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My Spring And Fall Lavender Pruning Guide for Lush Blooms

To keep your lavender looking more like a dreamy cloud and less like a woody nightmare, you’ve gotta get snippy with it.

Yep, pruning isn’t just for the overly enthusiastic gardener; it’s a must to keep your lavender happy, healthy, and, frankly, alive.

Pruning in the fall or spring can feel like a high-stakes game of botanical surgery, but fear not!

Whether you’re eyeing your shears with suspicion as the leaves start to fall or wondering if a spring snip-snip is the way to go, I’ve got your back.

With a bit of know-how, you can turn pruning from a chore into a seasonal ritual that ensures your lavender thrives.

Importance of Seasonal Pruning for Lavender

Let me guide you through the nuances of pruning in spring and fall, highlighting why each season plays a pivotal role in your plant’s lifecycle.

lavender plants

The Role of Spring Pruning

Spring is all about renewal, and for lavender, it’s no different. Coming off the back of winter, my lavender plants often look a bit ragged and in dire need of attention.

Spring pruning, typically done from March to May, is about setting the stage for the growing season ahead.

By removing any dead or damaged branches down to the base, I ensure that the plant’s energy is directed towards fostering new, healthy growth.

This early in the year, I’m careful not to cut into the old wood, as lavender doesn’t regenerate from these parts.

I aim to cut back last year’s growth, leaving about one-third of the greenery intact.

This encourages the plant to produce a flush of fresh, fragrant stems and prevents it from becoming too woody and sparse.

Additionally, a well-timed spring prune helps define the plant’s shape, setting it up for a robust display of blooms in the summer.

The Significance of Fall Pruning

As autumn rolls in, it’s time for another critical pruning session. After the lavender has bloomed and the flowers have faded, I grab my secateurs for a post-flowering trim.

Cutting the stems back by about one-third does more than just tidy up the plant; it prepares lavender for the colder months ahead.

Fall pruning isn’t about drastic size reduction but maintaining the plant’s structure and preventing it from becoming leggy and overgrown.

By reshaping the lavender into a neat, gumdrop shape, I ensure that it’s not only aesthetically pleasing but also better equipped to withstand winter’s harshness.

Moreover, light pruning in the fall can stimulate another round of growth before the plant goes dormant.

This isn’t about encouraging flowering, but rather ensuring the lavender enters winter in a stronger state.

I’ve found that this approach keeps my lavender looking fuller and more vibrant come spring, proving that a little effort in the fall pays off in the long run.

Essential Tools for Pruning Lavender

I’ve found that having the proper equipment can make the difference between a thriving plant and one that struggles. Here’s my go-to list for getting the job done efficiently and effectively.

Hand Pruners

You can’t go about pruning lavender without a good pair of hand pruners.

I prefer those with bypass blades because they make clean cuts without harming the plant.

A sharp pair ensures you’re not tearing the stems, which can lead to disease.

Garden Scissors

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For the finer, more precise cuts, particularly when shaping the lavender in spring or snipping off the occasional wayward branch, garden scissors are my tool of choice.

They’re incredibly handy for getting into tight spaces between branches.

Pruning Saw

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Sometimes, you encounter older, woodier parts of the lavender that hand pruners just can’t handle.

That’s where a pruning saw comes in.

It’s perfect for cutting through thick, woody stems without damaging the healthier parts of the plant.


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Never underestimate the value of a good pair of gloves.

Lavender can be surprisingly tough on the hands, especially when dealing with older, woodier stalks.

Gloves protect your hands from scratches and ensure a comfortable pruning experience.

Cleaning Supplies

Keeping your tools clean is key. I always have some rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution on hand to disinfect my tools between cuts.

This step prevents the spread of disease and keeps my lavender healthy.

Armed with these tools, I’m ready to tackle pruning in both spring and fall, ensuring my lavender bushes remain vibrant and well-shaped.

Steps to Prune Lavender in Spring

I’ve learned through years of tending to my own garden that proper pruning techniques in spring can vastly improve the health and appearance of lavender plants.

Cutting Back New Plantings

For those new lavender plantings, spring pruning isn’t merely a suggestion—it’s essential.

When I first start with young lavender plants, I focus on cutting back new growth to encourage a robust, bushy form.

After planting, once new shoots begin to appear, I lightly prune the tips of this new growth.

This method encourages the lavender to branch out, preventing legginess and promoting a denser, more attractive shape.

It might seem counterintuitive to cut back a plant you’re eager to see grow, but trust me, this step lays the groundwork for a thriving bush.

The trick here is not to cut back into the old wood, as lavender can struggle to regenerate from these parts.

Just a light trim on the new shoots will do the trick, setting your plant up for success.

Shaping Mature Lavender

As for mature lavender, spring brings the opportunity to shape these established plants before the growing season kicks into full gear.

I’ve found that giving them a good shaping not only maintains their appearance but also encourages healthy new growth.

Once the threat of frost has passed, I assess my mature lavender plants and determine how much shaping they’ll need.

This usually involves cutting back the top third of the plant, focusing on removing any dead or old growth that’s not thriving.

I aim to give my lavender a slightly rounded, gumdrop shape, which seems to be the most beneficial for promoting good air circulation and sunlight penetration throughout the plant.

