English Lavender

Harvesting English Lavender & How To Use It

Lavender is by far my very favorite scent. I love it fresh when the plants are in bloom, as it dries around the garden, in sachets tucked into my pillow at night, or as bath salts when I soak away the aches of the gardening day. This magical herb is said to promote relaxation, relieve stress, and even soothe an achy head. Oh and the bees and butterflies love it. We can’t forget the pollinators.Drying English Lavender on an old ladder in the garden

Harvesting lavender is a great way to tidy up unruly plants and will give you a whole bunch of inspiration for projects throughout the year. There is a proper way and ideal time to harvest lavender that is best for both the dried flowers and the plants.

Cabbage Moth on Lavender

Lavender is commonly grouped into English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) with its delicate flowers and long stems that soar above the woody evergreen plant, and Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) with its showy hat of bracts on a perennial shrub. I grow a few ornamental Spanish lavender plants but for year-round crafting and culinary use, it’s English all the way.

bunches of freshly harvested English lavender

The best time to harvest English lavender is when the buds have formed on the plant but the flowers have not yet opened. Lavender harvested at this time of year will fall off the stems more easily when dry, making it easier to collect. closed buds will also retain fragrance and color longer. The cultivar of your lavender will also determine fragrance, color, and longevity of the dried stems as well. Hidcote and Munstead English lavender varieties are noted by many to be the best for drying (L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ and  L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’).English Lavender

To harvest, use sharp bypass pruners and gather a small handful of long flower stems. Be sure that you are leaving  behind at least two sets of leaves on the green part of the stem. If you cut all the way back to the woody part of the stem, that stem will not regrow. I like to be generous and leave at least 3-4 sets of leaves on the plant, then go back and prune it to two sets of leaves on the green stem. This ensures that I’m not damaging the plant that gives me all these beautiful flowers! Continue collecting stems in your hand until you have a nice sized bundle. Secure the bundle with twine and continue until the plant is fully harvested.

Pruning the plants like this will keep the shrub tidy and evergreen through some colder climates. If your plants are leggy and you see lots of dead wood, it’s a good idea to summer prune them each year until they regain a tidier shape. You can safely prune back your lavender plants twice in the growing season to help define and maintain their shape.

How To Harvest English Lavender

Dry the bunches by hanging them in a warm, dry spot, out of direct sunlight. Under eaves, in the garage, or somewhere in the garden that is protected is ideal. My herb dryer is an old painting ladder outfitted with some hooks for the twine. But I have also dried lavender along a shady fence and made it into a dried lavender wreath. Adding some drying lavender around your home will make it smell heavenly. I highly recommend it.

After 2-4 weeks when the lavender has fully dried, you can shake or gently rub the flower buds into a tray or bowl. Store lavender in a lidded jar in a cool dark place and repeat next year.

In case you are wondering what to do with your bounty of fresh herbs, check out these DIY projects and recipes featuring this star of the garden.More than 20 creative ways to use lavender





About the Author : Stephanie RoseAn artistic gardener aiming to feed the body & soul through an urban potager garden & a community veggie plot in Vancouver.View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Randy
    RandyAugust 3,12

    I don’t know why I don’t have Lavender. I had a plant once and I absolutely loved it. Someone once told me the lifespan of Lavender is only about 3 years. Is this true? I like to plant something that will be around for a few years to come.

    • Stevie
      StevieAugust 3,12

      Hi Randy, definitely not true. If you follow the instructions in this post for pruning back your plants in the summer, the plant will continue to produce fresh green stems above a woody base. My plants are many, many years old and they produce quite a lot of lavender buds each year. I hope you do get some to add to your garden.

    • Barbara Simoes
      Barbara SimoesSeptember 4,17

      It might depend on where you live and how hardy the lavender is. My home used to be zone 4, but it has now been reclassified as 5A, but climate change isn’t real, is it? Anyway, Michigan Bulb carries “Phenomenal” Lavender which is hardier and I think, prettier than some of the standard lavender available. It wintered over beautifully with that lovely sage green color vs. that elephant grey! I found that the less hardy lavender did not last but a few years. I have great hope for this new type.

