How to Grow, Dry & Use Lavender for Home & Beauty
I have always dreamed of living on a farm. I grew up in the country smack-dab between two dairy farms.
However, I fell in love with a city boy. We compromised and now live in a small rural town. My only complaint is our small yard on its very steep grade.
We have a larger yard than most in town, but it is a pain to landscape. Weeding is also something that I have little time for with two children at home. Also, being a somewhat experienced gardener I decided to maximize our small yard by including plants that are easy to grow, look lovely, but are also functional.
The first plant that came to mind was lavender. Three years ago I planted four small lavender plants that have now tripled in size! I cut them back twice each year but I find that they produce prolifically and beautifully. They also smell glorious!
However, I often find myself with more lavender than I know what to do with. I use it to freshen my home, as an ingredient in my natural beauty remedies, and as embellishments on gifts. There are really infinite possibilities!
If you want to know how to grow lavender but are worried you don’t have enough space or time, I encourage you! This plant is as easy to grow as it is versatile. Large spaces, small spaces, difficult terrain or even soil – lavender can weather them all. It is definitely worth the investment.
How to Grow Lavender
I find that lavender is most easily grown from already started plants. I chose to buy 6″ pots of English Lavender plants. It likes a sunny spot with well draining soil. If you find that your soil is soggy, add some planter’s sand to help it dry and drain.
Gently break up the roots and place the plant in a small hole, then fill in with soil until you are level with the crown of the plant. Water slightly but do not over-water. As the plant matures (and the roots deepen), it will be more drought resistant, but during its first year make sure it has sufficient water.
My lavender is planted in front of my house where the sun is the hottest. I also have a plant on our sloping hillside that is doing very well. Each year I trim and thin the plant so that oxygen can circulate. I also cut the lavender sprigs/blooms twice a year to encourage growth.
To cut the flowers for drying, simply wait until the buds are about to open. Then cut the stem at its base (you’ll likely see a set of leaves there, cut just above them). The stems may seem long, but by cutting them back you will encourage growth.
How to Dry Lavender
Learning how to dry lavender is very simple! After cutting the lavender stems (just before the buds are about to open), gather a bundle and tie a string tightly around them. I use whatever string I have, from butcher string to ribbon for packages. Some people prefer rubber bands for this, and they can work well also.
Hang lavender bundles upside down in a cool, dry, dark place for about a month (in some cases this can be sooner). You’ll know it’s ready when the buds easily fall from the stems.
How to Infuse Dried Lavender
Of the many lavender uses, this is my favorite one. An infused oil of freshly dried lavender buds smells truly heavenly! Plus it is a great way to use up any extra lavender buds that may have fallen off the stems.
Follow these easy steps to make a lavender infused oil:
- Fill a dark colored bottle ¾ of the way with dried lavender buds. (I use a 4-ounce amber glass bottle.)
- Add enough light oil to cover completely making sure no buds are sticking out. You could choose sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, apricot kernel oil or even fractionated coconut oil. (Find these carrier oils here.)
- Allow to sit in a warm, sunny place for 2-3 weeks. (If your container is clear, you can place it in a brown paper bag to shield it from sunlight.)
- Strain out oil into a clean bottle or jar.
- Use in your favorite DIY recipe or as a lovely massage oil.
I absolutely love this method of infusing the oil because it requires no heat and gives such a beautiful, but light, lavender aroma to the oil. I find that a heat infused oil often has a different aroma than a non-heated infusion.