On our land grows a wild lavender. It is the lavandula pedunculata, or a lavender Stoechas. Here in the mountains of Andalusia the lavender stoechas or cantueso as it is called here blooms early in the year. While I start to harvest lavandula angustfolia, the stoechas has almost finished flowering. Today I’m going to prune the plant and harvest the flowers. The oil would be good for headaches and colds.
We found the stoechas two years ago between weeds and since then we clean the field. We don’t have to do much else because the stoechas doesn’t make a lot of demands. It sows itself, which we don’t find a problem because the result is there.
Lavender Stoechas, resistant to drought but not to frost
The lavender stoechas is resistant to drought. Only the very young plants we irrigate a few times and after that we don’t irrigate any more. The plant cannot withstand frost, but frost is very rare here.
Prune in time otherwise you will be left with bare stems.
As soon as the stoechas starts to make seed you will notice that all of the plant’s energy goes into it. The leaf at the bottom of the stem falls off. If you want a beautiful plant, it is better to prune it in time. If not, you will get long bald stems. Prune immediately in the first year and after flowering. This week I pruned the plant. It could have been done earlier, but luckily I was still on time. I left a few branches with flowers for the seed.
Lavender stoechas, good for headaches and colds
Just like the lavandula angustfolia, the lavandula stoechas is soothing. And also good for headaches and colds. With the pruning I have harvested flowers. They still smell delicious. A soft scent between lavender and rosemary. I’m going to make essential oil from it and fill an eye pillow with the flowers and see which of the two works best against headaches and colds.
When do you harvest lavender? That depends on what you’re going to do with it. Most lavender oil these days is made of lavandin. That’s a pity because only lavandula angustfolia has the soothing properties for which lavender is so famous. This ‘real’ lavender was already in bloom in May. Halfway June a lot of flowers opened already.
Time to harvest lavender depends on your goal
If you want to harvest lavender for bunches of dried lavender, you’re already too late. Opened flowers fall off the stem while drying. That does not matter if you want loose lavender flowers. This is also the right time to harvest lavender for making lavender oil. A maximum of half of the flowers should be open.
Harvesting real lavender starts in June
The real lavender, lavender angustfolia, blooms earlier than lavandin. At the moment of my first lavender harvest – mid June – the lavandin only begins to form a few colourless flowers.
With some of the flowers already opened I decide to harvest some. My goal is to make essential oil. For a big lavender farmer it is difficult to determine the right moment of harvesting, I suspect.
Even within the same plant the flowers differ from stage to stage
Not all flowers are at the same stage of development. Even within one and the same plant there are flowers that are much further ahead than others. On my small lavender farm it is not (yet) a problem. I harvest the ripe flowers and leave others standing.
Harvesting lavender till October
The advantage of this is that I can enjoy the blossoming lavender for a very long time and that the bees don’t pass by for nothing either. I also suspect that more flowers will come through. Pruning makes them bloom. In any case, I will continue to harvest for a long time. Some species remained in bloom last year until well into October.
What is the best time of day to harvest lavender?
According to Virginia McNaughton’s lavender growers guide, it’s best to harvest early in the morning. When the dew has dried, but before the heat. Harvesting lavender in small production also has an advantage here. In small quantities it is possible to harvest as much as possible in the morning, while large producers have to harvest all day long.
Harvesting just in the morning is fantastic. The sun is low, it’s not warm yet. And the bees, like me, are busy harvesting. The beautiful view and the smell of lavender; these are the best days of the year.
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