Lavender--cut back in the fall?

greenthumbs10(z5NY)November 9, 2008

Hi, Hope I'm in the correct forum . . . my other choice was perennials but I decided to try here first. I finally have 4 beautiful young lavender plants growing and I just love them but I dislike when the older plants get woody. I read somewhere that one should prune back severely in the fall and this will prevent the plants from getting woody. Any advice would be appreciated since we still haven't had a hard frost here and I could still get to those plants. Thanks. Donna

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Wow, no hard frost yet? We've had that plus even some snow already in my corner of NY State.

If there are very young plants and especially if they were newly planted this year, I would not prune them hard at all. I would let them be and do what pruning you need to next year. And then I would prune no more than 1/3 of the living parts of the plant off at any time. Do some learning about the art of pruning. What techniques are used on trees and shrubs can generally be used on smaller woody plants with good results.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 5:41PM
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Hi, I live about 35 miles north of NYC and we have had a few light frosts, but we still have some trees that have all their leaves on them!!! These lavender plants have been in the ground and growing for about 3 years now and that's why I thought it might be a good time to prune them. Your advice of not pruning any more than 1/3 of the plants makes sense. Thanks. Donna

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 5:53PM
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Everything I have read says do not prune lavender in the fall. Wait until spring as it probably won't live through the winter if you prune it now.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 8:38PM
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karen_b(6a s.c. PA)

Did you trim the flowers after they finished blooming? If not now is a good time. Below is an exerpt from a newsletter I receive from a local lavender farm...dated 12/4/08

3. Garden Note: Prune Your Lavender Now

Pruning lavender is essential to good plant growth and flowering. As a general rule, lavender should be pruned to shape at the end of the first growing season.

After the second and following years, plants should be cut back by one-quarter to one-third. It is important to remember not to cut the plants too short. Leave at least one inch of leafy stem on each branch, as there is little assurance that bare stems will sprout new growth.

We encourage fall pruning for several reasons. First, fall pruning allows the gardener an opportunity to identify and cut out dead wood. Second, fall pruning will minimize the chances of branches being broken under a heavy snowfall. Finally, fall pruning eliminates the possibility of accidentally cutting off new growth -- on which blossoms are formed -- in the spring.

4. Winter Care of Herbs (Indoor Plants)

Some professional growers claim that more indoor plants are killed by over-watering than under-watering. This is often the case with herbs; they simply do not like wet feet. So water them when they are dry -- usually not more than once a week. And -- this is important -- don't let the pots sit in saucers full of water. About an hour after you water your plants, empty those saucers and let the roots breath.

Fertilization requirements vary by plant. Generally, plants that are largely dormant in the winter, e.g., lemon verbena, rosemary, and scented geraniums, should be fertilized no more than once a month. Actively growing plants such as that basil you treasure should be fertilized every 2-3 weeks.

Basil requires lots of light (14-16 hours a day) and warm temperatures (at least 60 degrees at night). It loves a sun-filled room, but don't place it too close to windows where night-time temperatures may drop down to 45-50 degrees.

Rosemary is an impressive indoor plant, but it can sometimes be difficult. Start by thinning out the plant to allow good air circulation. Rosemary wants all the light it can get and prefers cooler temperatures in winter. A drafty south window is a perfect spot for it. Do not over water! And remember that most rosemary is hardy down to 15 or 20 degrees; don't bring it in too early. Bertha Reppert of The Rosemary House once said that rosemary should be brought in after Thanksgiving, moved back to the garden in March, and taken for a walk on nice days in winter.

If you're still bringing plants inside, remember to properly prepare them. Plants that have been in the ground need to be dug up and potted. Plants already in pots need to be checked to see if they are root bound. Repot any that are. Wash the soil off the roots and prune any broken or oversized ones. You should also prune the branches taking special care to open up the middle of the plant to allow good air circulation and let in light. As a rule of thumb, both the roots and branches should be cut back by about one third.

Give your plant a serious shower to wash off as many insects, larvae, and eggs as possible. And remember that most insecticides kill only adult insects -- not larva or eggs. In order to insure that you've gotten them all, spray your plants with insecticidal soap every 5 days for two weeks before bringing them indoors.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 2:36PM
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