at peak bloom, meaning they are just beginning to open.
  • Always use sharp scissors or pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant.
  • Cut the stem about two to three inches above the woody part of the plant.
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Harvesting lavender is a rewarding experience that requires patience and careful attention to detail. Understanding the anatomy of the lavender plant, different lavender varieties, and the best time to harvest is essential to ensure a successful harvest.

Pre-Harvest Preparation

Harvesting lavender is a delightful and fulfilling experience that requires proper preparation to ensure a bountiful harvest. Before harvesting lavender, it is essential to have the right tools and to prepare your lavender field accordingly. In this section, we will discuss the key steps and considerations for pre-harvest preparation.

Tools Required For Harvesting Lavender

To harvest lavender effectively, you need to have the right tools to ensure a smooth and easy process.

  • Sharp, clean pruning shears
  • A harvesting basket or bucket
  • Gloves to protect your hands from the sharp lavender branches
  • A wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and head from the sun while harvesting
  • A water bottle to stay hydrated in the field

Preparing The Lavender Field For Harvesting

Before harvesting, it’s vital to prepare the lavender field to ensure its readiness for harvesting.

  • Eliminate weeds: Lavender plants are delicate and can be easily crowded by weeds. Remove all the weeds, including their roots, to prevent competition for essential nutrients, space, and light.
  • Watering: Ensure that your lavender plants are well-watered, especially during dry spells. Lavender needs sufficient watering to thrive and flower well.
  • Remove dead flowers: This process increases airflow and light penetration, leading to better growth for healthy flowers. Dead flowers also serve as breeding grounds for pests, so remove them as quickly as possible.

Identifying Fully Grown Plants

The right time to harvest lavender is when the buds have fully grown and have started to open but before the flowers are in full bloom. At this stage, the buds are at their peak, and the essential oil concentration is also at its highest.

  • Look for the buds and ensure they are a plump, deep blue-purple color.
  • Check the plant’s fragrance. A fully grown lavender plant will have a powerful and distinct fragrance.
  • Ensure the stems are stiff, and the flowers are firm to the touch.

Pre-harvest preparation is vital in ensuring a bountiful lavender harvest. With the right tools and preparation, you can optimize lavender growth, and the harvesting process will be smooth and effective. Use the above guidelines to achieve successful lavender harvesting and enjoy the beautiful fragrance and calming benefits of this delightful herb.

Harvesting Techniques

Lavender plants are known for their fragrant flowers used for essential oils, soaps, and sachets. Harvesting lavender at the right time using the right methods is essential to maintain its quality. Lavender harvesting requires careful attention to avoid damaging the plant as well as ensuring maximum yield.

Here are some techniques for harvesting lavender.

Harvesting Techniques For Different Varieties

Different varieties of lavender require specific harvesting techniques. English lavender, for example, is best harvested when only a few flowers at the bottom of the spike have opened, while lavandin is best harvested on the first day when the flowers are fully opened.

  • English lavender: Cut when the first flowers at the bottom of the spike have opened, but most of the flowers are still unopened.
  • Lavandin: Cut on the first day when the flowers are fully opened.
  • Spanish lavender: Cut when the majority of the flowers are open, but before the flowers start to wilt.
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Hand Harvesting Vs. Machine Harvesting

Harvesting lavender can be done by hand or machine harvesting. Though machine harvesting may be quicker, hand harvesting helps achieve a better-quality yield.

  • Hand harvesting: Best for small farms, hand harvesting can be done by cutting the stem past the woody growth point, thus stimulating new growth. Delicate varieties should be carefully hand-picked to avoid damaging the plant.
  • Machine harvesting: Best for large farms, machine harvesting can be done using over-the-row harvesting equipment. However, machine harvesting can be rough on the plant and has the potential to damage the plant.

Pruning Vs. Shearing

Lavender plants have a woody stem base, and pruning is necessary for proper growth and long-term health. Lavender plants should be pruned every year to remove the woody stem base, and shearing is done to maintain the plant’s shape and structure.

  • Pruning: Involves removing the woody stem base to encourage new growth and promote long-term health of the plant.
  • Shearing: Used to maintain the shape and structure of the plant, shearing is done once or twice a year and involves removing most of the new growth above the woody stem base.

Harvesting Techniques Without Damaging The Plant

Lavender plants can be easily damaged during harvesting and can lead to reduced yields or, worse, plant death.

  • Use sharp tools: Always use sharp pruning shears or scissors to avoid crushing the stems while harvesting.
  • Avoid overcrowding: Work on one plant at a time and ensure there is enough space around it to avoid damaging nearby plants.
  • Timing: Lavender harvesting should be done at the right time. Harvesting too early can lead to poor quality, while harvesting too late can lead to woody stems.

