The Q&A Archives: Is My Lavender Dead?

Question: I planted 4 lavender plants last year that did quite well. I am not which variety they are. I did not do anything to prepare them for winter as we are in Zone 7 and our winters are usually somewhat mild. Now the plants appear dead except for some new growth which is coming out from the bottom. Do I prune off the dead parts of the plants which would leave me with very little plant left? I have also started a lot of cuttings indoors over the winter to plant outside in Spring, so I want to make sure I am doing it right! I planted my lavender in a soil/sand mixture and mulched them with crushed oyster shells.

Answer: Lavender usually does best in a location that is very well drained over winter, so with a soil/sand mixture I would not expect that to be a problem. Some varieties are however hardier than others, so this could make a substantial difference. The plants usually die back at least a little bit during the winter and mid spring care would include a "hair cut" to tidy them up. I would hesitate to trim them back too early since it may take a while for the new growth of the season to begin to show. On the other hand, new plants tend to grow bushier in subsequent years if they are trimmed back fairly hard the first year or so to force branching. On very young plants you might cut about a third off as a rule of thumb, but in any case remove any wood that is truly dead and trim lightly for shaping. To see if a branch is truly dead, begin at the tip and work your way down the branch checking for green inside the twig. If there is green it is alive still and you need to be patient. Since they are sprouting at the bottom, they are definitely still alive and should regrow quickly due to their established root systems.

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