It’s lavender season and at this time of year I get many questions from home gardeners wondering how they can use their lavender. I’ll show you 6 ways you can use lavender from your garden.
Types of Lavender
There are two main types of lavender that are grown in home gardens in the US (and farms); Lavandula angustifolia which is often called English lavender and Lavandula x intermedia, often called Lavandin or French lavender. Be careful at the big box stores because they often sell Lavandula stoechas which is not a cold hardy species. It is important to use these Latin or binomial names to make sure we are talking about the same plant. L. angustifolia typically blooms earlier, has a sweeter smell and shorter stems. L. x intermedia blooms after angustifolias, has a slightly more camphorous smell and long stems.
Lavandula angustifolia is used more for rest, anxiety and stress relief. L. intermedia, because of it’s higher camphor content is great for respiratory issues. Within these species are many different cultivars. You may have heard of the intermedia cultivars Grosso or Provence or the angustifolia cultivars Munstead or Hidcote but there are many more.
Lavender comes alive very late in the spring. After it leafs out, it sends up flower stalks with green buds on them. These buds will turn purple, then they flower, then they set seed. There are 3 stages at which we pick lavender. We pick early, purple bud stage and hang those stems upside down to dry. After they are dry we strip the buds from them and use as lavender bud. We cut when they are flowering to use as decorative bouquets. When they are finished blooming we cut for distillation because that is when the most essential oil yields.
Here are ways you can use lavender from your garden;
Cut stems when they are in bud and hang upside down to dry. Rub these buds off the stems when dry and try them in cooking.
Cooking with Lavender
1. Add 1 teaspoon of bud to a sugar cookie recipe. The flavor is very astringent so go easy.
2. Add ½ teaspoon to a cup of black tea for more flavor. You can also try your hand at creating your own tea blends with other herbs and teas.
3. Use lavender in your favorite white bean recipe. Here is a recipe I like but I substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth and lavender for the rosemary. We have found the flavor of a little lavender goes well wherever you might use rosemary.
4. Lavender syrup is easy to make and can be used in a variety of drinks. I like just adding it to soda water. Here is a good recipe to make lavender syrup.
Crafting with Lavender
5. Put some buds in a decorative dish in your bedroom or bathroom to scent the air. Or put buds in a sachet to put in your drawer or pillow case.
6. Cut long stems and make a lavender wand. You can cut this at any stage of growth but use only fresh for these wands so the stems are pliable. Here are some good instructions.
For more lavender recipes see this link to Lavender Wind Farm.
If your lavender is already in full bloom, cut the stems to put in a vase and enjoy in your house. You can also still cook with it at this stage too.
After all your lavender has bloomed you can cut the plant back and shape it into a mound and it will grow back nicely. You may even get a few more blooms this year.
Are you looking for some great lavender skin care products? Take a look at ours here, I love the Lavender Soap.