The Q&A Archives: Dividing Lavender

Question: Can lavendar plants be divided? Mine have grown too large for the area where I planted them. Can I divide them and use the extra plants in other parts of my garden? How and when should I do this?

Answer: Lavender can be divided. Here's how: Find a plant that has grown out and thinned out in the center. As plants age, the center thins out and dies back, just like the inside of an evergreen tree drops its needles as the ends of the branches add new growth each spring. In order to keep the center vital, plants should be pruned back each year but eventually, they grow out too far and the center loses vitality.

First, check to see if any outer branches have already set down roots. These are called "runners" and can be chopped off between the plant and the new roots, dug up and planted in a sheltered area. They will be sturdy plants within a few years.

Or, pull the bushy growth back to see where the main plant has grown out. These rooted bunches of branches will be your new plants. There should be several bunches.
Dig as many holes as you have bunches to plant. Your lavender's new homes should be about a foot deep in an area where the soil drains easily and it will get plenty of sun.

Dig around each bunch with your garden spade. Plunge the shovel straight down, because lavender roots are quite deep.

Once you've dug around each bunch, separate it from the old plant by driving your spade straight down between the old plant and the center of the new plant and lift gently with a garden fork. Be sure to get as many of the roots as possible. Trim off any sections of the old plant with a sharp knife. Discard the old center.

Make a cone of soil in the new hole and set your lavender plant in the hole. Move each plant as soon as you dig it up. Set each plant at the same height as the old plant and fill in the hole around it. Water gently but thoroughly and adjust plant height, adding more soil if necessary.

Shade your new plants for a few days until they recover. Avoid watering too much--lavender does not like to stand in water.

Good luck with the move!

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