All About Lavender
by Sue Adams
How to Grow
- Good drainage is important; plants won’t tolerate standing in wet soil
- Plant in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight)
- Best grown in a raised bed, slope or rock garden
- Prune in the spring or fall after danger of a hard frost, shaping the plant into a mound.
- Take off about 1/3 of the growth. This will encourage new growth and keep your lavender looking good.
- Cut lavender on a dry day, when the flowers are no longer wet with dew.
- Cut when the flower spike is in full color and the first bud is starting to open Color fades as the lavender dries, so the spike will have better color if cut at the bud stage. Blue lavenders hold their colors best when dried.
- For a bouquet or long stems for a craft, cut down to near the bottom of the plant, being careful not to cut
off flower buds that will mature for a later harvest.
- For most culinary purposes, or if you want only the buds, cut down to the first leaf.
Air Drying is Best
- Remove the lower leaves along the bottom inch
or so of the branch.
- Bundle 4-6 branches together and tie into a bunch using string or a rubber band. Leave about 3/4″ between each stem to allow for air circulation.
- Hang upside down (flowers facing downward).
- The bundles will shrink as they dry, so check periodically to make sure that the flowers do not
- To keep the lavender dust-free, punch or cut several holes in a paper bag and place the bundle upside down in the bag; tie the bag closed and then hang.
- Hang the bunches in a warm, dark, dry and well ventilated area (direct sunlight will cause the flowers to fade and will cause essential oils to evaporate).
- Check weekly until the lavender is dried and ready
- Store in airtight containers (zip locking bags, small canning jars).
- Label and date your containers (dried herbs are best used within a year; as they lose their color, they also lose their flavor).
- Herbs retain more flavor if the leaves are stored whole. Crush the leaves when you are ready to use them.
- Discard any leaves that show any sign of mold.
- Place containers in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight, preferably in a cabinet or drawer.
- Herbs left on a kitchen counter can be covered with a paper bag to keep out light.
- Fresh Arrangements
- Skin Care
Essential Oil ~ Concentrated, volatile plant extracts obtained from the lavender flowers, usually by a steam-distillation process. Because of the cost and volume of flowers needed, (500 lbs of flowers are used to produce 1.5 lbs of oil) this is usually done professionally on a large scale.
Herbal Infusions ~ Oil, vinegar, water or alcohol that has been allowed to steep, or infuse, with fresh plant materials.
Traditionally, potpourri is a mixture of dried, fragrant plant material placed in a small container or bowl. You can use almost anything in your garden to make an aromatic potpourri mixture. Choose ingredients for their visual appeal as well as smell. Here are the four basic points of making a potpourri, with examples:
- Aroma ~ Lavender will add a sweet fragrance. Other fragrant flowers that you can add include rose, lemon verbena, mint, lily of the valley, and carnations. Cloves, nutmeg, pieces of orange, lemon or grapefruit rind will add a nice pungent small.
- Texture ~ Adding whole flowers to a mixture of broken pieces, small pine cones or dried berries will contribute to the visual appeal.
- Color ~ Mix color indiscriminately (nature does!) or choose a particular color blend or a blend of opposites form the color wheel (yellow marigolds and purple ageratum, for example).
- Fixatives ~ to help keep the aromas of the potpourri from dissipating too quickly. Here are a few: chopped orris root, cinnamon, whole vanilla beans, cloves or nutmeg, coriander seeds, cumin, the dried leaves of lemon verbena and sweet woodruff, essential oils
- 1 cup dried lavender florets
- Sachet bags (or make your own)
Just fill the bags, and you have a great smelling sachet to place in your closets and drawers!
Cooking with Lavender
A little goes a long way! Start out with a small amount, and add more as you go. Simple rule of thumb when using herbs: one teaspoon of a dried herb is the equivalent of one tablespoon of fresh.
Pack fresh leaves in granulated white sugar in an airtight container. Stir every day to prevent clumping. After the sugar remains dry and loose, remove the leaves before they become crumbly and use the sugar in teas and desserts or make herb candies.
Note: You can sub confectioners sugar for the granulated.
Or you can use an herb bag, like in this recipe:
- 3 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 herb bag filled with 1/4 cup dried lavender buds and leaves
- Scoop 1 cup of the sugar and place in an airtight container
- Insert herb bag. Pour the rest of the sugar over top
- Seal and store.
- Use the flavored sugar in tea or sprinkle on fruits or desserts.
By Herb Club Member Teresa Robinson
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbs fresh lavender flowers or 1 tsp dried
- 3/4 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 cup flour
Mix all ingredients. Brush the bottoms of a Madeline pan with melted butter to prevent sticking.
Fill pan and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Note: You can use mini cup cake pans instead of the Madeline pan. Add 1-2 minutes to