Thanks to its compact, lush growth, as well as the numerous, intensely fragrant flowers, lavender is an ornament for many gardens and balconies. However, in order for the plant to look pretty and bloom vigorously even after many years, it must be cut back regularly.
Lavender bushes need to be pruned back vigorously each year to maintain their compact growth and continue to develop fresh shoots and flowers. If, on the other hand, the plants are left to grow unpruned, the lower – older – branches will lignify and the lavender will become bare. In addition, the bushes literally fall apart and lose their beautiful, bushy shape. Already woody branches do not form new shoots of their own accord and thus no new flowers, nor do they sprout as usual after pruning.
Properly rejuvenate lavender
You can only prevent lavender bushes from becoming woody and thus bald by regularly cutting back the plants. This is especially important because old, poorly cared for lavender is very difficult to rejuvenate. Since it is a semi-shrub (and not a perennial, as some people assume), radical pruning will only result in the plant almost certainly dying. Therefore, you should never cut into woody parts, because the shrub will not sprout from them. You can only cut branches that are still soft and hope that the lavender will sprout vigorously again after that.
When pruning woody lavender, proceed as follows:
- Using a sharp, clean tool, cap all soft shoots by about two-thirds.
- Do not cut into the old wood under any circumstances.
- Exception: you must remove diseased or dead branches.
- You can also remove individual branches to give the bush a regular shape.
- The best time for such a topiary is early spring, before the first new shoots develop. You can do a second pruning in the summer, once the lavender has faded. Then cut back the bush by about a third. However, this pruning should be done no later than early/mid-August, otherwise the plant will lack vigor for the winter.
Tips & Tricks
When pruning in spring, make sure to leave a few inches of the shoots, including leaves, from last year. This will make it easier for your lavender to sprout in the new growing season.