Monday, October 5, 2009

Lavender Butcher?

I’m trying another bold experiment. Radical pruning of aging lavenders. I tried this two years ago and it worked. However, this plant (Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’) is much bigger.

I was consumed by finishing my drip irrigation book (Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates, revised 2009.) and traveling back-and-forth to St. Louis to help my Dad and greatly neglected my lavender plantings. They got heavy with bloom on long stems. They sort of flopped open a bit. This allowed the sun to cause tiny buds to grow far down into the plant. On stems many might call “dead” wood. (See the photo on the left after removing most of the foliage.) But far down the stems the unpruned plant sprouted many very tiny buds, as seen on the other two photos.

These tiny buds grew on a small plant I pruned this way two years ago and nobody suspects it use to look like the photo on the left.

So, the guy who wrote the lavender book (The Lavender Garden, Chronicle Books, 1998) is disobeying his own guidelines about leaving three to five healthy buds just above the mature leaves. Ha. It’s never too late to experiment.

We had a week of 90-100F days after this pruning experiment. So, I don’t know how the lavender will react. But it does look well right now. I’ll keep you posted on another blog.

(PLEASE, don’t do this in cold-weather climates. It’ll probably kill the poor plant. Just for us west-coast gardeners near the ocean to try.)

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

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1 comment:

Janis said...

Did same to other Lamiaceae (Leonotis leonuris and Salvia leucantha) in Sunset zone 18 with success, but waited until February. Have also treated same salvia plus Lavendula dentata to this severe surgery at indiscriminate times of year in a friend's oft overgrown garden in zone 24 (inland side of PV Peninsula.) Certainly worth the experimentation for older or crowded plants!