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Preparing lavender and salvia for winter - should I cut off all the old flower heads/stems?

I have got quite a lot of lavender bushes and some salvia, and was wondering if I should cut off the old flower heads and their stems now, is it better for the plants to do that?

I think I am supposed to prune the main bush part for both of them in early spring for both of them, to encourage new growth at that time.

Thank you very much.



  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,698
    Can’t speak for salvias but lavender, yes, cut the stems back.

    But be very very careful not to cut back to a piece of stem with no new sprouts showing.

    Always leave a few new buds showing green on every stem you cut back.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Pink678Pink678 Posts: 384
    Many thanks - just to check, do you mean to cut only the long spindly bits now, i.e. the spent flower head with some of the very thin stem holding it (circled in yellow), and to wait until spring to cut the chunky pieces with the foliage (circled in red)?

  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,158
    edited 20 November
    Yes, just lightly trim the lavender back as you've shown on the photo. You might not need to cut back in the Spring as they look like fairly young plants. 

    As for the salvias, l have cut mine back leaving an inch or so of stem. I will cut the stems right back probably late March/early April. I leave a bit of stem as a marker, l think there is also a school of thought that says it can act as an "umbrella" if we have any snow.

    Shrubby salvias are treated differently  :)

  • Pink678Pink678 Posts: 384
    Many thanks AnniD.
    So in my case for my salivas, I would prune off most of the brown spent stems, but leave all the green leaves as cover for winter?
  • LynLyn Posts: 23,064
    I’ve cut the lavender flower stalks down on mine and brought them in to dry for cake making. 
    I’ll trim back in the Spring if they are still alive,  most times they’re not,  I sow seeds every year so I know I’ll have fresh plants. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Pink678Pink678 Posts: 384
    Thank you Lyn, sounds like a good idea to be sowing seeds.
    Mine seemed to survive OK but each year is different.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,158
    That's what l've done with my salvias. If we get a really wet winter the remaining leaves can go a bit mushy so l might cut them off say January/February time. Those types of salvias are pretty hardy. 
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,079
    I leave herbaceous salvias until spring, like other herbaceous perennials, unless they completely flop over. I'd rather have a bit of structure in the winter than flat bare beds. As far as the plant's heath goes, I don't think it matters much either way unless you live somewhere very cold and it's a not-fully-hardy variety, in which case leaving the top growth on gives a bit of frost protection.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Pink678Pink678 Posts: 384
    Ah OK JennyJ, maybe I will leave the salvias then, as they don't look too bad and it would mean less  work! :)
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 12,158
    edited 20 November
    Always in favour of less work  :) !
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