Lavender (Lavandula), a hardy perennial, grows to a height of 12 to 18 inches, depending on the variety. It produces fragrant spears of tiny lavender blossoms. Harvested lavender will fill a home with a light, subtle fragrance when used as a potpourri, sachet or a dried flower bouquet. Lavender grows well in average, well-drained soil. Avoid growing lavender in moist soil conditions because the plant tends to lack abundant fragrance at harvest. Once established, it offers good drought tolerance. The plant returns year after year, producing blossoms for ongoing harvest. Avoid growing the pink and white flowered lavender for harvest because the flowers turn brown when dried.
Harvest lavender when the flower buds are just beginning to open for the most prominent fragrance. You can also harvest when the flower buds open slightly. The plant is usually ready for harvest in July.
Clip one-third to one-half of the flower stem using a hand-held pruners. Harvest on a dry day when the plant has no frost or water on it. Water on the flower heads and the foliage will cause mildewing during the drying process.
Place a rubber band around the bundle of lavenders stems, 1 to 2 inches from the cut end of the flower stems.
Hang the lavender upside down in a cool, dark room with good ventilation. Place a sheet under the lavender to catch any leaves or flower buds that fall to the floor during the drying process. The fragments of the plant retain their fragrance and you can use them to make sachets.
Cease harvesting lavender three to four weeks before the first fall frost. The plant needs time to recover and build nutrients for the winter.