Aug 3, 2017

15 Useful Things to Do With Lavender (Plus Growing and Drying Tips)

Growing and Drying LavenderThis spring and summer, I've been having fun seeing what plants the previous owner placed in our garden. I'm especially excited by all the herbs, including quite a bit of oregano and thyme - and a few lavender plants. I've grown all these herbs before, but I've treated lavender mostly as an ornamental. That is, I've never done much with the blooms, except make a few sachets, and (one year) lavender soap.

Lavender makes a gorgeous and prettily scented addition to any garden, and can be either formal (think lavender hedges) or informal (a.k.a. scattered throughout a cottage garden). And the truth is, when you snip off those pretty lavender flowers, you encourage the plant thrive, and urge it to bloom again. Sure, you could just plop the cuttings into a vase and call it good, but why not find some more valuable things to do with them?

With that in mind, here are some ideas I came up with:

1. Cook with it. I admit, I've not tried this, and I do know that cooking with lavender requires a delicate hand. But this lavender cookie recipe looks like a simple place to start. (Here are some expert tips on using lavender as a culinary herb.)

2. Make bath salts. What a terrific gift this would be!

3. Make lavender linen spray. Lavender is such a soothing scent; this would be dreamy.

4. Whip up some lavender mineral water.

5. Stir together some lavender sugar scrub. This would be soothing after a hard day!

It's trendy to cook with lavender. Courtesy
6. Throw it, instead of rice, at a wedding.

7. Create some lavender bath bombs. Hmmm...I see a few Christmas gift ideas here.

8. Make lavender skin oil.

9. Brew some lavender extract, for cooking.

10. Like scented laundry, but not the chemicals that come with it? Try making lavender dryer balls or sachets.

11. Weave some lavender wands...a very traditional craft.

12. Stir together some lavender sugar. This would be tasty with tea...especially Earl Grey!

13. Stir together some lavender body lotion. This could be really relaxing after a long day.

14. Create some lavender vinegar.

15. Craft an old fashioned lavender pomander to keep insects out of closets.
Bees love lavender. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Maja Dumat

BONUS: Tips for Growing Lavender

* Buy a variety that likes your gardening zone.

* Add a bit of bone meal to the soil while planting your lavender.

* Water newly planted lavender well, then let it dry between waterings.

* Lavender grows well in containers, and it likes being a bit root bound - so use a pot that's just a little larger than the plant.

* Cut off blooms just above a double leaf. This encourages new growth and more blooms!

How to Dry Lavender

1. Cut off blooms just above a double leaf. 

2. Use a rubber band to hold a bunch of lavender together. The bunch should be no bigger than, say 1 - 1 1/2 inches fat.

To retain more of lavender's scent and medicinal properties, it's better to hand it to dry in a dark location. Courtesy
3. Hang in a cool, dark location (like a closet...It will make your clothes smell amazing!) until completely dried. 

4. Unless using dried lavender as a flower arrangement, remove the flowers from the stems, place in a glass jar with a tight lid, and store in a cool, dark, location until ready to use.

 Did You Know?

* Lavender is scientifically recognized as a pest repellent, a sleep aid, and a relaxer.

* Some herbalists promote lavender as a treatment for head lice.

* Lavender is antiseptic.

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