Archive for May, 2011

Time to Prune Your Lavender

May 5, 2011

Early spring

New growth at the base of a lavender plant

Finally – the topic I am asked the most about. When do I prune my lavender? There are a few times a year you can do it and this is one of them. The other time is after the first bloom. If you live in a climate milder than my zone 5-6, you can probably prune in the fall but if you live where winter is severe, fall pruning is not recommended.

First, you are not going to prune young plants. If you bought them last year and they were in 4” pots, they will not need pruning. Perhaps a little shaping but that is all. I had two lavenders in the garden that looked dead until this morning when I spied some green growth on them. If you have some plants that still look dead, leave them alone for another month.

Second, have a good look at the plant and make sure there is new growth. Ideally you will cut the plant back to 2/3rds of its current size. But you must see fresh growth below the cuts you are making.

L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’
This is a wonderful plant and very winter hardy. It does tend to grow to nearly a foot, (30cm) in height, then branch out and the growth quickly becomes ‘woody’. However, if you look closely, you will often see new green growth coming from the base of the plant and that is not common with all lavender varieties. I have found that every couple of years, my ‘Munstead’ needs to be cut right back to this growth at the ground. This means I am taking off far more than 2/3 of the plant and often removing most of it. Do not do this if you don’t see plenty of new growth.

And that really is all there is to it!

After your lavender flowers, remove the flowers, stalks and a bit of the stem with leaves and shape the plant again. It is very forgiving and as long as you have not removed too much and you make sure there is new green growth below the cut you make, your lavender should keep going.

Why should you prune? Lavender is a shrub. If you do not keep it trimmed it will produce long ‘woody ‘stems. These stems do not always produce new green growth and you can eventually end up with a plant that is all stems and a little green at the top. Pruning regularly will give you a healthier plant that will live in your garden longer.

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