How Should Lavender Be Cut Back?

By Kiersten Rankel

Dec 16, 20237 min read

  1. Prune post-flowering to promote new growth and abundant blooms.
  2. Sterilize shears, prune dry to maintain plant health and shape.
  3. Variety-specific techniques ensure optimal health and flowering for each lavender type.

When and How to Prune Lavender

🌸 When to Prune Lavender

Timing is everything when it comes to pruning lavender. Spring is your starting block, but after flowering is the prime time to get snipping. This usually means late summer to early fall. Prune too late, and Jack Frost might beat you to the punch, harming your plant. If you're dealing with damage or disease, don't hesitate to prune in late winter before the new growth kicks in. Remember, lavender's a forgiving sort, but it prefers a schedule.

πŸ› οΈ How to Prune Lavender

Tools of the Trade

First things first, sterilize your shears. You wouldn't perform surgery with a dirty scalpel, so don't go hacking at your plants with grimy tools. A quick swipe with rubbing alcohol does the trick.

The Pruning Process

  1. Gather a bunch of stems.
  2. Snip 2-3 inches above the woody base, maintaining the plant's iconic mound shape.
  3. Reduce the plant's overall size by one-third. It's like giving your lavender a haircut, but you're aiming for a bob, not a buzz cut.

A Word to the Wise

Prune in the morning when it's dry out. Wet plants are a no-go. They're more prone to disease, and let's face it, nobody likes working in the rain. If you're facing a spring prune, wait for those new leaves to show face, then proceed with caution. Prune too early, and you might as well be pruning with your eyes closed.

Pruning Techniques for Different Lavender Varieties

🌿 English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Timing is everything when it comes to pruning English Lavender. After the first bloom fades, grab your shears. You'll want to cut just below the flower wands, diving into the green foliage beneath, but leave behind about 1 to 2 inches of greenery. Don't go bald; if you strip it down to the wood, you might as well start penning its eulogy. Aim for a mounded shape to keep it looking tight and right. This isn't a one-and-done deal; proper pruning could see your lavender live a ripe old two decades.

🌸 French Lavender (Lavandula dentata)

French Lavender is a bit of a diva with its fancy "ears," requiring a different pruning approach. It's all about encouraging that bushy growth. After it blooms, cut back a third of the current year's growth, ensuring you're not giving it a crew cut down to the wood. It's like giving it a new hairstyle that says, "I'm ready to party," ensuring it'll come back with gusto.

πŸ¦‹ Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas)

Spanish Lavender, or the butterfly magnet, is a prolific bloomer and will keep you on your toes. Once the first flush of flowers is spent, it's time to prune. Cut below the flower wands, well into the green, leaving a couple of inches to avoid the dreaded wood zone. Deadheading is your new hobby; keep at it throughout the season to maintain that lovely rounded dome. With a lifespan of 5 to 10 years, regular trims will keep it from turning into a sprawling mess.

Impact of Pruning on Flowering

πŸ’‡ Flowering Response to Pruning

Pruning isn't just a haircut for your lavender; it's a growth hack. Snip away, and you're essentially whispering to the plant, "Hey, let's focus on the good stuff." This means more flowers and new growth. It's like flipping a switch that tells your lavender to wake up and get blooming.

🌸 Benefits of Pruning for Flowering

Pruning is the secret sauce for a lavender show that keeps on giving. By cutting back, you're not just tidying up; you're setting the stage for a floral encore. Think of it as a performance boost for your plant, ensuring the next act is even more vibrant and abundant than the last.

Pruning for Different Purposes

πŸ’ͺ Pruning for Health

Pruning isn't just about making your lavender look pretty; it's a vital workout for the plant. By snipping away the old, you're basically telling your lavender, "Hey, wake up and grow some new stuff!" This keeps the air flowing through the branches, which is like giving your plant a breath of fresh air. It's crucial because good air circulation means less fungal funk and other nasty diseases.

