Even though it is still stubbornly raining and the fire on our lovely Jersey lavender farm is still being regularly lit, clumps of snowdrops are beginning to speckle the verges and we’ve even seen a few daffodils. So yes, even though it might not quite feel like it yet, spring is on its way. And along with the arrival of spring there also comes those first annual gardening jobs. Spring is the time to tidy and weed your borders, give your sad lawn a feed and tie trees, such as conifers, that have been spread by snow. But is spring the time to prune your lavender?
This is a question that we regularly get asked, as many gardening books and online resources will give you differing answers; some say prune in spring, some say prune in autumn and some say dead-head throughout the year. So what should you do? The answer actually depends on the type of lavender that you have.
Lavender Angustifolia and Lavender Intermedia
These hardy varieties should be pruned just after flowering, in late summer or early autumn. This is the time when we harvest our lovely lavendula angustifolia plants ready to dry the lavender buds or distil our amazing velvety lavender essential oil. You can cut back these varieties of lavender quite hard, taking out at least two thirds of the new growth, just making sure that you leave some small shoots of that year’s growth below where you cut. If you cut it back too hard you will find that lavender is unable to sprout from old wood and you will have to remove and discard the plant. If pruned correctly though you will find that by mid to late autumn you will have a neat mound of new foliage on the plant ready to flower next year. Or if you are really lucky you might even get a second autumn flowering.
These varieties of lavender should be pruned in early summer after their first flowering and then simply dead-headed throughout the rest of the summer. If treated correctly, these varieties of lavender will give you at least two flowerings each year. However it is important not to prune these types of lavender after September or you will cut off next year’s bud forming shoots.
Lavender Dentata, Pterostoechas and Allardii
These more tender types of lavender need more gentle handling and are not quite as hardy as their cousin’s angustifolia and intermedia, but if kept happy will flower almost continuously throughout the year. In this case you need simply to keep on top of dead-heading them as you go along and prune only gently to keep the plant in shape, during their active growing season.