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Forgot to prune lavandula - can I do it now, and how much?

I forgot to prune my lavandula plant at the end of summer. It really loved the spot I put it in, so it has easily quadrupled in size compared to when I bought it in March as a small garden centre plant. It's now about one and a half feet tall, and has bushed out a lot. There are a few inches of green on all sides, but then when you get further in to the plant than that everything is brown and looks like it has already started to go a bit woody.

Am I able to prune it now so that it's a bit shorter ready for new growth in Spring, and if so, how far back can I cut it? I think I remember reading somewhere that the lavender family aren't keen when you cut them back to woody growth, so should I only cut back an inch or so into the greenery or am I safe to cut further back into the brown portion of the plant?

The bees absolutely adore this plant, so the last thing I want to do is kill it, but I also have other plants nearby that I would like to survive, so if possible I would like to tame it a bit so that it doesn't out-compete them for light.

Thank you for any help and advice!


  • SophieKSophieK Posts: 242
    Stalking your discussion as I am in the same position...
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,706
    It will not regrow out of brown wood. You can lightly trim it , but you still need green wood.  The old flower spikes should break off easily now to tidy it up.  If it is getting too big for the spot, it is always useful to take some cuttings from it in summer.
  • @fidgetbones Ah, I did think that might be the case, but I wanted to check. In that case I will give it a light tidy for now without venturing into the brown stalky bits. Come summertime, I will try to remember to take some cuttings! Thank you for your help.
  • K67K67 Posts: 2,507
    On mine I cut off the dead flower stalks and tidy a bit in the autumn then when the new growth appears in spring I usually give the plant a light going over.
    I have cut back into old wood but only the stems that show new growth at the base of the stem. I've also taken off a few branches to keep the plant a neat size if it's a bit sprawling.
  • @K67 That sounds like a good way of doing things, thank you. I shall take the flower heads off this weekend as you and @fidgetbones have suggested and tidy up a bit, and then give it a gentle trim once the weather starts getting a bit brighter. Thank you.
  • @SophieK, @fidgetbones and @K67 have given us some very useful advice above. Fingers crossed we can salvage our lovely lavandula plants, despite our previous neglect!
  • edhelkaedhelka Posts: 2,328
    I prune most of my lavenders in late winter/early spring. It is best to do it just before the new growth starts. As hard pruning as you can without cutting into the brown wood.
  • @edhelka, thank you, good to know!
  • We visited a garden in Suffolk a couple of years ago, the head gardener there, said they do the same as @edhelka. They have lavender plants that are over 50 years old, so I guess this is the best advice.
    AB Still learning

  • @Allotment Boy A very useful anecdote, thank you. I will give it a go, and hope that I am as successful as them!
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