How to Prune or Trim Lavender Plants

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Sweet-smelling lavender adds interest to the home landscape. These small shrubs produce an abundance of small purple flowers on long stems that are covered in silver-green leaves. The flower stems are harvested for use in teas, as an herb, or to add the sweet smell to potpourri and other fragrance products. Lavender is resistant to most pests and requires little care other than a yearly pruning. The flowers are only produced on new growth, so trimming keeps the lavender attractive and productive, according to Colorado State University Extension.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Inspect lavender in early spring for new growth. Prune as soon the first green leaves begin emerging from the base of the shrub. Alternately, prune the lavender in fall after the first frost.

  • Cut off the top one-third of all the lavender stems. Use a pair of clean, sharp shears and remove each stem in one cut. Jagged cuts are unattractive and more likely to leave open wounds that lead to disease. Shape the plant as you prune, cutting it into an even mound.

  • Trim out sprigs of lavender flowers as desired once the shrub begins blooming. Cut as low on each stem as possible when about half the blooms have opened.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bundle the harvested sprigs of lavender flowers together and secure them with a rubber band around the stems. Hang in a well-ventilated area to dry.
  • Trim out lavender flowers in the morning. The oils are more concentrated at this time so the lavender fragrance is more pronounced.
  • Lavender tolerates severe pruning. Cut back overgrown shrubs that haven't been trimmed in several years to half their height to bring them back to their former beauty.
  • Lavender plants split open if they aren't prune yearly. Splitting occurs when the sides of the plant spread, leaving an area in the center with few if any branches.

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References

  • Photo Credit field of lavender image by Michalis Palis from Fotolia.com
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