After debudding dried lavender, you end up with beautiful, fragrant buds perfect for myriad uses. But you also find yourself left with a pile of lavender stems. The easy response is to throw them on the compost pile, but couldn’t there be another use for them? Yes! Check out the creative ideas below if you wonder what to do with lavender stems.
Some of these ideas require more stems than others, making them better suited to larger lavender operations that produce lots of stems. Others are more time-intensive and might work better on a smaller scale. And nearly all of these ideas can be used on your homestead, as gifts for friends and family, or to sell as part of your lavender business.
Lavender stems offer a variety of uses beyond their pleasant fragrance. Whether you want to add fragrance to your home, create unique crafts and home decor, or explore culinary uses, lavender stems offer an aromatic opportunity to play with.
What to Do with Lavender Stems
While the stems and leaves of dried lavender might seem destined for the compost pile, they also have other uses. The leaves share many properties with the buds and can be used in many of the same ways, especially when appearance is not significant. Using the stems takes a bit more creativity, but we have plenty of ideas to get you started!
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1. Fragrant fire starters
One popular idea among people growing lavender for profit is to create simple fire starters from lavender stems. To make these little scented kindling bundles, just tie a handful of lavender stems with jute twine. Include a paper label with details and instructions for use. Then the entire bundle, label and all, can be thrown into the fire! Not only are these easy value-added items to sell, but they also make great gifts.
2. Pretty lavender potpourri
I think the prettiest potpourri has a mixture of textures and colors. Chopped lavender stems may not be very attractive on their own, but in a mix of other aromatic dried flowers, they add a lovely lavender scent and some nice green texture. Chopped stems can also be added to sachets, but you might not want to put them in things like eye pillows due to their sharp, pokey nature. And, of course, you can put your potpourri in a lavender stem basket, too!
3. Simple wreath frames
Just as whole lavender can be made into wreaths, lavender stems can be used to create wreath frames. These act as a sort of blank canvas for decorating, like a plain twig wreath. To make the dried stems flexible again, steam them, then bend small, overlapping bunches into a circle, securing them with string as you go. You should end up with a relatively smooth ring. You can also leave the ends of some of the bunches sticking out to make the wreath more decorative.
If crafting isn’t your thing, but you like the idea of wreaths, try putting together wreath kits. Include the proper amount of stems and string for one or two wreaths per kit and instructions for making the wreath.
4. Aromatic animal bedding
Add lavender stems, whole or chopped (a wood chipper is excellent for this: here’s an inexpensive one!), to animal bedding. The lavender stems will help mask unpleasant odors and deter flies and other insect pests. This works exceptionally well for chicken coops, though some people have added lavender stems to bedding for other animals. Ensure that lavender is not toxic to the animals you want to use it for, if they decide to nibble at it.
5. Smoker fuel for beekeeping
If you or a neighbor keeps bees, lavender stems can be used as smoker fuel. It may or may not make a difference to the bees, but the smell will undoubtedly be more pleasant for the beekeeper! Remember that lavender burns quickly (hence its widespread use as a fire starter), so you might want to use a mixture of lavender stems with wood chips, such as from fruit tree prunings, or your other favorite smoker fuel.
6. Pest-deterring mulch
If you have a lot of lavender stems, they can be used as mulch around other plants. Not only will this lavender-stem mulch prevent erosion, reduce weed pressure, and help with moisture retention, but it can also deter pests. Some growers like to use it around berry plants to mask the scent of the berries from rabbits and other pests, while others mulch their garden fence line with lavender stems to keep the fence line clean.
7. Coil baskets
Feeling extra creative? Weave a basket with lavender stems! A small bowl shape would be great for holding potpourri, as it will contribute to the pleasing aroma. Any size or shape works well for gifting or selling, but you will likely have the best luck making a coil basket as you would with pine needles. There are tutorials available on YouTube if you would like to try your hand at lavender stem baskets. Here’s one example:
Like the wreaths, this is another good candidate for DIY kits. Or, if you perfect your lavender stem basket-making technique, you could host basket-weaving workshops.
If that is your preference, there is absolutely nothing wrong with composting lavender stems. Instead of taking the time to turn them into another product, you can always let Mother Nature turn them into beautiful, dark, crumbly compost to feed other plants with.
Large piles of lavender stems by themselves likely won’t break down any time soon, so remember the general composting rule of two to three times as much carbon-rich (brown) material as nitrogen-rich (green) material. I would consider dried lavender stems to be carbon-rich. Chopping them into smaller pieces will also help the stems break down faster.
Here are a few more ideas to try:
- make dried lavender incense sticks
- turn them into lavender wands
- chop them up and add them to your lavender sachets
- use them in your craft projects (decorate candles, grind them into lavender dust, etc.)
- make dried lavender bouquets or use them in flower arrangements
- create lavender products (soothing bath salts, calming lavender tea, lavender honey, lavender tea bags, lavender soaps, eye pillows, and more)
- use them as a drink stirrer
- make DIY lavender linen spray or lavender water
- use them for lavender simple syrup
Love Lavender? Check Out These Guides
- lavender flower colors
- culinary lavender
- how to properly store lavender flowers and buds
- how to grow lavender from cuttings
- French lavender care
- plant a lavender garden
- tips for harvesting lavender
- how to make lavender oil
So, now that you have all of these creative ideas rolling around in your head, what will you do with your leftover lavender stems? Suddenly, this byproduct has become a pile of possibilities.
Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check your her books below: