How To Prune Lavender – The Tips You Need For Healthy Plants

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Pruning lavender is essential for maintaining its health and enhancing its appearance. By understanding the importance of pruning, you can promote better growth and abundant flowering in your lavender plants. We will take you through how to prune lavender and make the process as easy to understand as possible.

This article will provide you with the knowledge, techniques, and confidence to successfully prune your lavender plants to remain healthy and vibrant for many years. 

A lovely lavender bush in full bloom in an english garden.
Table of Contents

    Lavender Pruning Key Points:

    • Pruning lavender in early spring or after flowering in late or early summer promotes better growth and abundant flowering.
    • Pruning serves several purposes, including maintaining shape, encouraging new growth, promoting flowering, and preventing diseases.
    • Best practices for pruning lavender include using clean and sharp tools, implementing proper sanitation practices, and pruning gently.
    • Different varieties of lavender require specific pruning techniques, with considerations for English, French, hybrid, and dwarf varieties included in the article below.

    When and Why to Prune Lavender Plants

    Best Time of Year to Prune Lavender

    Knowing the optimal time of year to achieve the best results when pruning lavender is important. The ideal period for pruning lavender is in early spring or after the plant has finished blooming in late or early summer. The plant is actively growing and can recover quickly from pruning during these times.

    Lavender in full bloom with bees in the summer sun.  The image is used to have the reader see what the fruits of their labor can produce.

    Reasons Behind Pruning Lavender

    Pruning lavender serves several purposes that contribute to the overall health and appearance of the plant. By trimming back lavender, you can:

    • Maintain Shape: Regular pruning helps keep your lavender plants compact and bushy, preventing them from becoming leggy or straggly. If you have ever seen those wondrously perfect-shaped hedges of lavender – well, they got that way through dedicated pruning.
    • Encourages New Growth: Pruning stimulates new growth by removing old or dead stems, allowing fresh shoots to flourish.
    • Promotes Flowering: Removing spent flower stalks through pruning encourages your lavender plants to produce more blooms. And who doesn’t want more blooms?
    • Prevent Diseases: Pruning improves air circulation around the plant, reducing humidity levels and minimizing the risk of fungal diseases.

    Remember, each variety of lavender may have slightly different requirements for pruning. It’s essential to research specific guidelines for your particular type of lavender to ensure optimal care.

    Did you know?

    If pruned correctly, hardy types of lavender can live for 15 to 20 years! One plant can provide years of blooms.

    Best Practices for Pruning Lavender

    To ensure successful lavender pruning, you should keep a few essential tips in mind:

    Always Use Clean and Sharp Tools

    Using clean and sharp tools is of utmost importance. Clean, sharp tools help minimize the risk of introducing infections or damaging the entire plant. Before starting, clean your pruning shears or scissors by wiping them with rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant solution, and check them for sharpness. Blunt tools can cause tearing instead of clean cuts, leading to potential harm.

    Implement Proper Sanitation Practices

    Maintaining proper sanitation practices is vital when pruning lavender. Sanitation involves cleaning your tools before and after each use to prevent the spread of diseases between plants. To sanitize, dip your tools into one part bleach and nine parts water, or use rubbing alcohol for disinfection. Doing so reduces the risk of transmitting pathogens from infected plants to healthy ones.

    Prune Gently

    When pruning lavender, it’s important to stay moderate by not cutting back too much foliage at once. Aim to remove only about one-third of the overall plant size during each session of light pruning. Practicing gentle pruning techniques encourages healthy growth and maintains the plant’s natural shape.

    Pruning Techniques for Different Types of Lavender

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    It’s essential to tailor your approach based on your specific variety. Different types of lavender require different pruning methods to ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms. Let’s explore some specific techniques for pruning various lavender varieties.

    English Lavender:

    English lavender, also known as Lavandula angustifolia, is a popular variety known for its aromatic fragrance and beautiful purple flowers. When pruning English lavender:

    1. Timing is key: Prune in early spring as new growth emerges.
    2. Cut back one-third of the plant: Trim back about one-third of the previous year’s growth, focusing on removing dead or damaged stems.
    3. Avoid cutting into woody stems: Be careful not to cut into the woody stems at the base of the plant, as this can hinder future growth.
    Pruning english lavender in early spring. Gardener holds the lavender in hand while sharp pruners do the rest of the work.

    French Lavender:

    French lavender, or Lavandula stoechas, features distinctive “rabbit ear” flower spikes and a more compact growth habit than English lavender. Here’s how to prune French lavender effectively:

    1. Prune after flowering: Wait until after the flowers have faded before pruning.
    2. Trim lightly: Remove spent flower spikes by cutting them back just above a set of leaves.
    3. Avoid cutting into old wood: Like English lavender, avoid cutting into old wood as it may impair regrowth.
    Gardener uses large sharp hedge trimmer to prune french lavender in the fall.  The flowers have completely faded and resemble dry straw.

