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Lavender is guaranteed to grow ‘masses of flowers’ with expert’s one yearly essential task

Pruning lavender can be confusing, especially as there is lots of differing advice available. Luckily, gardening experts have shared when and how to prune lavender for the best possible results.

Morris Hankinson, managing director of Hope Grove Nurseries, shared why lavender plants need to be pruned. He said: “Unless you are going to treat your lavender plants as a short-term project to be replaced in a few years, you will need to prune them so they thrive.

“Unpruned lavender plants can quickly become straggly and leggy, liable to sprawl and open up to reveal unsightly gnarled looking branches that bear few flowers.

“Once this stage is reached they can be very difficult to rejuvenate as they seldom respond to very hard pruning.”

Gardening experts at Sky Nursery agreed, they said: “Pruning is the only regular care most lavenders will need so your lavender doesn’t get too leggy.”

When to prune lavender

According to lavender experts, Nick and Lyndsay Butler, owners of Lavender Fields farm in Hampshire, pruning “must be undertaken every year” and the “best time” is late August or early September, as soon as the plant has flowered. They said: “This ensures it has plenty of time to heal before frosts and winter set in.”

However, any time after a flower spike has completely bloomed out, it can be cut off at the base where the flower stalk meets the body of the plant. This will promote vigorous, healthy growth and keep the plants in good shape.

Additional pruning in early spring may be beneficial if the plant has grown abundantly the summer before. Spanish lavender can be pruned back to half its size if you want to reshape the plant. English and French lavender varieties can be pruned back even harder, to a third of their blooming size. However, spring pruning may delay the plant’s flowering.

Lavender does not shoot readily from old wood, so never prune old, brown, leafless stems – otherwise, the plant will die. Old, neglected plants are best replaced. Annual pruning should help prevent this happening.

What to prune

Now that gardeners know what the need is to prune lavender plants and when it’s about time to get down to pruning, knowing what to prune would be helpful.

Gardeners should be looking out for deadhead flowers, flower heads that have wilted and lost colour, and dead or decaying material to prune.

When first pruning, remove any spindly or crossing branches as this can help it to take shape without branches disrupting its growth habit.

As a general rule of thumb, the harder a plant is pruned, the more aggressive it will grow and vice versa. It’s important to keep mindful of this when trimming plants as it will affect how they grow in the future.

How to prune lavender

Nick and Lyndsay instructed: “If your lavender is established, use your secateurs to prune. Remove the flower stalks and about 2.5cm – or one inch – of the year’s growth, which is the grey-leafed stem. Your aim is to prune to the points just above the wood.

“If you grow French lavender, prune hard to approximately 23cm – or nine inches – after the first flowering then deadhead throughout the season.”

For those who want to keep their lavender “thriving”, the experts said: “Being ruthless with your pruning will pay dividends. In fact, cutting the shoots back by a third, or to around 22cm – or nine inches – into the foliage is ideal to encourage masses of flowers.”

The lavender pros noted that even young varieties need to be pruned. They said: “This slows the growth of the wood at the centre of the plant. However, rather than cutting it, prune it by pinching the tips.”

When pruning lavender, experts at garden retailer Thompson and Morgan urged: “What is critical when pruning, is that you need to cut to just above a group of new shoots. Go any lower and the lavender will die.”

After pruning, gardeners can use the cuttings to grow their own lavender. It’s a great way to replace any lavender hedging or plants that might have done poorly or needed to be removed.


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