Best Time to Harvest Lavender
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Sue Mattie
Posted on: August 30, 2005

Just when I thought I knew so much about Lavender I am asking another question of you!

I have been harvesting my Grosso lavender for the last 3 years "just as the buds start to open" (I had read this in at least a couple of books). This year I purposely let a few plants go into full bloom to check the length of the blooming period. After harvesting them last weekend I noticed the intensity of the fragrance of the buds. The buds were grey (not blue as they were a month ago) but the bunches seemed to have more fragrance than those picked last month!

From your experience, for bud purposes, should I be harvesting the Grosso at a later date?

There is no question that oil content changes significantly throughout bud and flower development. In truth there is a range of "best times" for harvesting, depending on several factors, the most important of which is the intended use of the product. For example, if you are planning to use the flowers for dried flower arrangements then it is better to pick at earlier stages so that the integrity of the flower spike and the individual flowers arranged along the spike holds up better. In this case, fragrance, and hence oil content, is sacrificed for flower stalk integrity. If the flowers are for potpourri and you want both colour and fragrance than you may let the buds open a bit more. And if you are growing for oil production you will want the flowers to open a little more so the oil content reaches the highest levels. Weather can influence your decision when to harvest: if, for example, a severe storm is in the forecast you will want to harvest a few days early to avoid losses.

Picking the right time to harvest is something of an art. Guided by your senses and experience, you find the right time for the best results.

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