  2. R.
    R.August 4,12

    Lavender is not my favorite (too much chore-time spent pruning it as a kid, I think) but I love your ladder!

  3. Michelle
    MichelleAugust 6,12

    I too love lavender & visited a lavender farm this year! How glorious to sit in fields of fragrant lavender!
    I use mine in combination with other dried herbs in a blend of herbal salts to use with cooking & baking. I use about half ground herbs to half salt & it adds so much flavour to food, plus allows me to reduce the salt I would traditionally use.
    I’ve also experimented with lavender jelly & have ‘made believers’ out of many of my friends with this amazing flavour. (Think fresh, hot lemon scones with lavender jelly….mmmmmm)

  4. Adventures in Agriburbia
    Adventures in AgriburbiaAugust 6,12

    Why am I not growing lavender? Great photos and great post.

  5. Backyard Chili
    Backyard ChiliAugust 8,12

    Those are stunning pictures. Lovely.

  6. Laurel (@abubblylife)
    Laurel (@abubblylife)August 9,12

    Thank you for the tips! I have two lavender bushes and been wondering what to do! I LOVE LOVE lavender!

  7. Nancy
    NancyAugust 9,12

    I recently bought a perennial lavender plant at home depot but I have no idea how to take care of it. And tips or help? Thanks

    • Stevie
      StevieAugust 9,12

      Hi Nancy, it’s hard to know without knowing the kind of lavender and where you will be growing it. I would suggest you first check the label in the plant (if there isn’t one, go back to the store and get one and remember that for future its great to have the plant labels). Secondly, you can check out this search I did and if you see your plant there, click on it to see the care instructions. http://www.perennials.com/results.html?findplant=lavender&searchbutton.x=0&searchbutton.y=0

      In my home garden, I plant English Lavender in hot dry areas with lots of sun. They prefer acidic soil so I usually plant them with blueberries and top dress with composed bark mulch. I water them regularly, but they are fairly drought tolerant so they often go in roughest parts of the garden: near the sidewalk and road and far away from the hose. Lavender also grows really well in containers. Just ensure there is proper drainage and they get watered regularly. Care and pruning is as listed in this article.

  8. Paula
    PaulaAugust 10,12

    Your lavender is simply gorgeous. I wonder if I am to far south (Florida) to plant them. Your pictures are amazing. I would love it if you would share this post at our WIW linky party. Hope you can join us. :-)


  9. Rachel
    RachelAugust 10,12

    I always forget about lavender. It’s so beautiful! I am putting this on my list of things to plant next spring :)

  10. Karen Whitney
    Karen WhitneyAugust 11,12

    Thank you for the tips and ideas! I have quite a few lavender bushes in my front yard that I let grow wild. Now I have a reason to harvest it :)

    • marie
      marieOctober 31,16

      An easy tip for drying…. Spread it out in a container in your car… close windows and park in a sunny spot…. dried in no time and car is forever sweet smelling.

      • Barbara Simoes
        Barbara SimoesSeptember 4,17

        I’ve done this, too, and it does work beautifully. I also use rubber bands around the bottoms of bunches. It is much easier than tying twine. They can be easily removed and replaced with something fancier when the time comes, but during the harvest frenzy, it’s nice to have something quick and easy.

  11. Eleni
    EleniAugust 13,12

    Oh how I love lavender. It has followed us on each move. Thank you for the tips!

  12. Laura
    LauraAugust 14,12

    Hi Stevie, I have a couple of questions:

    1. Is the lavender harvested this way edible? I love the smell and taste of lavender and have always wanted to use it in my baking, but the price tag on specialty “edible” lavender in the stores has always put me off. As long as my plants aren’t being sprayed with harmful chemicals, is there any reason I can’t bake with it?

    2. I enjoy keeping the lavender intact (with stems) in its bundle and putting it in vases around my house. The only problem is that it sheds terribly. Every time I move the vase, dozens of little lavender buds fall off. This drives me crazy! Any way to avoid the mess?

    Thanks for a great article!

