Pruning Lavender

First-year pruned lavenderThere's always some form of work to be done in the lavender field. As the year winds down, I'm getting the field ready for winter. This week is set aside for pruning any remaining plants that need a shape-up. The lavenders need a little time to recover after pruning and before the first hard freeze. Hopefully I'm still on schedule. For me, pruning the lavender can be intimidating. Prune too heavily and you risk killing the plant. But it is essential to prune in order to maintain a healthy, vigorous bush.

There are two perspectives on when to prune, fall or spring, and part of it depends on climate. Here in North Carolina, I prefer the fall and thankfully the weather has obliged with cool days. Spring pruning delays the bloom time, and the lavender will need to be pruned again in the fall. A general rule of thumb is to cut the lavender plant back by one-third, taking care not to cut too deep into the woody part. I use electric trimmers.

The piles of lavender clippings pack a fragrant punch. I use some of these around my pansies and violas to deter the deer. Some will go on a brush pile for a lavender-scented bonfire, and the rest will go to the composting pile.