Sitting on a front porch, strolling through a garden, enjoying a mindful moment, noticing the scent of the flowers and herbs, sun warmed and brought to you on a peaceful breeze is one of lifes great pleasures. Lavender is one of my favorites to grow. It is relatively easy to grow in planting zones 4-9, in your backyard, maybe a container garden on a porch or you can readily find it in greenhouses and herb shops throughout the country or online. There are a plethora of products you can make with lavender. Mid-July, in my growing zone, lavender has reached it’s peak. The backyard is fragrant and the pollinators are busy floating from tiny blossom to tiny blossom. It is great to enjoy on the plant, but that is not the only reason I grow lavender. It is easy to harvest and to preserve by drying making it a great ingredient in so many herbal and aromatherapy crafts.
When harvesting lavender I have always been told to catch the plant in the early morning when the essential oils are still at their peak and not having been depleted by a long day in the sun. Gather a handful of stems in a bunch. Then, cut them 2-4 inches above the woody part of the stems. This will effectively leave the plant intact to regrow as well as give your harvested bunch all the great parts needed for making lavender products. You can continuously harvest lavender as your plant produces flowers. The bunches that you are cutting should all contain blossoms, stems and the leaves.
Once you have made your cuts you can air dry your bunch using string to tie and hang the lavender, blossom side down or you can use the fresh cut herb in different crafts. One of the projects that I like to make with the fresh cut herbs is a fragrant and relaxing lavender water spray. I use this spray to mist our pillows on our beds for the relaxing benefits of lavender and to aid in a restful nights sleep. Lavender water can also be used as a natural soothing toner for the skin that will not clog pores. You can chill this water in the refrigerator and use it help to soothe a sunburn. Plus, it smells nice and can be a great scent to wear in place of heavier perfumes.
The lavender water that I make uses a steeping process much like making teas and tinctures.
What you will need:
- 1 Bunch of Fresh lavender. This will include stems that contain the blossoms, stalks and leaves. Any dead matter cleaned off prior.
- Spring or Distilled water. I fill my 12 cup kettle.
- 1 ounce of Vodka
- Ceramic or non-metallic dish for steeping
- Dish Towel
- Glass Spritzing Bottle or Mason Jar
To begin, I fill my kettle and bring it just to a boil. While the kettle warms, place your lavender in a non-metallic dish, you can chop the stems to make sure they all fit. I use a ceramic baking dish. You want your dish to be large enough to fully immerse the lavender in the water. Once the water has reached a boil, pour it over the lavender being sure that all the lavender is covered in the water. Cover the dish with a towel and let steep until the water has cooled to room temperature. The longer you steep the flowers the stronger your scent. Next, drain the botanical material. Once you have your plant materials out, stir in 1 ounce of vodka to the lavender water to aid with preservation. You can now fill your spritzing container(s). This will keep for a couple weeks. Longer if refrigerated. If you find that you prefer a deeper, more concentrated lavender scent, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your sprays.
One of the beauties of lavender water is that it can be a bit of a gateway to other herbal projects. Lavender pairs well with so many other herbs that you can make floral herbal waters out of lots of combinations. An apothecary of homemade products are just waiting for you to discover and try.