Lavender Plant Care And Pruning

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In summary:

Site: dry, sunny.

Soil: medium fertility, well-drained

Planting distance: 30cm for hedges 45-60cm Prune: spring or autumn, avoid cutting into wood

Site and soil

The most important thing you must consider in your lavender plant care is the proposed site for the plant. You should remember that lavender is native in dry and sunny countries like France, Italy and Spain.

You should therefore grow lavender in a well drained, sunny site. Do not worry if your soil is heavy clay. It is possible to lighten it by adding sand or grit to improve drainage.

Lavender plants will not thrive in damp and humid conditions. They will sulk and rot and be more prone to disease and you will be disappointed.

If you want to grow lavender on a sloping site it would be best to put it at the top of the slope so that drainage is away from your plant and water does not pool at its roots. You could also plant the lavender on top of a mound or slightly raised area to improve drainage for the plant.

Lavender Plant Care And Pruning

A site in direct sunlight for much of the day is ideal, as these are the conditions you will find lavender in in the wild.

If you are not able to provide this situation or change the conditions sufficiently then it might be worth considering growing your lavender in a container.

Semi shade may be OK especially if you are planning to grow lavandula angustifolia and lavandula intermedia which are adapted to the conditions usually found in Great Britain. Lavender is a good bet with global warming as it will cope with the rise in temperatures, care will be needed though if we get increased rainfall too!

Lavender needs to grow in an average soil. If it is too fertile it will encourage sappy, leggy growth which is much more prone to disease. If it is very poor your plant may not reach its full potential in size or flowers.

Planting distance

Lavender plants should be planted according to their function in your garden and the type of lavender you are growing.

Lavenders which you plant for hedging should be close together so that they form a neat dense hedge without gaps. Usually hedges are planted with plants about 30cm apart.

Specimen lavender plants or groups should generally be planted 45-60cm apart but be guided by the eventual spread expected of your plant and what effect you wish to obtain.

When planting, try to ensure you leave some space around the lavender so that the air can circulate and reduce the risk of disease.

Pruning lavender

The main lavender plant care required is pruning.

You should be pruning lavender after flowering or early in the spring. If you live in an area where the winters are very wet and cold then you may do better to leave pruning until the spring.

Use sharp, clean secateurs to carry out the pruning to avoid introducing disease to the plant.

Cut back the foliage to tidy the plant into a shape you are happy with- do not cut into the woody stems at the base of the plant as these will not allow regrowth to occur and could kill your plant. Try to ensure that you can see new growth below where you make the cuts. You can then be fairly confident the plant will grow back.

When the plant is young you may only need cut the dead flower heads off to tidy up the plant whilst it establishes itself and reaches it full height and spread. Although, a little light pruning will encourage branching and thicken up the main body of the plant.

Leaving your plant to its own devices is an option but may lead to a straggly woody plant that will require some serious TLC in later years. Lavender plants take about 3 years to establish themselves fully. So, patience is a virtue!

Choose a dry sunny day to prune your plants and perhaps keep some of the leaves to dry and use in pot pourri.