Not Martha

to make: lavender experiment


week 1 cut


week 1 dried


week 2 cut


week 2 dried


week 3 cut


week 3 dried


week 3 and five days cut


week 3 and five days dried


week 4 cut — Don’t cut it yet.

week 4 dried

week 5 cut — Cut it now.


week 6 cut — Cut it now.


The difference in buds between the second and sixth week (week 1 was too early and difficult to get buds off of).

It was summer of 2005 and surprise, that stuff growing in my front yard is lavender. I wasn’t sure when to cut the blooms to get the best smelling buds, and not being a person that can learn anything unless I do it myself, I decided to cut some each week and keep track.

After week 6 the plant was blooming all over and the bees were making sweet love to it. Not being one to ask to get stung I decided I had enough lavender and didn’t cut anymore.

We did a sniff test using coffee as our between week cleanser. Weeks 2 through 4 were deemed “weak”. Week 4 and 5 days was “more floral” and “soapier”. Week 5 was “more ripe”, and week 6 “delicate yet lavendery”.

So there it is, cut when it looks like the picture for week 5 or 6.

49 Comments

49 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Emily // Mar 5, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    I absolutely love the smell of lavender, but I have allergies and a phobia of bees.

  • 2 Rachel // May 10, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    That’s really good to know. Is it really hard to grow lavender?

  • 3 Caroline // May 24, 2007 at 10:22 am

    I love lavender and grow several different varieties in my gardens. It is easy. At the end of the season I cut as many buds as I can and create lavendar laundry bags that you can place in your dryer with your clean wash. It adds a wonderful smell and is a natural moth repellent! I also make hand made soaps with many different herbs from my garden including my lavender.
    Kudos to you and this site. I’ll be back often!

  • 4 Renee // Jun 21, 2007 at 8:20 am

    This is exactly what I needed!! A picture that shows me what a mature bloom looks like! Thanks a million!

  • 5 PAT BENNETT // Jun 30, 2007 at 4:46 am

    THANKS FOR THE PICTURES THEY HAVE TAUGHT ME ALOT,THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE CUT LAVENDER FOR DRYING SO HERE GOES I HOPE I GET IT RIGHT JUST GOT TO WAIT FOR THE RAIN TO STOP AND I AM OF.

  • 6 Sue // Jul 4, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Great information, have harvested lavender from my neighbors yard for 4 years and now have 3 plants of my own, with your information I now know when to harvest to get the max aromatic from the bloom.
    Something keeps drawing me to lavender and each time I see a different type plant I must have it. Thanks again for you website

  • 7 Ann-Marie // Jul 6, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    I’ll feel much more confident when I harvest my lavendar for the first time, thanks to your pictures. The other websites I’v found only DESCRIBE when to harvest – your pictures are worth a thousand words.

  • 8 Steph // Jul 10, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Thanks so much for the photos and info. This is a gem of a resource–having the photos is invaluable.

  • 9 Vicki // Sep 21, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Exactly what I needed to know – a couple months ago when I was making soap. Now I’m set for next year.

  • 10 Lina // Dec 29, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    WOW Lavender wasn’t one of my favourites until I learned about when to cut and dry it. You are exactly correct. Of course it depends where you live. Up here in the north (Canada) it can be around week 8 but the wait is well worth it. I hope that you will test and publish some herb maturity information as I love to use lemon dill, verbena and sage in my soaps. Any ideas?

  • 11 Marie Bukowski // May 26, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks for the pictures. I have two plants and they are just beginning to show their buds.
    Looking forward to the drying stage.

  • 12 lilycobweb // Jun 4, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Yes, this was the very question I needed an answer to! Thank you:)

  • 13 THERESA // Jun 16, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    WHAT A GREAT WEBSITE! THANKS FOR ALL THE TIPS ON LAVENDER, I JUST CUT MINE AND HAVE IT HANGING TO DRY. THANK YOU, THANK YOU

  • 14 Curt in Poway // Jun 29, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Thanks for the visuals – most helpful.

  • 15 Jean // Jun 30, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Ditto to the pix. Bless you for taking the time to share your experiment!

    I’m having “Girl’ sleep-over” this week- and one of our activities will be to make lavender bouquets with the harvest from my purple and someone else’s white lavender (is that an oxymoron??). In years past, when it was time to harvest my plants, my neighbor and I made bouquets (tied with purple satin ribbon) for gifts — hers were “natural” (she just grabbed a bunch and tied) and quick to assemble –mine were more precise (heads organized neatly, with stems blunt-trimmed) and lots more work. I suspect the recipients liked them both just as well. :-) The “pros” who sell commercially hang their bouquets upside down for 1 week in a cool, dry area. I’ve seen bouquets wrapped in small battenburg lace doilies, tied with 2″ satin ribbon beautiful!

