The Right Way on How to Prune Lavender and See it Flourish

We all love beautiful, fragrant lavender plants in our gardens. It is also famous in lavender bags and essential oils! Lavender is a very low-maintenance and easy-to-grow plant. However, to make sure that yours is healthy, happy, and looks as good as it smells, you need to prune it annually.

Glass jar of dry lavender flowers on a wooden table

Don’t know how to prune lavender? Don’t worry – we got your back. In this step-by-step guide, we will tell you all you need to know to prune lavender like a professional! You can then use the cut lavender flowers to make flower arrangements, homemade bath bombs, and a lot more! Excited? Let’s get started! 

Why do you need to prune your lavender?

Wondering why you should not let your soothing scented plants with numerous health properties grow the way they want to? Well, by pruning, you are training your plants to withstand more stress and grow strong.

Lavender is a subshrub. This means that it is a plant with soft, green growth on the outside and old, wooden base stems at the centre. One of the reasons for pruning lavender is to slow down the transformation of the green growth into woody stems

This is because lavender wood is not very strong and is prone to splitting due to ice, snow, and rot. The old wood doesn’t rejuvenate and stops producing new shoots. Plus, the shallow roots of lavender are susceptible to early death and rot due to excessive moisture. 

If you don’t prune a lavender, water can get trapped in the weak stems and promote rot, especially in summer. Also, the trapped water will turn into ice when winter sets in and will end up damaging the plant. 

A healthy lavender needs a robust root system. If you prune your plants regularly, it encourages root growth. Plus, pruning will direct nutrients into the new, healthy stems instead of spending them on repairing the old, dying ones. The cherry on the top is that your lavender bushes will look nicely shaped and neat after you prune them!

Lavender in a box

When is the right time?

Before you start pruning, you have to find out which type of lavender you are going to cut. In the case of most lavender varieties, you should prune during early spring or in the fall after harvest. 

It is essential that you prune a couple of months before winter to avoid damage due to snow and frost. Pruning your plants twice a year will give the plant ample time to produce fresh flowers and stay in excellent shape for the next season.

If you prune in early fall or late summer, it will encourage excellent air circulation right before the first frost. This will guard the plant against rot. Springtime pruning delays the pruning for a bit. Moreover, it is an excellent time to cut off the dead stems.

How to prune your lavender step-by-step

What you will need

Do you want to fill your garden and home with beautiful, fragrant lavender blooms? Pruning is the right way to achieve that. And here are the steps:

Hands with gloves pruning lavender with the pruner

1. Deadhead the lavender

Firstly, you need to remove any damaged or dead bits and blooms from the plant. You should do deadheading during the summer. However, this can be done as many times as you need, all year round. 

2. Prune the plant

Take a couple of plant shoots in your hands. Using a sharp pair of shears for pruning, cut back almost two-thirds of the shoot length. Cut some nodes above the wooden base of the bush. However, you should never prune very close to the bottom of the wood, as this causes the nodes to stop growing permanently.

  • Young Lavender Plants

You should begin pruning lavenders when they are young, in their first year. Start by pinching the tips of new, green leaves. This will help the plants to produce dense branches, and the plant will have a good shape and plenty of flowers when it matures. If you wait to prune the new plants, it will be hard to shape the woody growth as nicely.

  • Established Lavender Plants

When it comes to pruning established plants in their second year, you should back all the stems at least one-third of the growth after the plant is finished flowering. Use this opportunity to shape your plants into green, well-formed mounds. 

You can use pruning shears or hand pruners. Even though shears for pruning are slightly less precise than hand pruners, they save a lot of time and help you create and maintain a beautiful lavender hedge. You can use the lavender cuttings to create new plants as well. 

Pruning a young lavender plant

  • Old Lavender Plants

You can heavily prune old, wooden plants; however, don’t cut down right to the leafless wood as you can’t rejuvenate the plants by cutting into the old wood. You should snip right above the last node on the woody part. If you are lucky, the stem will start to regrow and will bloom again.

3. Shape the plant

You should shape the plants into a gumdrop or mounded bun shape. Stop when the plant looks symmetrical. Next season, you will see that the plant has an even amount of shoots and is looking more enchanting and alluring than ever!

4. Position the plant

Did you know that lavenders absolutely love the sun? Make sure that you grow them in a place with full sun. For Spanish or English lavender, you have to take some precautions, especially in cold, winter months. Move them inside your home – if you can – in the winter to protect them from frost. 

Pruning Tools and Extra Tips on Varieties

Before you get started, you need the right tools to get the job done correctly. It is essential that you sharpen the trimmers and shears to ensure that you make clean, quick cuts so that the plant will be able to heal faster.

Clean and sanitize the tools properly to avoid disease and contamination. When you are pruning your plants, make sure that you never cut into the wood part. You should keep the leafless wood intact. If you cut it, you will injure the entire plant. 

As a rule of thumb, always cut about two fingers above the woody part. The woody stems don’t regrow, so avoid cutting them. Moreover, don’t prune lavender in late fall as the new growth will be killed by the winter frost. 

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifoliaMunstead’)

Everyone loves the classic English Hidcote due to its memorable fragrance and silvery foliage and stems. This plant blooms in early summer. You should prune English lavender right after the first flowering. Also, you should prune once more in late August when the plant is not blooming anymore.

Lavender in a wooden basket

English Hybrids (Lavandula x intermedia)

These lavenders have slender, tapering flower heads with long, flowering stems that splay outwards. The right time to prune them is in late August, once they have stopped blooming. Since they are less hardy as compared to English lavenders (which are the hardiest), you should take extra care while pruning them.

Non-English (French lavender, Spanish lavender, Wooly, etc.)

These lavenders have thick, full flower spikes. In warmer zones, they flower in late spring and in colder zones, they bloom at the beginning of summer. With so much variation in size, texture, colour, and fragrance, you will love having them in your garden.

These plants, especially the Lavandula stoechas, need a gentle touch, and you should not cut back lavender very hard. After the first flowers have bloomed and faded in early summer, give them a gentle trim. After that, shape the foliage into a mounded form in late summer.

Lavenders are one of nature’s most colourful, vibrant, and fragrant creations. They will brighten up your living space, and you will love breathing in the fragrant air. Put our pruning tips and tricks to good use so that your lavenders can give you lush, healthy blooms for several years to come!

Happy Gardening, Folks!

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