Lavender Harvesting

I often get asked when the best time is to harvest lavender.  The answer really depends on what you want to use it for.  Right now, in the southwest the buds should be about 25%-40% open by now.  Just depending on the variety.  I grow English lavender and the buds are about 35% open right now as a whole.  If the stems themselves have buds that have bloomed at 25%-50% then now is a good time to harvest them, especially if you want to use them for potpourri, sachets or in cooking/baking.  Harvesting them before each of the buds on the stem open will allow the buds to retain their fragrance and color longer.  However, if you want to use the lavender to make essential oil, you should harvest them when almost all, if not all, of the buds on the stem(s) are open.  Also, a lot of it comes down to your own intuition.  If it feels like its ready to be picked, then pick it and use it for your intended purposes. So much about gardening is your relationship with the plants and communicating with them.  If you sit with the plants and listen, your intuition will guide you as to how they need to be tended and when they are ready to be picked.