    • Barbara Simoes
      Barbara SimoesSeptember 4,17

      My first cutting of my lavender plants was done before the blossoms opened–no shedding; the second cutting was done after the flowers started opening–lots of shedding. Try cutting before the flowers really start to open.

  13. Stevie
    StevieAugust 15,12

    Hi Laura,
    1. Yes! It’s edible. Enjoy :)
    2. Regarding the shedding, I’m not sure. I know there are sprays you can buy but I’m not sure if I would use them given I stay away from synthetic products for the most part and it will also cover up the fragrance. Perhaps some other great minds out there have some suggestions…

    • Donna
      DonnaAugust 25,16

      Harvest the flowers early before the seeds have formed. I harvested two batches ths year; one early and one late. The early ones had no seeds.

  14. Ally
    AllyAugust 18,12

    These hanging lavender bunches look both sad and beautiful. I’m not sure it would grow where I’m from but I’d love to have some. Plus they’d take one look at me and die…..
    I’m your newest follower. The lavender got me. :)

  15. Susan M
    Susan MSeptember 4,12

    I am a Brit – but now live in northern Portugal. Three years ago we bought about 20 small plants and planted them under the windows of our bedrooms . We cut them back well in the spring, into the green wood – not the older, brown wood. This makes lavender branch out and grow really thickly. Just remember, lavender AND rosemary does NOT like being cut back so harshly that you cut into the old brown wood – but it loves to be cut back into the green growth! Last year .. it was already a ‘hedge’ as it had all joined together .. and flowered heavily! We prune it well every spring, and just trim back the dead flower heads we haven’t managed to use whenever we can ! Lavender loves the heat, the dry areas, and poorish soils. It grows almost anywhere !! AND .. if you are green fingered if you take little cuttings from your plants putting them in sandy soil you should be graced with lots of NEW plants for the rest of your garden!

    I have SO much dried lavender from last year .. and a HUGE amount to pick from this!! lol!! I made many many little sachets for lingerie drawers and for my grandchildren who like to put them under their pillows to remind them of Nanny! [They still live in the UK] I used those little voile bags you can buy to put jewellery in as they are SO cheap and come in so many colours too. I bought mine on ebay as they were much cheaper than even the local shops.

    I made lavender sugar, lavender bath salts and lavender lemonade which .. was such a success last year there wasn’t a party without it out here !!

  16. Deb
    DebJune 19,13

    Use the dried flower buds in homemade soap which includes lavender Eseential Oil.

  17. Helen at Toronto Gardens
    Helen at Toronto GardensJuly 6,13

    My lavender plant is brand new, so I only have a few stems for harvesting. But thanks for the tip about summer pruning, and my plant (growing in half shade. I know, I know.) is a little leggy. I remember our gran’s lavender *bushes* in Wales. Gorgeous.

  18. Sue
    SueJuly 19,13


    I have three lavender plants in different places in the front yard. I live in Virginia. All the plants flowers have lost their color and are grey. We have had a lot of rain. There is very good drainage for two of them and they are in full sun. Do you know what might be happening and what I can do to have them produce the flowers? Thank you, Sue

    • Stephanie
      StephanieJuly 19,13

      Hi Sue, it sounds to me like they already flowered and the gray is the dry buds. You could still harvest and use the dry buds, they just aren’t as pretty and fragrant. Next year, try to cathc them a bit earlier if this is the case.

  19. Angela
    AngelaJuly 19,13

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I planted some lavender at the beginning of this summer just for this perpose! And your tutorial has really given me some tips on how to dry it and use my lavender in ways I might not have thought about!

    Lavender is my all time favorite, the smell, and growing it has a feel of enchantment :)
    I don’t know what it is about it!

    Thanks again!

  20. Michaela Harris
    Michaela HarrisMarch 1,14

    Oh, I love this! I didn’t even consider planting lavender, but it would be so great to have! We are starting to brainstorm a little garden that would be feasible at our rental home. We ordered dried lavender buds and had the guests throw them (instead of rice or whatever) for our wedding last summer. It photographed so beautifully, smelled great, & didn’t stain anything. Anyways, thank you for the advice on how to harvest. I will be implementing it!

