In general, lavender is considered quite easy to care for plant. However, this does not mean that you can leave the fast-growing plant to itself. First of all, the Mediterranean plant needs regular pruning, otherwise it will become very woody and withered.
Why do you need to cut back lavender?
Botanically, lavender belongs to the group of semi-shrubs. As such, the vigorously growing plant – many lavender varieties can grow up to one meter high and just as wide – tends to become woody from below as it grows older. Where the lavender has already become woody, neither new leaves nor flowers will grow. In gardening parlance, this phenomenon is called “balding.” Lavender bushes, if well cared for, can live at least 10, sometimes even 20 to 30 years – and then, unpruned, look richly bare. Only regular pruning prevents lavender and ensures that it sprouts new shoots and flowers every year.
The right time matters
In general, trees and shrubs are usually pruned in the fall. For the delicate lavender, however, autumn pruning is fatal, as it robs it of the strength to survive the winter. In particular, the withered inflorescences offer the plant some protection from the cold. It is better to cut the lavender in early spring, before the first new shoots appear. As soon as the plant starts to bloom again – which can be the case for the lavender as early as May – it is already too late for a topiary. Ergo, you should cut back your lavender as early as March, or in April at the latest, weather permitting. Optimal is a warmer period without frost, but with plenty of sun.
Cut back faded?
If you cut back the faded inflorescences in July, but no later than early to mid-August, you will encourage your lavender to bloom a second time. However, if possible, do not prune later, otherwise the plant will not be able to mature – and will most likely die in the winter.
Prune lavender properly
When pruning your lavender, be sure to keep the following points in mind:
- Cut with a sharp and clean tool, preferably hedge shears or rose shears.
- Cap the entire bush by at least half.
- However, do not cut into the old wood in any case, otherwise the lavender will not sprout.
- You should also leave a few inches of “green wood” – that is, young shoots – so that the bush can sprout again.
Can woody lavender be rejuvenated?
Rejuvenating heavily woody lavender is a difficult task. In most cases, heavily pruned bushes will not survive such a measure, because lavender very rarely resprouts from the old wood. Also, dividing very old plants is usually not possible due to heavy woodiness. It is better instead to propagate the plant with cuttings and start over. This time, however, you should make sure to do regular topiary.
Tips & Tricks
Lavender can often also be wonderfully grown as a sapling, although regular and correct pruning is all the more important in this case.