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Should I prune Lavender

Updated on March 25, 2011

Do I need to prune leggy Lavender

I was walking around a friend’s garden the other day when someone asked me whether they should prune their leggy lavender. The plant had grown quite a lot over the summer, and I agreed that they should.

Lavender is one of those plants that really want to be pruned back a little every winter. By forming a rough bush shape you prevent it getting damaged in the wind, and, of course, it is quite fast growing so will return to a more natural look quickly in the spring.

How to prune the Lavender

By giving them a decent haircut every six months, you will make it look a lot better.

Basically, what I do is get a pair of scissors and cut back the new growth, to make it form a decent bushy shape. I don’t cut back into the old wood. I find that it doesn’t grow well that way. You could even do it with hedge cutters, but I think that the fine control of scissors or sheers is better.

However, Lavenders’ are quite a short lived bush. As they grow older they will get to the point that they become very leggy, and no amount of pruning will stop them showing their middle. Most people think that they will not last longer than ten years. Once they get too old, they become quite ugly.

A guide to pruning Lavender

What if Lavender is too old?

Now, you don’t necessarily need to pay lots of money for a new lavender plant. Lavender is quite easy to propagate. They cope well with softwood cuttings, which you can do in spring or early summer without any difficulty.

Select thin, healthy shoots, cut then around 20 cm and then strip off the lower leaves and pinch out the soft tip. Put them into damp gritty compost, seal the pot in a plastic bag with some elastic bands and put in a heated propagator. Comfortable human room temperature should be enough if you don’t have one.

Make sure you don’t water the compost too often, and take the bag off when the plant has started to grow. You might have to re-pot the lavender if its roots grow too large for the plant.

If you do decide to re-pot the plant, I think a mixture of compost and grit is the best choice. You will want to keep the plant damp but not too wet. It is a Mediterranean plant.

Once you have a thriving bush, you can plant it out. I suggest choosing a well drained spot. In addition, you can add some grit to the soil. Lavender does well in a sunny spot which is sheltered a little from the wind, and isn’t in a frost pocket.

Lavender is one of those shrubs that occasionally dies off because it suffers wind damage, and so keeping a few spare plants is often a good idea anyway.

So that is my guide on how to grow lavender.

You can use Lavender flowers as decoration, to provide a delicious sent in a bathroom, or as natural scent in soaps. In addition, if you brush past the leaves you can get a really nice scent. So they are great at the edge of paths. And they are also a great choice for people who love wildlife – insects really thrive near them.


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  • okmom23 profile image

    Donna Oliver 7 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

    Thank you for sharing the steps to take to to properly propagate lavender, along with pruning technique. I look forward to many new plants!

  • jayjay40 profile image

    jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

    Very useful information, I've always wondered about pruning lavender, now I know. Thanks.