Plant your lavender from March until late October. (Fall is the best time to plant.)
Once your lavender has bloomed, you may start to harvest when the first bud starts to OPEN. This way, you will capture the best color for drying. You may continue to harvest your lavender until the flowers start to pass because they become more fragrant as they mature.
If you have chosen to harvest the lavender on your plant, then you may trim your plant a bit as you harvest to keep it shapely. If you choose to enjoy your flowers on the plant and not harvest them, then you should trim your lavender back in the fall (mid-October) by a third. Keeping your lavender cut back prevents too much woodiness and encourages new growth.
Plant your lavender in a well-drained location with plenty of sun. You will need to sweeten your soil with lime if it is acidic. Lavender likes a pH of 6-7 and only needs to be watered until it gets established (about two weeks). After that, let Mother Nature take over unless we have severe drought. Keep in mind that if lavender gets over-watered, it can drown, especially if drainage is poor.
Use stones or material that reflects the heat.
Drying Freshly Harvested Lavender
Approximate drying time is 2 weeks.
Remember, there are many varities of lavender and they all differ in some way. Longer stems, plumper buds, different shades of color (lavender, pink and white) their fragrance and flavor will vary as well and they will all dry a little differently.
Do not place in water.
Place your fresh lavender in a container or hang upside down to dry. For better color, you should make sure your bunch has dry air circulation and is not in direct light. Humid air promotes mildew.
Some of your buds will wilt. This is natural. Hanging upside down will help keep stems straight.
A gentle tickling of the buds and stems as they are drying will help keep moisture out.
Your fresh lavender will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. You may lose some of the small buds, but be sure to save them for a sachet or for culinary delights.
As the lavender dries, its flavor and fragrance will increase. To renew scent, just gently pinch the buds.
Use fresh sprigs as garnish for desserts, salads, main dishes of fish, poultry, and red meat, or just about anything you wish! Try floating a sprig in a glass of champagne or white wine. The bouquet is released almost immediately.