SPRING 2022 UPDATE: I’m pruning the lavender I planted as 6 inch tall babies. I didn’t prune last fall (2021) since they were still young and healthy. However, this spring, our year and a half old lavender plants will get a healthy pruning of approximately 2/3 of their growth, leaving 1/3 of the healthy lavender to grow, bloom, and be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Then, I will prune them once more this fall, followed by a light “refresh” in spring 2023 in order to make every attempt at keeping the lavender from getting woody. I’m being very specific here because lavender is not like many other plants that are happy to be pruned and grow back even stronger. As Lavender grows it tends to become woody and unattractive at the base of the plant while the top continues to produce leaves and lavender flowers. Read on if you’d like to see just how much damage occurs if lavender is not pruned regularly!
Summer 2021 UPDATE: It has been 10 months since we planted five Lavender Grosso plants in front of our deer fence, and I’m happy to say, they’re looking great! They smell amazing, the flowers are beautiful and the bees love them. To see the bees in action watch this video. I’ve definitely learned my lesson and will diligently prune all five of these Lavender plants low next spring once I see the first new leaves. Lavender rewards you when you take care of it and prune it regularly to avoid woody stems. Continue reading the original post for more detail about maintaining this beautiful, aromatic herb that is perennial in many areas.
Plant Lavender – But Remember To Prune It!
I admit it! For several years now, I’ve pretty much ignored my only 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 But Prune It Regularly!
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!
I love lavender! I have some plants that need serious attention…didn’t know they did until reading this post. Thank you!
I get it! It’s so easy just to enjoy them and keep moving. I plan to be more diligent with these new plants.
I love lavender. Reminds me of medieval times. Looking at all the dead looking brown stems would be tempting to cut all that out. Good thing you researched it first.
Absolutely! One thing I’ve observed while gardening is the limitless depth of design and diverse characteristics that exists in nature. I’m always learning!