How to Dry a Stunning Lavender Bouquet

Bundle of lavender drying upright in its vase
Freshly harvested lavender drying upright in its vase

A bouquet of dried lavender in a vase makes an elegant display for summer and through the winter. But how do you dry it to get the prettiest display?

It’s actually super easy.

There are so many varieties of lavender to choose from, which ones are best for this? And how can you dry them without their flower stem tips wilting over?

Here is my process with my favorite lavender variety. There are other varieties this will work with and I’ll give you them below. But the process is the same.

Harvesting your lavender for vase-worthy dried bundles also maintains your lavender plants to look good for the rest of the summer, allows you to easily cut more flowers through the summer, and shapes your plants for long-term good appearance in your landscape.

Sound good?

My choice lavender

My favorite lavender variety is ‘Grosso’(Link). It has long flower stems and flowers are a rich dark blue. The fragrance is good, too, nice and resiny. But the deep color is what I like.

The plant gets to be 2-2 1/2 ft. tall and wide. And the flower stems reach to 1 1/2 ft. tall. ‘Grosso’s’ flowers are nice additions to fresh bouquets.

You can cut your flowers for fresh use. Once the flowering is mostly over it will be time to harvest for drying.

This usually occurs in July.

Dark blue dried 'Grosso' lavender stem
Dark blue dried 'Grosso' lavender flower stem

Start with the right timing

Wait until the flower stems have bloomed all the way to the tips. This will be an uneven process. Not all the flowers bloom from the bottom to the top. But if the top flower or the flowers right around it have bloomed, they’re ready for harvesting.

If in doubt wait a little bit longer, or test a few flowers. Cut them and put them into a vase with no water. After a day, do they stay upright or does the tip of the stem wilt over? When they stay upright they’re ready. You do have a little bit of a window to harvest them in.

Lavender flower stem with most flowers done blooming, ready for harvest
Lavender flower stem with most flowers done blooming, ready for harvest and drying

Gather and Cut

Gather handfuls of flowers and cut at the base of the stems. Put them into your collection vessel, a bucket or can, with NO water. You don’t need water.

Keep cutting until all the flowers are cut.

First cuts of flower stems
Cut lavender flowers lying on the ground
Lavender stems cut and ready to dry
Most of the lavender stems are cut off, a few remain
Most of the flower stems have been cut off, a few still remain.

Place into display vase

The flower stems are still pliable. So gather the flowers into a display that’s most attractive—meaning shorter ones on the outside and taller stems on the inside.

Then place them into your display vase.

Form here they will dry on their own. That’s it!

Keep the vase out of the way of high traffic and out of the sun. As the flower stems dry they will become more brittle. Bumping into them will cause the flowers to drop off and give you extra cleaning to do. And the sun will fade their color.

Enjoy the fragrance

The lavender fragrance will last only a month or two. Unless you pick up dropped flowers and rub their oils in your hand.

Finish the plants

Before you bring your flowers in, finish up the lavender plant pruning. Since the harvest left a bit of a raggedy surface, take a pair of hand-held hedge shears and lightly trim the surface of the plant. You don’t want to cut back into the wood. Just even out the surface.

Lavender plant all harvested and shaped
Lavender plant after harvest and cleaned up with hedge shears.

Second bloom

Now your plants will grow a second, much lighter, bloom of flowers. These will be easier to cut because you won’t have all the previous flowers in the way. Those would be turning all brown by now if they were left on.

Plus, your lavender plants now look a whole lot prettier than if you hadn’t done this step.

I’ve even had clients say they don’t like lavender plants because they don’t look nice after their bloom. They didn’t know this summer harvest-pruning made all the difference!

Help the pollinators

When do you get your second bloom, you can use them in fresh bouquets again, or if you leave them on you’ll be leaving them for the bees and other pollinators. They need the flowers!

Lavender attracts skippers which are somewhere in between moths and butterflies. They have a furry triangular head with antennae with knobs at the ends. Their wings stay folded up as they feed on lavender flowers. They’re so cute to watch!

Two little skippers on an Echinacea flower
Skippers on Echinacea flowers Credit: Joshua J Cotten via Unsplash

Other varieties

I feel that the intermedia lavenders* are the best for this sort of harvesting and drying. Their stems are longer than other lavender species. ‘Provence’ is a popular variety and I used to grow it a lot. But the color of the dried flowers are too light for my taste. Other varieties are:

  • ‘Seal’—a nice big plant with light flower color
  • ‘Hidcote Giant’—dark, bright purple flowers
  • Impress Purple
  • ‘Phenomenal’
  • ‘Provence’

This year I had to harvest from plants I planted from 4 inch pots this past winter. But last year I harvested from plants that were in the ground for three years. Three years is when their full production starts.

If you can find lavender plants in your nursery now go get them. I suggest you look for ‘Grosso’. Plant them soon to get them growing for a harvest next year!

*These are the Lavender X intermedia species with many varieties. The X means the intermedia is a hybrid species, a cross between English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Portuguese lavender (Lavandula latifolia). In this hybrid species are a lot af varieties

Close-up of dried lavender flowers

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