How to dry lavender – for a scented, bug-free home

Preserve your beautiful blooms and enjoy your lavender throughout the year.

Lavender is a beautiful aromatic perennial whose delicate flowers and foliage work just as well in the home as in the garden.  

This versatile plant keeps on giving. Not only does dried lavender provide us with a glorious fragrance, but also the preserved flowers can adorn our homes and even have medicinal benefits.

“Its antiseptic, anaesthetic and insect-deterring properties continue to work even when dried,” explains Simon Charlesworth, owner of specialist lavender nursery Downderry Nursery.  

Dried lavender in hessian bag with small bunch to sideCredit: Shutterstock/LN Team

If you grow lavender in your garden or have a friend or family member who is happy for you to make the most of their shrubs, follow our top tips on how to dry lavender.  


Which lavenders are best to dry?

Early flowering dark purple lavender works well

“All lavender is good for drying, but the earlier-flowering darker purples, such as Imperial Gem, are great for colour,” says Charlesworth, “while the later-flowering paler purples, such as Sussex, are best for scent.” 

You can get the best of both worlds with some lavenders, and he recommends Olympia and Anniversary Bouquet if you’re looking for “good colour and scent”. 

Featured product

Olympia ‘Downoly’, 9cm pot, Downderry Nursery

RRP: £3.50

Olympia ‘Downoly’, 9cm pot, Downderry Nursery

When to harvest lavender for drying

Harvest in July or August

The best time to cut lavender depends on what you plan to use it for. Charlesworth suggests cutting it as the first flowers open if you want to dry a bunch to display or flavour food, as “the dry lavender will then remain looking fresh and coloured”. 

“If the dried lavender is to go into bags or sachets as loose grains, then it can be cut when in full flower. There’s more scent in the head at that time,” he adds. 

When should you cut lavender for drying? 

The time of day you cut your lavender can also make a difference. Cutting the lavender around midday rather than first thing gives the shrub time to dry after the morning dew. Dampness from dew is best avoided as it can lead to mould developing during the drying process. 

There are several ways to dry lavender. It is best dried naturally over several weeks. However, if patience isn’t your virtue, lavender can be dried in the oven in a matter of minutes. 

How to dry lavender by hanging it

Gather it into a bouquet for display

  1. Harvest your crop
    “Cut the lavender just above foliage level using secateurs or scissors,” says Charlesworth.  Don’t forget to leave the cutting until around lunchtime, as mentioned above. 
  2. Gather the stems into a bunch
    “If cutting for bunching, put an elastic band around 100-200 stems. As the bunch dries, the stems shrink, so an elastic band ensures it remains intact,” explains Charlesworth. “The flower’s colour will also turn from purple to blue.”  
  3. Hang it up to dry
    “Once cut and banded, hang it upside down in a dry shaded or dark area,” says Charlesworth. But why should the lavender be hung upside down and not simply placed in a vase? “Hanging it upside down stops the flowerheads from dropping before they dry,” he explains. 
  4. Keep it shaded and away from humidity
    For lavender to dry well, it must be stored in an area with low humidity, which is dark and shaded as it is “essential to stop the flower heads fading”.
  5. Leave your lavender to dry
    You can leave your lavender hanging until it is completely dry. This will take about  two to four weeks, depending on the drying environment. 
Credit: Shutterstock/Joanna Stankiewics-Witek

When drying lavender for its flower heads 

If you’re drying lavender for the flower heads rather than the full stems for a bouquet, Charlesworth advises to strip the grains from the flower heads, as it’s a quicker drying method. “Thinly lay the fresh stems on some form of net – a greenhouse shade netting or net curtains – in a dry environment such as a conservatory.” 

Within a week the heads should be dry, and grains should be easily released when lightly rubbed between the hands.  

If the grains are for bags and sachets, they’re ready for use. However, if you’re using them to flavour food, Charlesworth suggests that “some light sieving should remove the chaff”. 

How to dry lavender in an oven

Dry lavender with added heat

Lavender doesn’t need to be dried naturally – instead it can be popped in an oven to speed up the process. Here we take you through the steps on how to dry lavender in an oven. 

  1. Pop your oven on
    Your oven needs to be set to a low heat of 100°C (210°F), or 80°C (175°F) if you have a fan oven.  
  2. Place your lavender in the oven
    Spread a thin layer of lavender onto a baking sheet (it’s best to line it with baking paper to avoid the oil penetrating your tin) and leave it to dry out for 10 minutes. Keep the oven door slightly open to allow the moisture to be released.
  3. Check the lavender
    Remove the lavender and check if it is still moist. If it still needs drying, turn it over and return to the oven for five more minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven 
    When the lavender is dry, remove it from the oven and gently run your fingers through the stalks. The blossoms will disperse and can be stored in a container. 

How long does lavender take to dry?

It depends on your drying method

Drying your lavender upside down will take much longer than popping it in the oven for 10 minutes. After a quick turnaround? Then using an oven is your best bet, but if you have time and patience and two to four weeks to spare, we’d recommend taking the slow route and drying your lavender upside down.   

How lavender scent is released

Oil is released when the plant’s glands are squeezed

The lavender oil is stored in the part of the plant called the calyx it’s where the flower emerges from. Charlesworth explains that the calyces are ribbed vertically and can sometimes be seen with the naked eye, and in between the ribs are thousands of oil glands.

When these calyces or grains, as they’re commonly referred to, are squeezed, the glands are ruptured, releasing the oil. Hence squeezing a lavender bag or bunch once in a while will release the delicate lavender aroma, he says. 

Shortbread biscuits with lavenderCredit: Shutterstock/Sunteya

How to use dried lavender

From moth busting to biscuits

In its simplest form, dried lavender can be used in a bouquet to adorn and fragrance a room. Charlesworth suggests “popping some grains from a dried lavender flower head into potpourri”. 

It can also be used as a moth buster. “Hang a sachet in a wardrobe or a drawer to deter clothes moths,” says Charlesworth, “or sprinkle some grains under sofas and armchairs where carpet moths may lurk.” For maximum scent, squeeze the lavender grains to release it. 

It’s also known for its abilities to ease stress and aid relaxation. Having trouble sleeping? A lavender bag popped under your pillow at night can help ease you into the land of nod.  

And although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, lavender can also be used to flavour food. “It can add a floral note to biscuits, shortbread and scones,” says Charlesworth. “Scent the sugar to be used in the recipe by adding grains to a bag a few weeks before use.” However, he warns: “Use in moderation. A teaspoon is sufficient for a batch!” 

It’s an acquired taste that Charlesworth says he’s yet to develop, but he suggests using dark-purple lavender as it “adds colour and has softer floral and less astringent flavour”. 

Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her


Camilla Sharman is a Staff Writer at Saga Exceptional. Camilla has worked in publishing and marketing for over 30 years and has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  

As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader. 

It was when she started her family that her freelance career evolved. Having moved into a period house two days before her first son was born, she had the perfect opportunity to combine working from home with writing about her own house renovation projects. Apart from appearing on the cover of Your Home magazine, Camilla’s written for Ideal Homes, Real Homes, House Beautiful, and kitchen and bathroom business magazines.  

It was inevitable that her interest in all things homes would lead her to writing home interest features. As a young girl she had the earliest version of Pinterest – a scrap book full of home inspiration images cut from magazines.  

In her spare time, when she’s not in her kitchen experimenting with a new recipe, you’ll find her keeping fit at the gym. In the pool, stretching at a yoga class, or on a spin bike, exercise is her escape time. She also loves the great outdoors and if she’s not pottering about in her garden, she’ll be jumping on her bike for a gentle cycle ride.  

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