When to prune lavender

Bella Hadid plants lavender during coronavirus lockdown

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Lavender is easy to grow, versatile and evergreen, this semi-shrub produces some of the longest-lasting and beautifully scented flowers around. Lavender is the perfect plant for any garden – from cottage gardens to a small pot on a balcony, this hardy shrub will never look out of place even in the most formal of gardens.

This shrub with its beautiful purple flowers originated in the Mediterranean, there are plenty of varieties so make sure you do your research to find the type that suits you.

English lavender is tougher and more long-lived than its French and Spanish cousins so might suit our temperamental English climate better.

It’s also thought to be more attractive to bees than French or Spanish lavender so will help boost pollination for the rest of your garden.

Although this is a hardy plant, pruning is essential to ensure your flowers last.

Why you need to prune lavender

Pruning this woody shrub is essential as although most of this perennial plant appears to be soft and green at its centre it is trying to turn to wood.

Pruning can slow this process down to ensure your lavender lasts for years.

There are three main reasons why you need to slow this process

  • The old wood will stop new growth or will cause the shoots to become spaced out.
  • If your lavender becomes too woody it is likely to weaken the plant as the wood is very weak and often splits under snow, ice and water-rot.
  • Unusually lavender wood does not rejuvenate so if you do not prune this will stunt any future regrowth of your plant.

When to prune lavender

Pruning lavender will ensure that this plant thrives year on year as it will likely refuse to flower next summer if you forget to prune it.

Lavender plants can get a little out of control if you forget to prune them, they get misshapen and the flowers do not bloom and their stalks become long and woody.

As soon as your lavender flowers fade and before the flowers have completely dried out you should prune your plant.

You will need to see some new growth appearing before you prune, but do not leave it too long as the plant will go dormant for winter.

Essentially this means late August or early autumn for most lavenders grown in the UK.

How to prune lavender

To maintain the foliage you need to prune back the flower stalks.

To do this first look for any new growth near the base of your lavender. Cut about 2.5cm or about an inch above this new growth.

This will get rid of any winder damage and also ensure your lavender maintains a uniform shape.

Be warned you should never cut into the bare wood of a lavender plant as this will damage it, this ‘wood’ is the thick stalk from which the flower stems grow.

If you can try to give your lavender a trim during the growing season to stop the stems from becoming too long.

Monty Don recommends on his blog not to cut lavender so hard whilst pruning that there are no green shoots remaining, as lavender cannot regrow from the plant’s woody stems. The gardening expert recommends that you leave a few green shoots to encourage healthy regrowth next year.

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