by Pam Baker, Little Lavender Farm
When should I harvest my lavender?
This is a question I often get asked, and it really depends on what you want to do with the lavender you are harvesting.
If you are harvesting for culinary uses, you should first of all only harvest L. angustifolia flowers (also known as English lavender or “true” lavender) and harvest it when just 2-3 buds have flowered. The reason behind this is that once the lavender dries, you won’t want the spent flowers in with the buds. One or two in there is fine, but more than that and it just looks unsightly. (Note added by editor: there is another variety, Lavandula x-intermedia var. “Provence”, that can also be used for culinary purposes.)
If you are harvesting for fresh or dried bouquets, again, cut when just a few flowers have opened. The buds will stay on the stem better if they haven’t yet flowered and there will be less shedding.
If you are harvesting to make essential oil, harvest when about half of the flowers on the spike have withered
If you are harvesting for sachets or potpourii, you can harvest when buds are about ?-½ open.
Below you can see the difference between lavender that isn’t quite ready for harvest (first photo) and lavender that is ready to harvest.
You can see the corollas starting to show in the next picture. This photo illustrates lavender that can be cut for dried bouquets since just a few flowers have opened.