RELATED: How to prune lemon trees
Why should you prune lavender?
We know lavender for its soothing scent, health benefits, and anti-inflammatory properties. Growing them is relatively easy and maintaining them is a breeze! As long as you keep up with chopping them twice a year, you’ll get long-lasting results with minimal effort.
Pruning trains your plant to withstand more stress and directs nutrients into growing new stems instead of repairing old ones. Not to mention, they keep your bushes looking neat and nicely shaped! But before you make the cut, it’s important to determine which type of lavender you’ll be working with.
Types of lavender
There are many species of lavender, but we’ll be covering two of the most popular varieties grown in Australia. While they may have different blooming times, the techniques for pruning them are the same.
This ‘true lavender’ is the most versatile of them all, able to live for up to 25 years or more if maintained properly. They do very well outdoors and have long, slender blooms that occur late spring to early summer. Light pruning is best after the first harvest, followed by a heavier one during summer or fall.
They are more forgiving when you miss a pruning session and make for great hedges in the yard or garden. This variety is best for essential oils, tea, or potpourri.
French or Spanish lavender blooms mid-spring with the lifespan of three to five years. They have shorter flowers with delicate petals that resemble butterflies. These bloom in summer or fall and regenerate faster than their English counterparts, which means you need to prune them lightly but more frequently.
Although they don’t do well in cold temperatures, they make for perfect decorative plants! You can move them indoors during winter so they don’t wither.
When is the best time to prune?
For most lavender varieties, pruning is best done during spring, summer, or fall after harvest. It’s important to prune a few months before winter sets in to prevent frost and breakage from the snow. Regular pruning twice a year gives your plant time regenerate fresh flowers and stay in good shape for the next season.
- For young plants, allow it to establish roots first, then prune away the new growth during its first year to increase its volume. We discourage young plants from blooming until they reach their second year, making pruning much easier as they get older.
- For middle-aged plants, some heavy pruning is necessary, and you can remove up to one-third of the length. This is also the best time to shape them for increased airflow and even spacing between blossoms.
- For mature plants - Don’t hold back! If you started pruning them early on, they’re ready for a more drastic chop. Heavier pruning wakes up dormant older stems to make them bloom and flower once again.
Gather your pruning tools
Before getting started, you need some tools to get the job done. Sharpening your shears and trimmers will give your plants a clean cut to help them heal faster. To avoid contamination and disease, make sure your tools are clean and sanitised properly in a diluted bleach solution:
- Gardening gloves for sanitation and protection
- Pruning shears for small, singular plants
- Hedge trimmer for bigger, outdoor bushes and hedges
How to prune lavender
If you want to fill your home or garden with beautiful, fragrant blooms, pruning is the best way to achieve that goal. Now it’s time to level up your lavender plant care with these five simple steps!
Do some spring cleaning by removing any dead or damaged bits and blooms from the shrub. You can do this during the summer, but you can also do so as many times as needed throughout the year.
Take a bunch of shoots in your hands, then cut back at least two-thirds of the length with a good pair of pruning shears. Cut a few nodes above the woody base of the bush, but never prune too close to the bottom because they may not grow back.
We recommend shaping your lavender into a mounded bun or gumdrop shape, then stop when it looks symmetrical all around. You’ll notice an even amount of shoots next season, and they’ll look more enchanting than ever!
Lavenders love the sun! So make sure you place them somewhere with lots of sunshine. However, if you’re dealing with English or Spanish lavender, you need to take some precautions for colder climates. You can protect them from frost by moving them to a greenhouse or in your home during winter.
Did you know that you can actually clone your plants? Take cuttings from your pruned plants and use them to propagate more lavender! You can place them in a small pot, then start transplanting them to a soil bed when they get bigger.
There’s nothing lovelier than lavender
Lavender is one of nature’s most vibrant creations and having an abundance of them will add some much-needed colour to your life! Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to put our trimming tips to good use. Just remember to keep your lavenders looking lovely so they can give you lush blooms for many years to come!
RELATED: Pro-tips for pruning fruit trees