The Q&A Archives: Harvesting Lavender

Question: My first try at growing Lavender and now I can't find info on just what part of the stem or flower bud I am to harvest/keep. What do I do...just cut the buds all off and save or do I also cut the entire stem down to the base and harvest those leaves as well??? Please, can you help me before the freeze occurs?
2nd part:::: how do I over winter these plants as I have them growing in a large tub...can I put in the garage or leave outside and mulch over the top. This concerns me because I fear the cold winter will destroy the root base if I just leave out over the winter here in Wisconsin.

Answer: I generally harvest the flowers by cutting the entire flowering stem down. Not only does this help keep the plant looking neat, but you can hang the flowers upside to dry by gathering several stems together and tying them with string. Or, if you're really crafty, you can weave several stems together to produce a lovely cluster of lavender flowers.

Although lavender plants get regularly pruned simply by harvesting the flowers, to keep them well shaped and to encourage new growth, a bit of spring pruning is in order. The taller varieties can be cut back by approximately one-third their height. Lower growing varieties can either be pruned back by a couple of inches or cut down to new growth. If you live in an area where lavender suffers some winter die-back, don't even think about pruning your plants until you see some new green growth at the base of the plant. If you disturb the plants too soon in the season, they give up trying.

It is dampness, more than cold, that is responsible for killing lavender plants. Dampness can come in the form of wet roots during the winter months or high humidity in the summer. If humidity is a problem, make sure you have plenty of space between your plants for air flow and always plant in a sunny location. Areas where the ground routinely freezes and thaws throughout the winter will benefit from a layer of mulch applied after the ground initially freezes. Also protect your lavender plants from harsh winter winds. Planting next to a stone or brick wall will provide additional heat and protection.

Best wishes with your lavender!

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