🎨 Pruning for Aesthetics

Let's face it, a well-pruned lavender is a thing of beauty. It's about controlling the chaos. You want that classic, rounded silhouette, not a wild, sprawling mess. Think of it as giving your plant a haircut to keep it looking sharp. And don't stress about perfection; a little asymmetry adds character. Just remember, shaping is not just for looks; it's about managing growth so your lavender doesn't end up looking like it's been through a hedge backwards.

🌸 Pruning for Harvest

If you're in it for the blooms and that sweet, sweet lavender scent, pruning is your best friend. It's all about timingβ€”prune too late, and you're snipping off this year's flowers; prune too early, and you might as well be giving your plant a buzz cut. The goal is to encourage your lavender to produce more flowers and, consequently, more oil, which is the good stuff. So, get your shears ready right after the first flowering, and go to townβ€”well, not too much, just enough to get those essential oils flowing.

Aftercare and Troubleshooting

🌿 Aftercare Following Pruning

Pruning your lavender is like hitting the refresh buttonβ€”it gives your plant a new lease on life. Post-prune care is crucial to ensure that refresh sticks. Water your lavender to ease the shock and encourage recovery, but don't drench it; these plants are no friends of soggy feet. Hold off on the fertilizer; these guys are tough and thrive in nutrient-poor soil. Instead, monitor for new growth, which is the true sign your lavender is bouncing back.

πŸ›  Troubleshooting Pruning Challenges

Even the greenest thumbs face pruning pitfalls. If you've been a bit scissor-happy and cut into the woody base, don't panicβ€”lavender can be forgiving. Avoid further cuts and wait for new growth, which may take some time. Encountering leggy stems with sparse blooms? Next time, remember to prune earlier in the season and more frequently. If your plant's looking more like a woody skeleton than a lush bush, it might be time to start fresh. Remember, lavender's a survivor, not a divaβ€”it'll bounce back with a bit of patience and the right care.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Pruning lavender is more art than chore, but missteps can lead to a garden eyesore. Here's how to keep your lavender thriving, not just surviving.

🌱 Choosing the Wrong Variety

Selecting a lavender species ill-suited to your climate is like wearing flip-flops in a snowstorm – it just won't work. Lavandins thrive in zones 5-10, but there are other varieties better suited for different climates.

πŸ’§ Overwatering and Overfeeding

Lavender is the camel of the plant world; it doesn't need much to drink. Overwatering can drown its roots, leading to a sad, soggy demise. And like a fast-food diet, overfeeding, especially with nitrogen-rich fertilizers, leads to all leaf and no bloom – a botanical tragedy.

🌞 Planting in the Wrong Spot

Lavender loves the spotlight – full sun, to be exact. Planting it in the shade is like asking a sunflower to grow in a closet. It just won't bloom to its full potential.

🌿 Improper Spacing

Crowding plants is a surefire way to invite fungal gatecrashers. Space is essential; think of it as social distancing for plants. Aim for 3 feet apart in beds or 1 foot for hedges.

βœ‚οΈ Pruning Pitfalls

Pruning lavender without understanding its needs can turn your fragrant shrub into a woody skeleton. It's a haircut for plants; know when to snip and when to stop. Pruning at the wrong time or too aggressively can hinder flowering and lead to a less vigorous plant.

🌱 Ignoring Plant Health

Healthy plants resist diseases like a robust immune system fighting off a cold. Ensure good airflow and avoid waterlogged soil to keep your lavender in fighting form.

Remember, lavender is resilient, but it has its limits. Treat it right, and it'll be the aromatic envy of your garden. Treat it wrong, and well, you'll just be sad. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll be more lavender whisperer than lavender witherer.

Ensure your lavender is cut back correctly 🌿 by using Greg to avoid common pruning mistakes and get timely reminders tailored to your plant's variety for a flourishing and fragrant garden.