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Top Tips for Pruning Lavender in Australia

Lavender is one of those plants I always have growing in the garden. I love the scent as you rub against the foliage and the flowers add a touch of colour.

The main reason I love to grow lavender is that it attracts lots of lovely pollinating bees to my garden. Therefore, it’s a must for me to have some lavender growing near my veggie patch.

Although lavender is a reasonably hardy plant given the right conditions, it does benefit from a couple of regular prunes yearly. 

How does lavender benefit from regular pruning?

Like most plants that we grow, lavender gains a range of benefits from regular pruning. Firstly, it keeps the plant looking healthy and encourages new growth and flowering.

Lavender 2 | Plant care

Regular pruning can also stop your lavender bush from becoming too straggly and woody. Once the plant has become too woody, you’ll notice a decline in leaf growth and flowering. Therefore, it’s important to prevent this from happening as much as you can.

However, it is important not to over-prune your lavender because this can reduce the health of the plant and limit new growth. It can also eventually cause the demise of your plant. Therefore, we need to find a happy balance.

When to prune your lavender

Lavender should be pruned twice a year: once in spring and once in autumn. But, how you prune your lavender during these times will vary because you have to consider the plant’s upcoming growth habit.

How to prune lavender in spring

Try to prune your lavender early in spring as this is the time that the plant will start to put on new growth and produce its flower stems. You only want to give the plant a light prune at this time so that you don’t limit flowering.

What you want to do is just trim off any dead growth that might have appeared over winter. When pruning back any of the green growth, don’t cut it back to bare wood because you’ll find that this will inhibit new growth.

In general, you just want to tip-prune any of the green growth to encourage the plant to become bushier.

How to prune lavender in autumn

Once autumn arrives and your lavender plant has finished flowering, it’s time to snip off all the spent flower heads and trim back any straggly branches that are growing outside the general shape of the plant.

During this pruning, you’re preparing your plant for winter dormancy and keeping it in a nice shape.

Lavender in winter | Plant care

How to prune young lavender plants

If your lavender plant is still quite young, you want to let it establish its root system for the first year without any pruning.

However, to encourage bushy growth, you can just pinch out the tips of any new growth. This will prevent the plant from becoming woody.

How to rejuvenate older plants

Older lavender plants can be rejuvenated by a slightly heavier prune in early spring. You can cut back all of the branches by about one-third. However, once again, don’t cut back to bare wood as you’ll get no new growth from this. 

It’s better to just trim back the branches to a green growth point that is around 5 to 10 cm above the bare wood. By doing this, you’ll stimulate new growth from where you made the cut.

Important tips for pruning lavender

English Lavender Lavandula angustifolia | Plant care

Although lavender is relatively easy to prune and keep neat, there are a few tips that you should consider when it comes to pruning.

Deadheading for a second flush of flowers

Depending on the type of lavender that you’re growing, if you deadhead the spent flowers in summer, you may end up with a second flush of blooms.

You can do this individually with a pair of secateurs or, to save time, you can just use a pair of manual hedge clippers to snip off all the spent flowers from the top.

Not only does this make your lavender bush look neater but it may just encourage the plant to bloom again. Plus, this will give your plant a nice shape.

Avoid pruning lavender after mid-autumn

It’s important not to prune your lavender after around mid-autumn. This is because the pruning may stimulate new growth into winter and this is likely to be quite weak and may die during the colder weather.

Essentially, this will weaken your plants and they may perform poorly in spring and summer.

Only cut the green stems

I can’t stress enough how important it is to only cut back the green stems and not to cut back into bare wood. I’ve made the mistake myself of cutting back a lavender bush too hard and had it decline and eventually die.

So, when you’re hard pruning, follow the green stem down until you can see where the old wood is. Then, look for a set of leaves that is around 10 cm above this point and cut the green stem back to just above this set of leaves.

Of course, you don’t have to cut the stems back this far if the plant is already a nice shape and is not looking too straggly.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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