Tips for Pruning Lavender
Pruning lavender helps you keep the plant’s proper shape, encourage the right type of growth and get more blooms out of your plants each year. This type of cutting if different than harvesting your lavender’s flower heads for various uses, and it is an important management tool to keep your plants growing to their full harvesting and blooming potential.
Lavender is a very popular type of herb that varies in color, size, fragrance, texture and type of flowers. They are good for cooking, arts, crafts and arrangements. This plant has a wonderful smell that is like nothing else, and dried flower heads of this plant can be used to decorate your home and fill it with lavender’s appeasing odor. They are also useful for attracting wild garden visitors.
Lavender plants grow best from purchased started plants or from the cuttings of other plants. Many varieties do not grow well from seeds and have a low seed germination rate. They can be grown in pots as long as the pots are relative large. Lavender plants enjoy full sunlight and well drained soil that is not soggy. They are also not very good at fighting for nutrients with weeds, so mulch is helpful. They grow well in most planting zones but cannot tolerate frosts.
Pruning lavender plants should be performed every year, immediately after the plant’s bloom to help extend the life of the plant and control its growth patterns. Some gardeners choose to prune their lavender plants when the colors of the flowers dull or change to brown. Pruning is done to encourage a more shrubby style of growth, rather than tall broad growing patterns. Don’t just prune the tops, but be sure to prune around the sides and edges of the entire plant to encourage light reaching the entire plants. When pruning lavender, be sure to cut the flower stem and 1/3rd of the grey-leafed stem as well. Try not to cut into too much of the woody parts of the stem, as this may cause the plant to become too bushy or even die. Cutting 1/3rd of the stem back will help encourage side shoots to grow and may even give you more but smaller flowers later in the season. Some gardeners also recommend using garden loppers or grass shears to prune a lavender bed 1/3rd of the way down and along the sides.
Neglected lavender plants become tall and have an overgrown, wide woody base, but it can be pruned back into a healthy size and shape. This shape and size is not very attractive for the garden, and as the stems grow longer they will have less leaves and will produce less flowers. Pruning the plant changes where it focuses its nutrients on growing. Usually this requires a lot of pruning if the plant has been neglected for a while. To start pruning neglected lavender, find the first healthy growth on each old, woody branch and cut it back to that growth. There will be a lot of branches to work on. This creates more side growth next season. Next season the plant will begin to appear less tall and out of control and more hedge-like in appearance.
Pruning your lavender plants pushes the growth back into the woody parts of the plant, and prevents the plant from growing open and wide branched leafy parts. This creates more growth in a sideways direction and in the center with newer branches, creating an over-all healthier and better blooming plant. A healthy growing lavender plant will provide your garden with that appeasing smell and attractive flowers, and will allow you to harvest your lavender flower heads for any cooking or crafts you may wish to use them for.