After going through all the effort of harvesting and drying lavender, you will want to make sure to store it properly so your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Improperly stored, dried lavender can lose its scent, flavor, and color and even become moldy. Correctly stored, it can last quite a long time. The following tips outline how to store dried lavender so it can be used for cooking, medicinal use, or crafting.
How to Store Dried Lavender
1. Make sure the lavender is thoroughly dry
Step one in storing dried lavender is to ensure that the lavender is, in fact, completely dry. The stems should be brittle and crack when bent and the leaves should easily crumble. If the stems and leaves simply fold, the lavender needs to continue drying. Any moisture remaining in the plant material can cause the lavender to mold in storage.
2. Store lavender immediately after drying
Once you are satisfied that the lavender is completely dry, take steps to store it as soon as possible. Left out too long, it will begin to collect dust and lose its potency.
3. Remove the buds
Most uses for dried lavender require only the buds. To remove them from the stem, simply rub the flower spikes between your hands over a large, clean bowl. Make sure to remove any errant pieces that you don’t want in with your buds, such as bits of stems, leaves, and other debris.
Strip off any leaves as well to store separately — they can be used in many of the same ways buds can. Similarly, save the stems to use as fragrant fire starters or to chop up in a bowl of potpourri.
If you would like to store whole lavender sprigs, skip this step, and instead pay special attention to tip 8.
While stripping the buds, you might want to save some seeds.
4. Place in airtight containers
Dried lavender should be stored in clean, dry, airtight containers. I recommend using glass jars, which can easily be filled using a funnel. Of course, you can use anything that fits the above guidelines, from ziplock bags to plastic storage totes. Metal tins also work well and have the added bonus of looking nice for gifting or selling.
5. Label the containers
Don’t forget to label the containers! It may seem obvious that the purple buds clearly visible in the glass jar are lavender, but what kind, and when were they packaged? Leaves and stems are also less visibly distinctive. Clearly label each container with the contents and packaging date. Especially if you grow multiple varieties of lavender, you will want to include the name of the cultivar.
6. Store in proper conditions
Store well-labeled airtight containers of dried lavender in a cool, dark, dry location. Sunlight will fade the color from dried lavender, and heat and humidity can degrade the quality and encourage mold growth. A pantry, basement, or closet are all good options for storing dried lavender. You can even slide the containers under a bed if you are pinched for space — just don’t forget they’re under there!
7. Use within one year
Properly stored, dried lavender can last for several years. However, it will begin to degrade and lose its potency over time. A good rule of thumb is to use dried lavender (and other herbs) within one to two years for the best quality. In a pinch, though, older lavender can be refreshed for use in crafting with a few drops of essential oil or by mixing in a bit of newer dried lavender.
8. How to store lavender sprigs
Storing whole sprigs of lavender follows the same general guidelines outlined above but with slightly different methods. First, know that some lavender varieties drop their buds more readily than others, making them better for use as buds and not so great for keeping whole. ‘Provence’ (L. x intermedia), for example, is known for being easy to de-bud, while ‘Royal Velvet’ (L. angustifolia) is a good cultivar for making wreaths.
Loosely pack dried lavender sprigs in a clean, dry, airtight container, working gently to avoid knocking off too many buds. Then label the container and store it in a cool, dry, dark, location. The biggest differences here are that you don’t remove the buds and leaves and you will need a larger container to accommodate the stems and loose packing.
Dried lavender bundles may also be hung in a closet, but they will lose their potency much more quickly, in about six months instead of a year or two.
Whether you dry lavender for use as whole sprigs or buds, take care to store it properly for the highest quality. By following the above tips, you can enjoy your lavender until the next harvest, or even beyond.
Serena Manickam is a freelance editor and writer and sustainable market gardener in rural Virginia. She holds a BA in environmental science and runs Fairydiddle Farm, a small market garden in which she grows no-spray produce and herbs to sell at a local farmer’s market.