There are endless uses for lavender at home — in food, as display, for essential oils. But one of the easiest uses is drying lavender. It looks pretty, and smells heavenly too. Dried lavender is soothing and calming, and really makes a room feel homely.
As for how to dry lavender, it’s easy! Of the different types of lavender, go for the English or French varieties, since they contain plenty of oils. You can dry either the flowers, or the leaves and sprigs. Make sure you cut the lavender buds from the plant before the flowers open. Methods for drying lavender include hanging, sun-drying, and using an oven or microwave.
Ready for a pretty bouquet of sweet-smelling buds? Grab a pair of pruners and get ready to cut — it’s time to dry lavender.
After you’ve grown your plant — whether you grow from seed or you propagate lavender — you’ll need to harvest lavender at the right time. Leaves and sprigs should be taken after the plant is done blooming. Meanwhile, lavender buds must be picked before they’re in full bloom. That means taking the flowers before the florets open, while they’re still bright purple.
(And since it’s important to regularly prune lavender plants, you can use those cuttings for your dried lavender!)
Make sure to pick the right time to harvest your lavender flowers. This way, they’ll retain the most fragrance for longer, and they won’t fall apart while you dry them. Also try to take lavender flowers around mid-morning, after the dew has evaporated.
You can still dry lavender after the flowers open, but they’ll lose their colour and fragrance much faster. So time it right — you want the best dried lavender, after all!
How To Dry Lavender
Drying lavender is easy and straightforward. There are several methods — drying by hanging, leaving lavender in the sun, or using a microwave or oven. Once you’ve gathered your lavender to dry, pick the method that works best for you.
Preparing to dry lavender
When you’ve gathered your lavender for drying, take a sharp pair of precision pruners. This will ensure the best, cleanest cut.
If you’ll be drying lavender buds by hanging, then cut the flowers at the base, right above the leaves. If you’ll be sun-drying lavender or using an oven, cut just below the buds.
For leaves, simply pluck individual ones from the stem, preferably closer to the tip so they’re fresh and green. Otherwise, snip your lavender sprigs once they’re done blooming — you don’t want to sacrifice your flowers, after all.
Drying lavender by hanging
One of the simplest ways to dry lavender is by hanging it upside-down. This is best for small bunches with long stems — perfect to make lavender bouquets.
Depending on how humid it is, your dried lavender may take up to a week or more.
To dry lavender by hanging, you’ll need to:
- Gather a bunch of lavender stems (about 10-15)
- Secure them with string or a rubber band
- Hang the bundles somewhere cool and dry, away from the sunlight
- Make sure the flowers still get good air circulation
- Check the flowers every few days to ensure they’re not moulding
You’ll know when lavender is completely dry when the stems feel brittle and the buds fall off when disturbed. Then your dried lavender is ready for use.
Drying lavender in the sun
This method is quicker than drying lavender in a cool, dark room, but it’ll bleach the colour from the buds. If you don’t mind a paler purple shade, then simply lay your lavender stems out on a drying rack or a wooden board. Place the rack somewhere that gets plenty of sun (indoors or outdoors is fine).
Check on your lavender frequently to make sure it’s drying and not moulding (and that it hasn’t blown away, if it’s outside!). It should take about a week for lavender to dry in the sun — shorter if it’s particularly hot.
Drying lavender with a microwave or oven
If you want to dry lavender very quickly, you can always use a microwave or an oven! With this method, you need to be very careful or you might burn your stems. (But as a plus, your appliance will smell great.)
For the oven, preheat to its lowest setting. Spread your lavender on an ungreased baking tray, and place it in the oven. Check every ten minutes, and remove as soon as the stems are dry.
For a microwave, set it on medium heat and run for a minute. Check for dryness once that’s done. Continue in 20-30 second bursts until the buds and stems are dry.
NOTE: A dehydrator will also work — just keep an eye out so the stems don’t crumble!
How To Store Dried Lavender
Lavender needs to be completely dry before storing. The flowers and leaves will feel brittle, and fall off when touched.
Either remove the flower buds by gently running your fingers up the stem, or simply leave them on. To keep dry lavender for longer, store it in a clear jar or similar container, and place it somewhere cool and dark. Otherwise, display your dry lavender however you like!
Uses For Dried Lavender
The best and most popular use for dried lavender — like many dried herbs and flowers — is for display. You can gather a bunch of lavender and tie it together with some ribbon or raffia, then display it in a vase or on a shelf.
Besides this, you can collect the lavender buds and use them in potpourri or lavender sachets. If you want a relaxing night in, scatter them in your bathtub along with a lavender bath bomb or some bath salts. Or if you’re lucky enough to own a fireplace, the sprigs add some excellent fragrance for a dreary winter day.
Dried lavender keeps for a very long time, but it’ll lose its scent over the months. If you want to keep fragrant blossoms around, dry lavender about once a year, or refresh with lavender essential oil.
Caring For Fresh Lavender
Lavender plants don’t need much care once they’re established — they’re very drought tolerant, and can mostly be left to themselves. The most important part of maintenance is pruning your lavender plants, since it encourages healthy growth and lush blooms. If you’re not confident in pruning your lavender, get a professional gardener to help you out — and trim the rest of your plants, too!
The important thing when it comes to drying lavender is not to cut too much, since you want to let some of the flowers bloom, after all. Then you’ll get to enjoy both fresh lavender and dried lavender buds — the best of both worlds.