  21. Carol
    CarolMay 25,14

    For Randy & Steve:

    Check out # 3:. Lavender are short lived plants by nature. If they are happy in their spot, they will last a bit longer, but even under the best conditions, three years is not unusual for a plant to start dying out in the center.

    So I guess they aren’t long lived plants, but will require replanting, or at least some versions might.

    • Jendee
      JendeeFebruary 25,17

      There were two beautiful lavender plants when I moved to my house 19 years ago. One just kept coming back, the other got overgrown with weeds, but when I transplanted it 4 years ago, it had a second happy looking life. It is in my front yard and 8 times the size it was.

  22. Sarah
    SarahAugust 1,14

    I am glad I found this. I bought a lavender plant this year, and didn’t really have any idea of what to do with it except to look at it.

  23. Stephanie
    StephanieAugust 2,14

    Sarah, you can do so much! Have you seen this post: http://gardentherapy.ca/ways-to-use-lavender/

  24. Lyn
    LynDecember 10,14

    I have the english lavender and it grows a cottage garden with a westerly aspect. This is outside our bedroom window and the fragrance is wonderful during summer. I collect the flowers and place them in a bowl near the front door and the grandchildren love running their hands through it to get the lavender fragrance.

  25. Katherine
    KatherineApril 15,15

    Lavender is one of my favorite herbs! I have it planted in my garden, use it in soaps, and in cooking!

    This post would be a great fit for our Wildcrafting Wednesday series on MindBodyandSoleOnline.com. Wildcrafting Wednesday is a weekly link up to share posts on herbs, home remedies, self-sufficiency, and holistic living. I hope you’ll stop by and join us!

    Thanks! :)

  26. Laura Fernsler
    Laura FernslerJune 29,16

    Thank you so much for a wonderful, helpful article. I currently have 7 lavender plants in my garden and a few spots around the yard, my goal is to have at least 15. I am learning by trial and error, mostly error, but this year the blooms are extravagant on 4 plants, the other 3 are newly planted. My question that I cannot find addressed anywhere, after reading hundreds of online articles, blogs and in every book I can find is….what to do if I just want to enjoy the blooms on my plant? Several I have harvested for bouquets around the house, etc. but I also would like to have at least 1 or 2 simply blooming. I love sitting in my chair to just enjoy my garden. I find such joy in simply looking at the beauty. (Very hard work in my hot, windy, dusty, did I say hot Wichita, KS, weather.) and especially my lavender. The Phenomenal I planted last year has a span almost 4 feet wide and high…it is so incredible. But, I just cannot find any information on how to care for it as a beautiful blooming plant. I sincerely hope you can offer some advice.

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseJune 30,16

      Good for you, Laura! I would let them bloom and cut them back when they are finished. I don’t think the care is much different, although since they are such hardworking plants, they might not last more than 5 years or so before looking a bit spent.

  27. Janet Vinyard
    Janet VinyardJuly 4,16

    Hi Stephanie, Thanks for all the useful information about lavender! I love the wreath in your post – very beautiful! Blessings, Janet

  28. Marie
    MarieJuly 5,16

    Can I just say that your lavender drying looks absolutely gorgeous?! I kind of have this dream of filling my entire front garden with it but I don’t know it my family would go for it. Thank you for sharing your tips and ideas with us at Merry Monday this week!

    • Stephanie Rose
      Stephanie RoseJuly 11,16

      Thanks, Marie!

      • Barbara Simoes
        Barbara SimoesSeptember 4,17

        I have ten phenomenal plants around the periphery of a bulb/peony bed that backs up onto the south side of a garage. It is semicircular in shape. I was intrigued to learn that lavender helps repel pesky insects like mosquitoes and flies, as well as some rodents–they don’t like the smell. Maybe that would help convince your family, Marie!

  29. Laura
    LauraJuly 8,16

    What an interesting, informative post.
    Lavender is so elegant and beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing this at Thoughts of Home. We are so glad you are here.

