I admit it! For several years now, I’ve pretty much ignored my lavender plant and focused my attention on many other projects. My uninformed assumptions were that “it’s growing well, it flowers beautifully and smells amazing; so I guess we’re all good.” Not so fast, late this summer I noticed thick, brown stems at the base of the plant. So, doing what all constantly learning gardeners do, I researched and found out that pruning is a very big deal with lavender! It needs to be properly pruned yearly to maintain its appearance and avoid large woody stems. Woody stems can split and shorten the life of lavender plants.
First, I did a serious inspection of my sad looking lavender. Check out my video if you want to see inside a woody lavender shrub!
Next, I researched the proper way to prune woody Lavender. Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way can kill the lavender plant. Especially avoid cutting into any woody branches, if you have them.
Here is a brief video about pruning lavender that I found to be very helpful.
As I continue to learn my lesson in lavender care, I tried to find out what variety of lavender I have. Mine is five years old but I couldn’t find any record of it. I “always” keep my plant tags but once again this one was left out. I’m starting to feel sorry for this lavender, so as an apology, it’s going to get a meticulous pruning and a promise not to ignore it again.
Key Points To Know When Pruning Woody Lavender
- Get up close and personal with the lavender plant that needs pruning
- First, look it over closely to observe new growth as well as where to prune woody lavender stems
- Notice the exact point where there are green lavender leaves but there are brown stems just below
- Never cut into a brown branch below the green shoots
- If you’re not sure a stem is alive, lightly scratch the surface and see if its green and alive, or light brown and dead.
- Look for green (living) lavender leaves and cut stem just above those leaves
Introducing Five “Lavender Grosso” To Their New Home
Even though I was not a diligent caretaker, I really have enjoyed the beauty and scent of my old, name unknown, lavender plant. And, it has allowed me to learn how to prune woody lavender. Since my old lavender plant has seen better days, early next spring I will transplant it to the sunny edge of my woodland garden. In the meantime, during fall and winter, the senior lavender will be in good company of five young hybrid lavender relatives along our “deer fence” that has saved so many plants.
Learning About “Lavandin”
Lavendula x intermedia grosso, is the Latin name for my recently purchased Lavender shrubs. Contrary to my prior experience with lavender, I’ve become quite informed regarding this Lavender. Depending on what you want to use your lavender for, its important to understand the differences. Lavendula x intermedia grosso, also called Lavandin, is a hybrid cross between Lavandula anjustifolia (English Lavender) and Lavandula lotifolia (Portuguese Lavender). Some characteristics of Lavendula x intermedia grosso, include:
- Vigorous grower with a very strong fragrance
- Produces large, deep violet flower spikes up to 6 inches long
- Commonly called “Fat Lavender”
- Grows 24′-36″ tall within a tight mound of silver-green foliage
- Thrives in full sun in dry to medium dry, well-drained soils
- Deer and rabbit avoid lavender
- Bees and butterflies love it
- Prune it low in spring once you see new leaves (this is important!)
Let It Grow And Prune Every Spring!
This time, I have carefully filed one of the detailed Lavender plant tags for future reference. I planned for a full bed of Lavender so I’ve relocated my very heavy, concrete planters to allow the Lavender to fill the space. Soon, I will even remove the periwinkle that the birds planted for me. The space is dedicated to Lavender. Yes, I realize it looks a bit lost, but in a year or two it will look like a miniature French countryside!