I’m a fan of walking in the garden every day, especially in the late afternoon when the sun warms the plants so that all manner of herbal and vegetal smells greets you.
With just the slightest brush of your fingers, the natural oils in the sun-warmed plants perfume your skin.
Nothing says summertime to me quite like the smells of fresh green tomato leaves; warm, spicy thyme; and pungent, floral lavender.
Lavender often gets relegated to the bath or the laundry room, but this wonderfully fragrant flower has many uses beyond soap.
Its mild, floral flavor makes it perfect for baking. And it’s anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties make it a useful plant to have around the house. The color you get when you make lavender simple syrup just begs for it to be made into cocktails or added to whipped cream or icing.
Growing lavender is relatively easy.
It prefers well-drained, sandy soil and lots of sun like the Mediterranean climate where it comes from. You can even grow it in containers indoors.
There are numerous varieties of lavender that produce tight, compact flower buds on long silvery-green stalks. English and French lavender are quite popular and are the most commonly used for scenting things and cooking.
Ideally, you’ll want to have several plants to ensure a decent harvest of this beautiful purple flower. And as you’ll see in our list, lavender is helpful in the garden. And when it’s time to harvest, you can easily dry the lavender to store and use throughout the year.
Of course, knowing how to prune lavender for the best growth is always helpful too.
Let’s look at all the ways you can use lavender in your kitchen, garden, and around your home.
1. Lavender Soap
We’ll start with the obvious one. Fine French-milled lavender soap has been a staple of many a grandmother’s bathrooms for decades. But you don’t have to go to all the trouble of making soap to enjoy a bar of lavender-scented soap with our melt and pour soap guide.
Whether you use the dried flower buds or homemade lavender essential oil, you’ll end up with a wonderfully scented bar of soap.
2. Pest Control in Your Garden
Grow several lavender plants around your garden border or near areas of your yard where deer like to congregate. The strong smell of lavender makes it harder for deer to smell the tasty vegetables they like to nibble in your garden.
Here are ten other ways to keep these pesky four-legged thieves out of your garden.
3. Lavender Sachets for Natural Moth Control
No one likes the smell of mothballs, and they’re toxic if ingested. Of course, no one likes finding tiny moth-chewed holes in their favorite sweater, either.
Fill tiny fabric bags with dried lavender and tuck several in with your fine woolens, hang a few in your closet, and toss a few in your dresser drawers.
The scent of this beautiful flower keeps moths away and keeps your clothes smelling fresh too.
4. Lavender-Infused Massage Oil
Lavender has many health benefits. It’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and its scent is calming, making it a popular choice for aromatherapy.
To make your own lavender-infused massage oil add 3-4 tablespoons of dried lavender buds to 8oz. of a carrier oil such as apricot seed, jojoba, or grapeseed oil in a sterilized jar. Keep in a warm dark place for 4-6 weeks. Give the jar a shake occasionally. Strain the oil into a clean, sterilized jar.
Once it’s finished, you can do so much with it – add this lovely oil to your bath, rub it on an itchy scalp, use it on bug bites, or rub some on your temples to soothe tension headaches.
5. Lavender Essential Oil
Follow this guide to create lavender essential oil at home without the distilling process. All you need are dried lavender buds, some cheap grain alcohol, a mason jar, coffee filters, and some time.
Once you’ve made your lavender oil, you can use it in many of the items on this list, from soap to linen spray.
6. Linen Spray
And speaking of linen spray, lavender is well known for its soothing effect. To send yourself drifting off into dreamland, make this homemade lavender linen spray. Lightly spritz it onto clean pillows and sheets.
Combine in a clean spray bottle:
- 1 cup of distilled water
- 3 tablespoons of vodka
- 10-20 drops of lavender essential oil, based on how strongly scented you want your spray to be.
7. Lavender Bath Salts
If you really want a fantastic night of sleep, mix up a batch of lavender bath salts.
Combine one cup of Epsom salts with ¼ cup of dried lavender buds. Mix well and store in an airtight container like a mason jar. For a restful night of sleep, dissolve a handful of the bath salts into a bath of warm water shortly before bed.
The magnesium in the Epsom salts and the soothing lavender will have you relaxed and ready for bed in no time.
Cooking with Lavender
I was slightly skeptical about eating anything lavender flavored for the longest time. I kept remembering how strongly scented most lavender soaps were. Then I tried a lemon scone with lavender glaze – I was hooked.
When used in the appropriate amount, lavender makes a wonderful addition to many foods and drinks.
8. Lavender Shortbread Cookies
I love a good shortbread cookie, don’t you? They’re the perfect cookie – crispy, sandy, and buttery. They truly are the perfect template to add any number of flavors too.
Dried lavender buds are a fantastic addition to this wonderful cookie. Make a batch for your next tea with friends.
9. Lavender Tea
And speaking of tea, consider brewing up a cup of lavender tea. Pay attention to the brew time to avoid a ‘soapy’ tasting tea.
The resulting cup of tea should be lightly floral, not overpowering. Add a little honey for the perfect summer tea. Lavender tea is also excellent iced too.
Pour one cup of boiling water over one or two teaspoons of dried lavender buds. Let steep for four or five minutes and then strain and serve; if the tea is too strong, steep for a shorter time next time.
10. Lavender-Infused honey
Aside from tasting absolutely wonderful, lavender-infused honey is also a great way to soothe a scratchy throat. Make some honey now, so it’s ready for the flu and cold season.
Be sure to use a dry, sterilized jar. Add in ¼ cup of dried lavender buds. You want to be sure the lavender is completely dry. Any moisture will cause the honey to begin to ferment. Warm one cup of honey and pour it into the jar over the lavender buds. Let the honey infuse in a warm, dark place for several weeks.
Once the honey has infused gently warm the jar of honey and strain out the lavender. Pour the finished lavender-infused honey into another dry, sterilized jar.
11. Lavender Simple Syrup
Lavender simple syrup is one of my favorite mixers for summertime. I add it to iced tea, cocktails (it pairs especially well with gin), and club soda. I even add it to my water kefir.
You can add a teaspoon when making whipped cream for a decadent treat, or mix it in with buttercream frosting. Add a bit to glaze for scones. It’s incredible in Earl Grey tea.
Make it often and keep it in the fridge. I have a feeling once you try it, you’ll be reaching for it all summer long.
12. Lavender Lemonade
If there’s one drink that embodies summer, it has to be lemonade. And lavender takes plain lemonade and turns it into something truly delightful.
Make up a batch of lavender lemonade to drink on a picnic. And don’t forget to add a fresh sprig of lavender for a garnish.
Depending on the type of lavender you use, you can sometimes get a very pale lilac-colored lemonade—what a lovely drink.
With so many fantastic uses for this popular Mediterranean flower, you’ll want to plant several varieties around your home.
Consider putting a pot on a sunny windowsill. And if you can’t grow your own lavender, Starwest Botanicals is a reputable supplier of organic dried herbs and flowers.
This tiny flower can be used in so many wonderful ways. What are you going to make first?