Lavender plants are a beautiful and fragrant addition to any garden. The bees love it and the subtle fragrance the lavender plants releases when brushing against it while weeding or walking by the blooms is the sweetest of scents. It’s beautiful as both fresh lavender and the aroma in bundles. While lavender can be a fussy plant, growing and drying lavender isn’t as hard as you think! If you live in colder zones and want a few growing tips, make sure to watch the video that goes with this post.
The first trick to growing lavender is that Lavender likes really well-drained,sandy soil.
My grandma would have said, “they like to keep their feet dry…” very similar to the herb Rosemary… Which makes sense because they both grow very well in places such as Italy and California. I have mine on the western sun exposure on a slight slope in slightly sandy soil.
Every year I add a few new plants; occasionally with a really wet,damp winter I lose a few and have to replace them. You can grow your own lavender plants by using a layering technique to propagate new plants instead of always buying new ones.
We are zone 5A/5b here and I think it does so well where it’s at, it’s kind of a micro-climate and runs slightly warmer than the rest of the yard. There is a raised bed behind it and the house in front of it and it is sheltered by a fence. When growing lavender micro-climates are really important.
There are different lavender varieties including lavandula angustifolia (English lavender), Lavandula stoechas (French Lavender also called Spanish lavender or Butterfly lavender), and Lavandula intermedia (Lavandin). Which lavender variety to grow depends on your growing zone.
When you are ready to harvest lavender, the best time to clip the stems is early in the morning before the full sun hits them and evaporates much of their essential oils.
Gather them in bunches and wrap with a rubber band or twine. Hang them upside down, or spread out on an herb drying rack in a single layer. in a plain paper bag that has some slits cut in the side for air circulation. I like this method best because it allows for plenty of air flow and catches any lavender buds that fall off of the bunches as they dry. While they are super flexible, you can also twist the stalks into fragrant wreaths. You can use this technique.
When using the paper bag technique, hang them to dry in a cool area away from direct sunlight for a few weeks. Any flower buds that fall off are caught in the bottom of the bag and be removed when the lavender bunches are completely dried. make sure they are completely dried and throw out anything that could seem even possibly moldy. You don’t want any moisture left. Even though lavender stems aren’t as fragrant as the buds, you can still use them for potpourri or sachets. Store any dried buds or leave in tight jars with a lid until ready to use.
The best thing is, you can use the entire plant. You can make lavender sugar for baking in recipes, or making lavender syrup. The left over lavender stems can be used for laundry sachets orpotpourri, and the dried buds and leaves can be used for salt scrubs or sachets.
Even a few lavender stems or purple flowers by the bed at night in a vase are a sweet addition to your sleeping routine.