  30. Cat @ Pocketful of Posies
    Cat @ Pocketful of PosiesJuly 12,16

    Beautiful! I love lavender! Thank you for all the tips and for sharing at Dream. Create. Inspire. Link! Pinning and Sharing!

  31. Joanne
    JoanneJuly 14,16

    Love, love lavender. Thanks for the informative and inspirational post. Your garden and photography are lovely!

  32. Debra @ Bowl Me Over
    Debra @ Bowl Me OverJuly 14,16

    Oh my goodness so many beautiful ideas!! Lavender is my very favorite and you’ve showcased beautiful ideas! Thank you for sharing with us at #FoodieFriDIY I wanted to let you know I’ll be featuring your great DIY ideas this week!

  33. Crystal Green
    Crystal GreenJuly 18,16

    This is a wonderful scent. I like it a lot too. This was interesting bits of information to learn.

    Thank you for sharing this with us on the #HomeMattersParty.

  34. Drea
    DreaJuly 24,16

    I put one plant in about 8 years ago and it’s a big beautiful purple puff ball that takes up a 4 ft by 6 ft area now.

  35. Allyson Goyette
    Allyson GoyetteJune 22,17

    This was an excellent article. My question is since I live in zone 3 (northern Alberta Canada) with winter temps dropping to -30C I have had no luck with perennial lavendar plants. I just bought 2 gorgeous specimens that are stoecha variety and was considering planting them in containers. Do you know the best way to winter these over indoors? Would I be best to I treat them as houseplants or place in a dark cool room in the fall?

  36. Rachel
    RachelSeptember 3,17

    Hi, I was wondering how to dry lavender in bunches so it doesn’t lose it’s colour and doesn’t shed the flowers.

  1. 101+ Dehydrating Recipes for Food Storage, Hiking and Paleo Diets | Mom With a Prep Blog - Helping Prepare Families06-25-13
  2. 101+ Dehydrating Recipes for Food Storage, Hiking and Paleo Diets | Mom with a Prep08-06-13
  3. Eco Snippets » How To Harvest & Dry Lavender11-27-13
  4. How to Decorate with Vintage Ladders {20 Ways to Inspire} | TIDBITS&TWINE01-06-14
  5. How To Harvest And Use Lavender | Health & Natural Living02-13-14
  6. Repurposed ladders - 80 PLUS ways to decorate with a charming ladder!Funky Junk Interiors02-21-14
  7. From Soothing the Body and Mind to Bringing Pollinators to the Garden, 10 Ways to Use Lavender | Briscoe's Seeds for Thought04-24-14
  8. How To Harvest & Use Lavender — Homestead and Survival05-18-14
  9. Home Decor: Vintage Ladders10-24-14
  10. How To Harvest Lavender | Howtoinstructions.cool12-09-14
  11. Repurposing Wood Ladders As Garden Art - Empress of Dirt12-20-14
  12. Lavender Seeds - A Packet Full of Hope - Knick of Time02-09-15
  13. 18 Soothing Ways to Use Lavender at Home - Garden Therapy06-29-15
  14. Let’s Read a Book……Or 2 Week 7 Chapters 37-39 | woodzey1's Blog07-25-15
  15. From Soothing the Body and Mind to Bringing Pollinators to the Garden, 10 Ways to Use Lavender - The Herb Exchange02-17-16
  16. Reduce Summer Pest with herbs | Dandelion Community05-09-16
  17. 13 Natural Ways to Make Your Home Smell Amazing - 99Nurse99Nurse05-12-16
  18. 25 ідей, які перетворять ваш сад на райський куточок - FUNME - творчість і розваги07-03-16
  19. 25 уютных идей, которые превратят сад в райский уголок | BuBa.Ga07-07-16
  20. 25 ideias inspiradoras para transformar o seu jardim num paraíso - Bastante Interessante07-12-16
  21. Idea Box- Link Party #71 | Mila's Little Things07-14-16
  22. Weekly Readings – Wooly Witchy: Tarot, Wool, and Witchcraft07-16-16

Leave a Reply