One of my absolute favourite flowers for my garden has to be lavender. I’ve had it planted in pots, window boxes and every garden in every home I’ve lived in, and now, in the cottage I plan to plant lots more. Not only is it pretty, easy to grow and a wow factor in the garden, the scent is just divine! It’s perfect for planting along pathways or in pots at your door where you will brush against it and release the scent.
My tips on growing lavender are not to over water, just like Mary Berry, they are not fond of soggy bottoms. They are a Mediterranean plant and like a well drained, sandy soil. Most importantly they love a hot sunny position in the garden. As for types of lavender, I prefer English lavender, I find it is much more suited to the Irish climate. French (image below) is pretty, but definitely doesn’t seem to last as long, for me.
Once your lavender flowers it’s time to harvest it. Not only do you get more from the plant, it encourages more growth and a healthier plant. It really is the gift that keeps on giving!
You can pick the flowers and dry them for an arrangement, or, I like to add little sprigs wrapped in twine to my gift wrapping, hang bunches on a hook in a bedroom, make handmade cards with them and my favourite, mix with epsom salts for the bath (see how to make DIY Lavender Bath Salts).
When to Harvest Lavender
The best answer I can give is early. Early summer, early morning, early flowering. I have started to harvest mine now, at the beginning of August. Use a secateurs or sharp scissors to snip your flowers. Depending on what you plan to do with them cut them to the length required. If you plan to tie a traditional dried lavender bunch, cut long stems. If you are planning to just dry the flower heads for epsom salts cut shorter ones. Either way, cut just above a node to encourage the plant to grow bushy, and avoid a woody plant. Avoid cutting into the woody growth at the bottom of the plant.
How to Dry Lavender
The easiest way to dry lavender is to tie in small bunches and hang, upside down, in a cool, dry place, out of sunlight.
Do not make the bunches too big as you will find the centre flowers will get mouldy, keep the bunches small.
Ideally hang in a dark place, this keeps the colour of the flowers.
It can take a couple of weeks or a month to fully dry. Totally depends on the temperature/climate where you live.
If you just want the heads of the lavender you can dry them in brown paper bags in the airing cupboard. Again, don’t fill too much or they will go mouldy.
Another option is to lie the lavender in a large basket and hang that somewhere to dry (note, as the florets dry pieces will drop out of the basket).
Do you dry your own lavender? If so what do you make with it. Let me know in the comments below.