Post-Harvest Processing

Harvesting lavender is the perfect way to enjoy its soothing fragrance and reap its benefits. However, it is also essential to know how to process and store it correctly. Post-harvest processing of lavender is crucial as it determines the quality and usability of the final product.

Here’s a handy guide on how to prepare, dry, and store lavender correctly.

Preparing Lavender For Processing

To ensure the best results, it’s vital to harvest the lavender at the right time and process it quickly.

  • Harvest lavender when buds in the first lower 1/3 of the spike begins to open.
  • Cut off lavender spikes using sharp shears or a sickle with long stems that are healthy and dry, and avoid damaging them.
  • Bundle 4-6 stems together and bind them using a rubber band or string tightly.
  • Remove any dried leaves, pests, or debris from the stems.

Drying Lavender

Drying lavender is essential for several reasons, including preserving it for later use and removing any moisture that may cause mold or decay.

  • Hanging: This method of drying lavender is simple and involves hanging the lavender bundles upside down in a warm, dry place, preferably with good air circulation.
  • Hang the lavender bundles in a dry and warm room or covered area by the rubber band or string.
  • Avoid areas that receive direct sunlight, as it can fade the color of the lavender and dry it out too quickly.
  • Check the lavender after 10-15 days to see if it has dried out completely.
  • Using a dehydrator: Using a dehydrator is a simple and effective way to dry the lavender quickly.
  • Place lavender stems in the dehydrator’s trays and set it at a low temperature of around 95°f to avoid burning the flowers.
  • Check the lavender after a few hours to see if it is dried correctly.
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Storing Lavender Correctly

Storing lavender is crucial to maintain its quality and fragrance for later use.

  • Store dried lavender flowers and buds in airtight glass containers or jars to avoid moisture absorption, which can lead to mold or decay.
  • Keep the jars or containers in a cool, dark, and dry location like a pantry or cupboard.
  • Label jars with the date of packaging to keep track of the freshness of the lavender.

Harvesting lavender is a beautiful and rewarding task, but it is equally important to dry and store it carefully. Follow these simple guidelines, and you can enjoy the soothing fragrance of lavender for months to come.

Tips For Harvesting Lavender

Tips For The Beginners To Harvest Lavender?

Harvesting lavender can be a daunting process, especially for beginners. But with a few easy-to-follow tips, anyone can do it like a pro!

  • Choose the right time of day: Lavender should be harvested early in the morning, before the sun is high in the sky and the plants start to release their essential oils.
  • Avoid harvesting in wet conditions: Harvesting lavender during or after rain can dilute the essential oils and reduce the fragrance and quality of your harvested crop.
  • Choose the right tools: Use sharp, clean pruning shears or scissors to snip the stems of the lavender. A harvesting knife can also be used to cut the stems efficiently.
  • Be gentle with the plant: To avoid damaging the plant, only pick one-third of the lavender stem, and do not uproot the plant.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Harvesting lavender might seem like a simple process, but there are a few common mistakes that beginners can avoid with our tips:

  • Over-harvesting: Over-harvesting lavender can harm the plant’s growth, structure, and fragrance. Therefore, always be cautious and limit harvest to one-third of the plant.
  • Cutting too short: Cutting the lavender stem too short could prevent the plant from regrowing next year. Always leave at least two-thirds of the stem for the plant to regrow.
  • Waiting too long: Lavender flowers can quickly turn brown if left on the plant for too long. Harvesting lavender at the right time is necessary to ensure the best fragrance and quality.

Best Practices To Follow During Harvest

Following best practices during the lavender harvest is essential for preserving the plant’s quality and aroma.

  • Cut the lavender at the right stem: Cut the stems above the leaves, about 2-3 inches below the flowers.
  • Dry the lavender correctly: It’s important to dry lavender properly to prevent mold. Tie small bunches of lavender stems together and hang them upside down in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated place for 1-2 weeks.
  • Store lavender correctly: Once dried, store your lavender in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag to preserve its fragrance for future use.

By following these tips, avoiding common mistakes, and adhering to best practices, you can harvest lavender like a pro and enjoy the beautiful fragrance and beauty of this versatile herb.

Conclusion

Overall, harvesting lavender is a simple process that can be enjoyed by anyone. There are some key tips to remember, including timing the harvest, using the right tools, and employing proper techniques to avoid unnecessary damage to the plant. From selecting the sweetest smelling buds to drying the lavender, there are many benefits to growing and harvesting lavender.

Not only does it promote relaxation and a sense of well-being, but it can also be used in a variety of products, from bath salts to sachets. By following these steps and taking the time to properly harvest your lavender, you can enjoy the sweet aroma and healing properties of this fragrant plant for years to come.

So whether you are a seasoned gardener or new to the world of lavender, this guide provides all the information you need to get started and reap the rewards of a bountiful lavender harvest.