Pruning sage, lavender, lamb's ear (I think)

britgardener(Z8)April 21, 2006

Hi everyone

I have a sage plant that is massively overgrown - what's the best was to reduce it's size? Can I prune it vigorously? I have an English Lavender that permanently looks sick...never does much, and I'm not sure what to do with it to help. And finally what in earth is lamb's ear used for (I REALLY hope that is it name!), and does anyone want any? I have to really thin a mound out this spring.....

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CA Kate

There are several specific ways to prune specific Salvias, so I'd need to know what kind you have.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 11:59PM
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I am also curious about pruning lavender. I am not sure if you are supposed to or not. I hope someone gives you an answer on that. I have no idea about sage. I love lamb's ear...tried to transplant it and it died.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 9:05AM
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Lavender... well, if you have the woody kind, definitely prune.... depending on where you live, I prune mine in the winter, but I think for colder places, spring is the best time to prune. I think a good rule of thumb for lavender is to just prune no more than 1/3 of the plant. I don't know about pruning sage, I've always just used it, so pruned by cooking! :o)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 10:16AM
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I have to admit I'm a little stumped when it comes to pruning sage. I have several types, common, Berggotten and Lamb's Ear. None of them have flowered (they do flower, right?), although they are thriving in their big 18" pot. But the way they grow, I am not sure on how to maintain them. Right now they seem to need little care from me and are doing excellent. Soooooo fragrant!!! One of my favorites, besides Rosemary (probably my all-time fav).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 1:02AM
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Ummm....sorry, that was BERGGARTEN sage, not Berggotten. It was 1 am when I posted, dark outside. Had trouble reading the little plastic tag, lol!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2006 at 11:56AM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

Sage and lavender like to be pruned, but not down to the woody parts. If you prune the green (nonwoody) parts 2-3 times a year, you can maintain a smaller size. Once they get overgrown, you can take hardwood or softwood cuttings and start new plants. Spring is usually the best time to strike new cuttings, but I am going to experiment with taking cuttings this month.

I cut my Berggarten sage back only once last year -- reduced it by half -- and this spring it is larger than before, with extra-large leaves!

I find it hard to prune back the lavender enough, since it is in bloom practically all summer and I hate to remove the flowering stems, but when I do I find it does much better and stays a manageable size without those ugly dried-out woody areas. This week I will harvest some lavender buds and trim back the largest one. In my climate (northern Calif.), I've seen the best results (nicest form, looks good all year) when the lavenders are pruned back hard 2-3 times a year.

I wanted one plant, so I dug up 4 puny dried-out 2-inch-high lamb's ears from someone's dry soil, coddled them until their roots were developed, and in my compost-rich soil, they have taken off. I gave away and pruned back at least 80 to 90 percent in the fall and winter, and still they have reclaimed their space from last summer. They are now in bloom, 3 feet high, and cover at least 9 square feet.

In containers, they tend to be self-limiting. I haven't grown these in pots, but I had some yarrow, thyme, and oregano in one of those 12-inch shallow patio pots for a couple years. They stayed the same size. When I planted them in the garden, the Moonlight yarrow really took off -- I divided it into 4 clumps the first year, and then divided one of those clumps into 24 plants a year later, and still have to give away lots more -- it's crowding out the gilia and echinacea and chamomile and thyme. The oregano has stayed in one nice clump, but I find smaller seedlings here and there.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 4:42AM
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