The different types of lavender bloom at different times. The crested lavender or butterfly lavender shows its lush blossoms from May, while the warmth-loving variants of the real lavender and the spotted lavender open their flowers from June at the earliest. Basically, what has faded should be cut off, but not if the lavender does not bloom until late in the year. In this case, wait until spring to prune

Cut back lavender regularly

The vigorously growing lavender, which comes from the Mediterranean region, is one of the so-called subshrubs. As such, the plant, which can be up to a meter high and just as wide, lignifies from below with increasing age. It sheds, as the gardener says, because no new leaves or flowers form on the old, woody shoots. If lavender bushes are not pruned regularly, they will show little growth, develop almost no flowers and practically fall apart. If, on the other hand, you use scissors every year, the plants will remain dense and bushy. In addition, if they are rejuvenated again and again, they can easily live to be up to 30 years old.

The right season for a pruning

It is best to cut trees in autumn or winter, according to the old gardener adage. However, this does not apply to the sensitive lavender, as the withered shoots give the plant a certain degree of frost protection. The more suitable season for pruning, on the other hand, is early spring, when there is no more threat of frost and new shoots have not yet started. If the weather permits, you can use scissors between March and April. If, on the other hand, the plant has already set flowers – which can already be seen in the case of the potted lavender in May – it is too late for a topiary. In this case, wait until after flowering or until the following spring.

Tip: You do not need to compost the clippings or even dispose of them with household waste. Instead, chop it up nicely and use it with ripe compost to mulch roses, for example. This will keep aphids and other pests away in a completely natural and pollutant-free way.

Can I cut off dead flowers?

You can cut back withered inflorescences until the beginning of August at the latest, but in no case later. If you cap the withered shoots, the lavender will form a second flower. This can be fatal shortly before winter, because these young twigs do not mature in time until frost and the plant inevitably dies. In the case of late flowering, simply leave the withered parts of the plant on the plant, they serve as winter protection and do not need to be cut back until the following spring.

Harvest lavender flowers

If, on the other hand, you want to harvest the lavender flowers, it is best to cut them before the buds have opened properly. You can recognize the optimal time when the buds in the middle of the panicle are already open, while those at the edges are still closed. Now the flowers contain the highest concentration of essential oils and are ready to be harvested. It is best to cut the flower stalks on a warm and sunny day, if possible in the late morning and before the heat is greatest at midday. By then, any morning dew has already evaporated, so that the lavender can be dried more easily – and does not threaten to go moldy because of damp leaves.

Tip: After harvesting, do not cut back the lavender a second time, but leave the shoots on the plant and do the topiary in spring.

How to cut lavender correctly: this is how it works

So that the lavender grows beautifully bushy, does not become bald and develops its lush blossoms every year, you should definitely pay attention to the following tips when pruning annually:

  • Use sharp, clean hedge or rose shears
  • optimal time for pruning: early spring before budding
  • Cut back young lavender bushes by a third to two thirds
  • Summer pruning: Cut the bushes by a maximum of half
  • do not prune older bushes as much as younger ones
  • never cut into old wood
  • Lavender no longer sprouts from the old wood
  • Cut back lignified bushes by only about ten centimeters
  • no cut in autumn
Tip: If the lavender bush is already heavily lignified, it can no longer be rejuvenated by pruning it too hard. On the contrary: in most cases, the plant will not survive such a radical cut. Instead, take cuttings, discard the old plant, and keep the new ones regularly topped.

Lavender should be cut back annually, as a break of only two to three years can cause a lot of woody plant parts in the strongly growing plants. When cutting, make sure that you always leave a few centimeters of young shoots – recognizable by the still green wood – on the bush. Otherwise the lavender will only sprout with difficulty or, in the worst case, not at all. You should also not cut back withered shoots after the beginning of August.

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