    Last year I made Lavender Rice Bags (1 lb rice + 2 cups of lavender buds) for gifts. Works like a heat pad (or to cudedle up with on a cold winter night) microwave the bag for 1 minute on high = a scented heat pad. Inner bag is like a pillow cover, stitched closed to hold the lavender buds. Outer bag is like a pillow case – can be removed and washed. I just used fabrics I had laying around– Most anything works for the outer bag – from sheets to lace (be certain fabric can be microwaved). Use a dense fabric like sheets for the inner bag.

    I also made little gift sachets out of leftover satin– 2″ satin ribbon also works well, but is much more expensive.

    I’ve created a 2″ x 2″ gift card to tie onto the sachets (with fine, glitzy ribbon) – using business card stock folded in half. Front has a nice sketch of lavender – inside it says “Fresh English lavender from Jean’s garden.” All these items make wonderful, personal gifts!

  • 16 Dianne from Northern Michigan // Jul 9, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Thank You for the pictures! My plant(1) is about 6′x5′ and although I have taken stems each year I am never sure when to pick! Your pics are invaluable and will help immensely. Now maybe I can harvest at the right time, which is getting very close.

  • 17 Karen // Jul 13, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Thank you so much for the extremely helpful info. I had never harvested from my field of lavender plants before (16 of them). Now that I have started my small business of doing favors for weddings, showers, etc., I want to harvest the lavender and put them into organza bags and accent with ribbon flowers or pearl sprays. Hopefully I will have customers to enjoy this lovely product I am about to make. The plus side will be that I can market these little sachet bags for almost half the price that I find advertised on other web sites.
    Thank you again for your wonderful and precise description of harvesting the lavender.
    Karen

  • 18 Lisa // Jul 28, 2008 at 3:52 am

    Hi!
    Great site here. I just wanted to throw this out there. A native American friend told me to harvest it during the full moon phase. I don’t know if it works, but thought it might lead to another fun experiment…

  • 19 Lora // Jul 31, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I took an herbal class (http://moonshadowherbs.com/index.html)

    and got to sniff a half acre worth of lavender! Heady stuff. She said to harvest herbs before the plant flowered and flowers before the buds open, for best concentration of essential oils.

  • 20 ann // Aug 12, 2008 at 7:07 am

    i thank you for infomationon lavender it is my favarite it is so fresh breath taking , thank you so much i can now harvest for my draws an wardrobes love it

  • 21 ann // Aug 12, 2008 at 8:00 am

    at this moment in time i am having dinner with my husband who is not with the flower kingdom an denies the smell of flowers but to me they mean everything happiness, death ,living .i can tell which is which an i think lavender is the most soothing fragrance going so if it is surviveing in your garden look after the plant, it will it will bring you tranquil harmony and plenty of restfull sleep at night it has many powers to the mind minor ones of course

  • 22 shelly // Aug 12, 2008 at 10:09 am

    I would like to repeat what the others have said a big “THANK YOU” for the photos , they are very helpful. I just today had my 1st harvest. I have 104 english lavender bushes in my back yard and it was time to get busy, thanks again!!

  • 23 Nancy // Apr 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Once you cut them, how long do you let it dry? And after you dry them do you pick the buds? What’s the process for storing.

    Great site, you have here.

  • 24 Julia // May 10, 2009 at 4:09 am

    Thanks so much for the photos and the descriptions. Great info for this beginner!

  • 25 Rhonnda // May 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I use a small close weave mesh material when I am ready to remove the buds from the stems. Let the stems dry very well and place the stems in the same direction , fold the mesh over the stems amd gently roll the stems around in side the mesh. You may want to wear plastic gloves as the sent will be overwhelming on your hands. Unfold the mesh and all the buds will be off the stems and easy to pick up to fill your sachet bags.

  • 26 katie // Jun 6, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    What type of Lavender is this that you have in the pictures? Do you know if this is the best one for fragrance?

  • 27 christine // Jun 8, 2009 at 5:35 am

    and best of all, deer won’t bother lavender plants!

  • 28 Lorenka // Jun 18, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I was pleasantly surprised to find out the previous owners of my place planted lavender all along the southern perimeter of the house. Thank you so much for this post! That was a thorough experiment. ;) I used your pictures as a guide for harvesting my own lavender yesterday.

  • 29 Ginny // Jun 22, 2009 at 9:10 am

    This is wonderful help, THANK YOU!, and great ideas. My only remaining question is is there a better time of day to pick? or dusk (fewer bees!) (Maybe?).

