Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lavenders - Prune with care-free abandon

Well, not with a weed-whacker or inattentive eyes. But with educated eyes and some trusty clippers.

Most people prune their lavenders wrong. They often cut the flower stem back to where the foliage begins. This works for awhile. However, I found out in the distant past that I ended up with a leggier plant that flopped open from the weight of the blossoms, as is the case with the Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas var. 'Otto Quast'). For other lavender species and cultivars, they just had shorter lives as they became more gangly. Eventually I learned that this sub-shrub needs “severe” pruning. NOT back to so-called “dead wood” as nothing will sprout where there are no leaves.

Yesterday I pruned a large Spanish lavender plant. (The “English” varieties are budding, but not yet blooming.) The photograph of my 15-year-old Spanish lavender shows how dramatically I prune. I prune back to where there is only one- to two-inches of foliage. In the photograph, it shows that I cut the flower stems and the foliage by eight or more inches. I filled a 15-gallon container with the clippings of a single five-foot-wide plant. This more radical pruning keeps the plant more compact and less likely to flop open. And such care means a long, healthy life for each lavender.

Try this style of intensive pruning – but not with totally-free abandonment.

Please post a comment - I want to know what you think.

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NOTE: The comments section at the bottom of the post has disappeared. Click on the "___ Comments" button or the title under the "Blog Archives". Thanks, Robert

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What times of year do you prune the Spanish lavender? Some of our flowers are still beautiful lavender, while some are starting to fade quite a bit. Thank you for your prune with carefree abandon instructions!