    Hybrid and Dwarf Varieties:

    Hybrid and dwarf varieties like Lavandula x intermedia or Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ have their own unique characteristics when it comes to pruning:

    1. Light trimming throughout the season: These varieties benefit from light trimming after each bloom cycle to encourage continuous flowering.
    2. Reduce winter damage: In colder climates, consider giving these plants an extra trim in late fall or early winter to reduce potential winter damage.
    Garden path with edging and dwarf lavender borders. The image is used to show what proper pruning can do for shape.

    Remember, regardless of the variety, it’s essential to avoid cutting too far into the woody stems, as this can hinder growth. By following these specific pruning techniques for different types of lavender, you can help your plants thrive and enjoy their delightful blooms year after year.

    Essential Tools and Equipment for Pruning Lavender

    Having the right tools at your disposal is essential to prune lavender effectively. Let’s explore the necessary equipment that will help you achieve optimal results.

    Necessary Tools for Effective Lavender Pruning

    There are a few key tools you’ll need:

    Hand Pruners

    These small, handheld tools are perfect for precision cuts on smaller lavender plants. They allow you to easily trim away dead or overgrown branches without damaging the rest of the plant.

    Hedge shears 

    Hedge shears can be a great option for dealing with larger lavender plants or wanting to shape them into specific forms. They have longer blades that make it easier to trim larger sections of foliage in one go.

    Bypass Loppers

    For thicker branches or stems, loppers come in handy. Their long handles and powerful cutting mechanisms provide the leverage to tackle more substantial pruning tasks.

    Special Considerations: Pruning Lavender In Its First Year

    Pruning lavender in its first year requires special attention. When dealing with newly planted lavenders, it’s crucial to understand that they need time to establish their root systems before focusing on growth above ground. During the first year, avoid heavy pruning as it may hinder the plant’s strong root system’s ability to develop a strong foundation.

    Techniques for Encouraging Healthy Regrowth In One-Year-Old Lavender Plants

    To promote green growth and healthy regrowth after winter dormancy or harsh weather conditions, consider these techniques:

    1. Spring Pruning: Trim any dead or damaged branches in early spring, ensuring not to cut into the woody growth. Spring pruning will stimulate new growth and help maintain a compact shape.
    2. Fall Pruning: Towards the end of autumn, lightly prune your lavender plants by removing spent flower stalks and trimming back long stems. Light fall pruning encourages air circulation and prevents disease while preparing the plant for winter dormancy.
    3. Prune New Leaves Sparingly: Avoid excessive pruning of new leaves during the first year, as it can stress the plant and impede its growth potential.
    4. Remove Woody Growth: If you notice woody growth near the base of your lavender plant, carefully remove it using sharp pruning shears. Removing woody growth in the first year will prevent overcrowding and encourage fresh growth from lower down on the stem.
    Young lavender bush pruned for shape and vigor!
    Young lavender bush pruned for shape and vigor!

    Summary: Mastering the Art of Pruning Lavender

    You have acquired all the necessary knowledge to become a lavender pruning expert. Now that you know the best practices for pruning your lavender bushes, you can tame those shrubs and get your lavender looking its best and thriving for years to come.

    Learn More About Growing Lavender:

    We have several posts to help you grow lovely, fragrant lavender right in your own backyard. To get you started, check out these popular guides:


    How often should I prune my lavender?

    Lavender should be pruned yearly, preferably in early spring or late winter, before new growth appears. This annual pruning will help maintain the plant’s shape and promote healthy regrowth.

    Can I prune my lavender in the fall?

    It is generally not recommended to prune lavender in the early fall. Pruning stimulates new growth, possibly susceptible to frost damage during winter. It’s best to wait until early spring or late winter for pruning.

    What happens if I don’t prune my lavender?

    It will become woody and overgrown if you do not prune your lavender. This can lead to reduced flowering and an overall decline in plant health. Regular pruning helps keep woody lavender more compact, promotes better air circulation, and encourages new growth.

    Can I use regular scissors for pruning my lavender?

    While regular scissors may work for small-scale trimming of individual stems or flowers on your lavender plant, using sharp bypass pruners or shears designed explicitly for gardening tasks is recommended. These tools provide cleaner cuts and are more suitable for larger pruning jobs on lavender wood.

    Can I use the pruned lavender stems for anything?

    Absolutely! Pruned and cut lavender stems can be used in a variety of ways. You can dry them to create fragrant potpourri, use them in floral arrangements, or even make homemade lavender oil. Get creative and enjoy the many uses of your pruned lavender stems.

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