  • 30 melodie // Jun 29, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    harvest lavender in the morning before the dew rises of the leaves. shape the plant after and as you harvest. you will get a second harvest in fall this way

  • 31 Leah // Jul 1, 2009 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for this information and photos – we harvest lavender at our winery and make gift sachets for the visitors – your photos were wonderfully helpful in determining when to harvest…..and the winemaker loved your study/ pallet cleansing with coffee aspect! – Appreciate you posting!

  • 32 Annisquam Herb Farm // Jul 6, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    Great! Have added a link to your information for my readers!

  • 33 Trixie (Not Work Safe) // Jul 8, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    The question I have is how far back to cut the plant’s stems when harvesting; is it good to shear it back pretty far or not?

  • 34 Patty // Sep 23, 2009 at 1:29 am

    The thing to remember when cutting back lavender is not to cut back into dead wood. Lavender doesn’t rehoot like many others so cut to just abve a leaf or two. Hope that helps

  • 35 Molly @ Star Cottage // May 21, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Thanks so much for the pictures. I learn so much better with great visuals ;) I have over 100 lavender plants lining the walkway to my cottage and I harvested them too early last year. Talk about disapointment!
    Just found your blog googling how to harvest lavender, though you sound familiar & I swear I’ve seen you around the web. The blogging world is so small. I see you like crafts & baking too, My kinda gal. I look forward to poking around your site a little more ;)
    Many Blessings,
    Molly

  • 36 Kate // Jun 16, 2010 at 8:46 am

    This was my first year that my Lavender bloomed. I am so excited! I planted them by seed last year. I am so thankful for your website. As I am litterly a beginner but want to do it right hopefully the first time. Thanks so much. Kate in Vermont. ps. I was told many times you cant grow Lavender in my State of Vermont. Guess they were wrong cause mine are strong n beautiful! Never give up on what you love too do, thats my Motto! :)

  • 37 Lynda // Jun 19, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Thanks so much for this info. I am in the midst of harvesting mine now and am so happy to have a pictorial guide to harvesting. Thanks again.

  • 38 Ann Sillman // Jun 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you for the information and pictures, also the many comments, very helpfull. I think I am in just the correct time to cut my purple lavender and hand it to dry.
    Ann

  • 39 Sharon // Jun 29, 2010 at 6:27 am

    Thank you so much for the info…my first year at harvesting….not sure if I got it at peak…but am told here in Ohio…about the 3rd week of June is the best time. The pictures were so help ful….trust it will be on the net next year so I can compare my flowers. Thanks again…Sharon

  • 40 Susan Forester // Aug 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I am cutting lavender now, it is the middle of August. I fear I am too late. There doesn’t appear to be much fragrance from the stems and heads.

  • 41 Lynne // Aug 20, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Thanks for the photos. It will help me to attend to the lavender cutting before the flowers have to be swept from the path.

    I like to wrap the bunches of stems with cord or fine ribbon, taking the end under the wrapping after three firm turns. If you leave this long enough you can make a loop at the other end of the wrapping, tying both ends together.

    They look lovely hung onto hooks along the beams and there they dry and scent the house too. There is a healing, timeless element to doing this and you still have the flowers to use later.

  • 42 Debbie // Jul 15, 2011 at 6:06 am

    My lavendar plants are in a flower garden and they are so beautiful I hate to cut. If I leave the flowers rather than cutting them, will this cause a issue with the growth and flower production next year?

  • 43 megan // Jul 15, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Debbie – I’m afraid I don’t know!

  • 44 Ellen // Jul 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Debbie, your lavender is probably amazing to watch just blooming, but for the health of the plant, it should be cut back by at least 1/3 every year after it blooms. The plant will last longer and keep a productive shape. If you never trim the plants they will not live as long.

  • 45 Ellen // Jul 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Megan,
    Terrific pictures, you captured the plant in delicious soft color. I am wondering what variety of lavender you have here?

    Thanks!

  • 46 megan // Jul 18, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Ellen – Thanks, this was lavender at a house we were renting at the time so I’m afraid I have no idea which variety it was. We have new plants at our house now and I cannot remember which ones we purchased. Something French I think?

  • 47 Evit // May 20, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for the pictures and info! So I don’t cut it yet..To be honest it never crossed my mind that I have to wait in order to get the best results in smelling buds.

  • 48 Teresa // Jun 13, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Thank you so much! Pictures are worth a thousand words. Now I am confident I will be picking my lavender buds at the right time. MANY THANKS.

  • 49 laurie // Jun 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks! I was researching harvesting and drying and like the others mentioned, your photos were most helpful in determining when I should cut.
    Getting my shears sharpened now in anticipation!

    Thanks:)

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