Whether you have an abundance of lavender in your yard or want to make the most of a bouquet, learning how to dry lavender effectively is key to maintaining a fragrant scent for months.
It can also be used to add scents to your upholstery, and with these techniques, you can dry lavender to enhance and prolong its scent. Our experts have explained the four steps to dry these flowers to keep them smelling nice.
How to dry lavender and keep it smelling nice
'It's important to keep in mind that not all lavender plants are created equal. Specifically, some varieties have much stronger scents than others,' explains Ryan Farley, the CEO of LawnStarter. 'For dried lavender, the stronger the scent, the better. Lavandin or English Lavender are good bets here.'
1. Harvest the lavender at the right time
The first step in preserving lavender's fragrance is to ensure you harvest it at the right time.
For best results, harvest your lavender in dry conditions, just as the first flowers are starting to bloom. 'This is when about half the buds on the flower spike are in bloom,' explains Zahid Adnan, founder of The Plant Bible. 'This is when the essential oils are at their peak, imparting that beautiful aroma.'
The ideal time for harvesting lavender is typically in the morning after any dew has dried, but before it gets too hot.
Zahid Adnan is the founder and editor of The Plant Bible, as well as managing a plot of 10-hectare agricultural land. He is also involved in a project to develop sustainable urban farming practices by utilizing farming technologies to increase food production and reduce environmental impacts.
2. Hang your lavender and let it dry
Next, gather a small handful of about ten to fifteen lavender stems. Tie the stems of each pile with yarn, twine, or a rubber band with all the stems facing in the same direction.
'Ensure the bundles are not too large, as proper air circulation is crucial in the drying process,' advises Zahid Adnan.
'Hang the lavender bundles upside down in a cool, dark place. The darkness helps preserve the color, while the cool, dry environment is perfect for drying without losing too much fragrance. Attics, garages, or even a closet work well for this.
'Allow your lavender to air dry for about two to four weeks. Check the bundles periodically to ensure they are drying evenly. The key is to be patient, as rushing the process might lead to loss of fragrance.' Air circulation will limit any mold formation, especially in the first few days.
Zahid Adnan continues, 'While drying, it's important to protect the lavender from dust and debris. You can loosely cover the bundles with a paper bag or a mesh bag to keep them clean.'
3. Remove the buds and store them
'Once your lavender is dry, gently strip the buds from the stems,' says Zahid Adnan. 'This is where the true essence of lavender lies. You can store these buds in an airtight container to keep the fragrance intact until you want to use them.'
Julia Kahlig-Garuba, CEO of Herb & Root advises, 'After the lavender has thoroughly dried, one of my favorite ways to store lavender is in mason jars – it's aesthetic and allows you to locate the dried lavender quickly when you need it.
'For long-term storage of the flowers, you may decide to use anti-humidity packets.' You can use this Dry & Dry rechargeable moisture absorber, from Amazon. You can also keep them in a vacuum-sealed bag, such as this 20-pack, from Amazon.
Keep the lavender buds away from light and heat, since these can cause the scent to diminish over time.
Julia Kahlig-Garuba established Herb & Root in 2013, following a journey to the Middle East during which she explored ancient markets and gained insights into the time-honored art of perfume craftsmanship. Motivated by the documented benefits of fragrance in promoting stress reduction and overall well-being, Julia aspired to craft uncomplicated blends with a rich historical heritage. Although formally trained as an attorney, this venture serves as a platform for her to channel her creativity and storytelling to make a positive impact on others.
4. Enhance the fragrance with preservation techniques
If the scent of your dried lavender is fading or if you simply want to boost its fragrance, you can gently crush the buds to release more fragrance. This is the perfect method when using the lavender in sachets or potpourri.
'To extend the longevity of your lavender's fragrance, consider adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your dried buds before sealing them in an airtight container,' suggests Zahid Adnan. Gently shake the container to mix the oil and buds. The buds will absorb the essential oil's aroma, rejuvenating the fragrance.
You can find lavender essential oil at Walmart.
To enhance the fragrance, place your dried lavender buds in a container with uncooked rice. The rice absorbs excess moisture that could compromise the fragrance, and also takes on the lavender scent, creating fragrant rice that you can use as a natural air freshener or even for cooking.
What conditions should you dry lavender in?
'There is a perfect balance to strike in terms of light and humidity when drying lavender at home. Having too much light will dry out the lavender too quickly, and having too much humidity will lead to it possibly rotting,' says Agatha Isabel at Plant Ma Shop. 'I recommend keeping the area in 30-50% humidity which is not humid but not extremely dry.'
You can also use dried lavender to make fragrant sachets by combining dried lavender buds with rice and sewing them into fabric pouches, or use drawstring bags, such as these Tendwarm bags, from Amazon.
Lavender sachets can be placed under your pillow to help you sleep, in furniture to make them smell nice or in your wardrobes and drawers to repel clothes moths.
You can also put dried lavender bags into clothes drawers to keep them smelling nice. This can be a great idea for out-of-season clothes in storage that won't be used for a while.
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Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past five years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including recipe articles, reviewing products, writing ‘how to’ and ‘when to’ articles. Lola now writes about everything from organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate student, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.
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