It’s important not to prune too early, as frost can damage new growth, but timing this right results in a plant that’s ready to burst into bloom when summer arrives.

lavender plant in pot

Pruning Lavender in Fall

Fall pruning isn’t just about maintaining the plant’s appearance; it’s essential for ensuring your lavender can weather the winter and thrive in the coming year. Let’s dive into how I get my lavender ready for the colder months and make sure it comes back as beautiful as ever in the spring.

Preparation for Winter

After a season of growth, your lavender’s going to need a bit of TLC to make sure it’s primed for winter survival.

I always start by checking the forecast to make sure I’m pruning at least 6 weeks before the first frost is expected.

This timing is key because it gives the plant enough time to heal those fresh cuts before the cold sets in.

I grab my hand pruners and gloves and set out to give my lavender a good trim.

The goal here is to cut back about a third of the current year’s growth.

This might seem like a lot, but trust me, it’s what helps your lavender to focus on root development over the winter, making for a stronger plant in the spring.

Another trick I’ve found useful is to shape the plant into a nice, neat mound.

This isn’t just for looks; a mounded shape helps to shed water away from the base of the plant, reducing the risk of rot in the wetter, colder months.

Plus, it ensures the plant has a uniform start to regrowth when warmer weather rolls back around.

Preventing Woody Stems

No one wants a lavender plant that’s all wood and no bloom. The key to preventing woody stems starts with your fall pruning routine.

If you let lavender go unpruned, it gets leggy, and the base thickens into woody stems that won’t produce those beloved blooms.

To combat this, I make it a point to trim not just the current year’s growth but also to lightly shape the older wood, encouraging the plant to produce new shoots from the base.

While it’s tempting to prune aggressively to avoid woodiness, remember never to cut into the old wood that shows no signs of green.

Lavender doesn’t regenerate from old, dead wood, so cutting too far back could harm or even kill your plant.

Caring for Different Types of Lavender

Lavender’s got variety, each with its own pruning needs. You gotta treat each type right, ensuring they flourish in your garden.

English Lavender Pruning Techniques

I’ve found English Lavender, varieties like ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’, to be pretty hardy.

They’re the type you imagine when you think of lavender fields in Provence—though ironically, they’re called English.

When spring rolls around, these guys benefit from a light trim, just enough to shape them and encourage new growth.

But, here’s the kicker: come fall, it’s time to get a bit more aggressive.

I used to be hesitant, trimming them ever so lightly, but that approach did my bushes no favors.

They ended up leggy and less vigorous.

Now, I cut them back by about a third of the new growth after the blooms have faded, but never into the old wood.

Lavender doesn’t play well with being cut back to the wood—it won’t regenerate from there.

The key is finding that sweet spot of cutting back enough to prevent the plant from becoming woody and sparse, but not so much that you harm the plant.

It’s a balance, but when you get it right, your English Lavender will thank you with lush, vibrant growth and blooms that are out of this world.

Pruning Spanish and French Lavender Varieties

Spanish and French lavenders, with their distinctive top blooms, are a bit more high maintenance.

They’re less hardy than their English counterparts, which means they need a tad more TLC, especially when it comes to pruning. For these varieties, timing and technique matter even more.

In my experience, pruning these types in spring, right after the first flush of blooms starts to fade, sets them up for success.

It encourages a second bloom and keeps the plant compact and tidy. I snip off the spent flower stalks and shape the plant, taking care not to cut into the old wood here either.

Then, as fall approaches, I give them another light trim. It’s more about shaping and preparing them for winter, rather than encouraging growth.

Spanish and French lavenders don’t bounce back as heartily from aggressive fall pruning, so I keep it minimal.

In regions where winters are mild, this light fall pruning could be all they need to survive and thrive through the colder months.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pruning Lavender

Here’s a breakdown of what not to do when you’re standing shears in hand, ready to give your lavender plants their seasonal trim.

Cutting Back Too Late in the Season

I’ve learned that timing is everything. Pruning lavender too late in the fall can be a critical mistake.

New growth encouraged by late pruning won’t harden off in time for winter, leaving the plants vulnerable.

Aim to complete your fall pruning at least a couple of months before the first expected frost.

Venturing into Old Wood

Here’s a no-go that I’ve mentioned: never cut into the old wood.

Lavender won’t regenerate from this point, which means if you cut back too far and hit the woody base, that part of your plant might as well be a goner.

Always leave a few inches of greenery to ensure it can bounce back.

Overlooking Shape and Size

Another pitfall to avoid is neglecting the overall shape and health of your lavender plant.

Pruning isn’t just about cutting back; it’s about maintaining a desirable and manageable shape.

For plants like ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’, I’ve found that a dome shape not only looks neat but also supports even growth and bloom.

Forgoing Spring Cleanup

Spring pruning seems light compared to the more aggressive fall chop, but it’s just as key.

Skipping the spring cleanup can lead to a less vigorous bloom and an overgrown appearance by summer’s end.

I always make sure to remove any dead or damaged parts and shape the plant lightly to promote healthy new growth.

By steering clear of these common missteps, I’ve seen my lavender thrive, offering up those iconic blooms and scents season after season.