Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time to Prune the Lavender!

It's that time again...time to prune the lavender! As mentioned many times before, there are two times a year that are appropriate to give your lavender a nice trim- end of October (around Halloween) or middle of February (around Valentines day). So, if you are prepared, now is TIME!

I have extracted a portion of an article written for the 'Virginia Gardener' that clearly outlines the steps to pruning and feeding your beloved lavender plants.

How to Plant and Care for Lavender in the Southeast
by Annie Greer Baggett - posted 04/18/11

Pruning In our region, pruning can happen in a number of ways, and this is good since it is sometimes a challenge to remember what every plant requires in the garden. You may wish to trim the lavender when you cut the blooms to enjoy indoors in June. As you are cutting the blossoms, just give the lavender a good shaping, trimming away stragglers running along the ground and dead limbs. Leave about 1 to 2 inches of foliage all the way around.

I have been taught to prune in late fall as well, and this is fine if you are in tune with your garden and the microclimate of your planting zone. Clearly, when our summers are especially hot and dry, trimming the lavender in late fall can shock the plants, so you will want to wait until late winter, after the garden has experienced regular moisture and is dormant. Around Valentine's Day, or at least in the month of February, after the coldest part of the winter is behind the garden, trim away 1/3 of the foliage. Remember the rule of thumb and leave 1 to 2 inches of foliage all the way around.

It is critical to prune lavender annually to provide the best scenario for a long, happy life in the garden. If the lavender is not trimmed every year, the plant will open up from its center weighed down by the foliage. The heaviness of the branches will cause the main center stem to split and/or break and moisture to enter, resulting in stress and disease, and unfortunately the lavender will not be long for that great compost heap in the sky.

When pruning annually, toss a handful of the bone meal/lime/compost blend around the base of the plant just before rain, or water afterwards. This is the only feeding needed. Remember, that lavender prefers lean soil.

It's just that simple!

The picture above shows a 12 year old lavender plant that has essentially been neglected except for it's annual trim. This grandmother lavender is one of the oldest on our farm. She is happily still going strong!

Are you planning on trimming your lavender in the next few weeks? We would love to see some before and after pictures...

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