Ask a Question forum: English Lavender plants

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Plymouth, MI
SarahEssig
Jun 24, 2017 10:50 AM CST
I have been trying to grow English lavender for the past 3 years. I have 2 separate plants that are 3 yrs. old, one on its 2nd year & another I planted this year. The 1st 3 have flowered & I have been looking for information on the web about cutting the flowers and pruning the shrub. (I don't think I do anything to the new plant until year #2) I cut some of the plant back this year in spring to remove the dead parts from winter. It took 2 plants all summer to turn green & flower after the 1st year. I have not noticed much new growth on any of them & a lot of the stems are already woody -- which I am learning you don't want? But, can all of the wooded stems be cut back to just the new growth next spring or even in the fall? My plants need help and the one on its 2nd year has green leaves & flowers growing on just the ends of what looks to be a dead branch.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 24, 2017 11:03 AM CST
Hi and welcome, Sarah. Yes, those lavender plants do look a bit wimpy for being 3yr. olds.

Was it just a cloudy day, or are you growing these plants in the shade, by any chance? They really would want full sun exposure where you are.

Did you give them any fertilizer early in the spring? As soon as the green of new growth shows up they need a little bit of a feeding.

How about watering? They do like to be on the dry side, but won't do well with no help at all. A regular deep watering about once a week when the weather is hot and a little bit of help through the fall if it's dry.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
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Calif_Sue
Jun 24, 2017 11:46 AM CST

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Lavender thrives in drier habitat, it's one of the Mediterranean plants that thrives on neglect. It needs good drainage and good air circulation. Do not over-water, allow the soil to dry before watering again. Don’t over fertilize, they grow best in lean soils. You can add a side dressing of compost once a year but they don't like it overly rich.
It is suggested that in winter, you want to prune back the season’s new growth by 2/3rds of the stem length but avoid cutting into old wood.
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Plymouth, MI
SarahEssig
Jun 24, 2017 12:19 PM CST
Thanks for the post! It may have been cloudy when I took these pictures-I am not sure? The third picture is of a plant in full sun though! The first 2 pictures are of the same plant which is shaded by another plant. That may be the problem right there? What I found on the Internet said not to fertilize Lavendar, which I did not do this year in the Spring. I will also have to watch how much they are watered because I may have over done it last year when we had a really hot summer? I am mostly concerned by the small amount of new growth and by the large amount of woody stems that each of the plants have. I will have to cut back the wooded stems at some point and do not see these plants getting much bigger or producing a ton of Lavendar? I also want to know when you should trim the flowers and if the plant will produce more Lavendar after they are cut off?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 24, 2017 12:31 PM CST
They only put on one big flush of blooms per year. You should cut the blooming stems off just when the flowers are finishing. Lower blooms will be done, top blooms will be fully open. That's "The Moment" when the scent is at its best.

To get bigger, lustier plants going I would go ahead and give them a little bit of fert after you cut the flowers. A balanced, time-release pelleted fert would be good. You might get a bunch more healthy top growth by fall this way, and it will lead to more flowers and bigger plants next year. If these plants were healthy and well established, then no, you don't need fertilizer but well, they're not nearly as big as a 3yr. old plant should be.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: kathy
Michigan
Zone 4b, near St. Clair MI
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katesflowers
Jun 24, 2017 6:07 PM CST
Hi Sarah
I have lavender, lots and lots.
Some plants are over 40 years old.
First of all - wood stems are good, do not trim them.
I would not trim a new plant for the first two years.
By year three they start giving you a nice showing of bloom stems, you can choose to harvest the bloom stem only, bundle and hang upside down to dry. If not, enjoy them and after the blooms are finished only trim the bloom stems, not the woody branches they grew from. I use an electric hedge trimmer on my 60 plants.
Bonus - if you let your blooms complete their cycle, they produce seeds and I have gotten a few new plants here & there.
The scent in June around here is heavenly.


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"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
Name: kathy
Michigan
Zone 4b, near St. Clair MI
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katesflowers
Jun 25, 2017 8:45 AM CST
As I stroll the garden this perfect summer morning, I'm thinking about you, Sarah. Your lavender-could the ground be on the damp side all season? I have a volunteer lavender who decided to grow next to the wash-out of my gutter. So I carved out a path for the rain water to continue on well past that plant. I lined the raceway with planks from an old whiskey barrel and restrained the plant with a couple of patio blocks. This is a three year old plant in full bloom.
I only fertilize in early spring [miracle grow] and never water.
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"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
Plymouth, MI
SarahEssig
Jun 25, 2017 7:29 PM CST
Your Lavendar plants are beautiful!! I was thinking that the plants I have should be well on their way by now if they were going to do well in the place I have them? Maybe next year!? The ground is not typically moist-we have been using the sprinkler to water lately. There are Hydrangeas and other new plants in the same space and that may be what you are seeing? We had a hot summer last year and they might have been a little over watered, but I will shoot for watering once a week and will also use a watering can. I have since fertilized the 3 plants and will keep my fingers crossed that in the next 2 weeks there will be more new growth? I wondered if the wood stems-which I didn't think were good-might be because the plants have not formed a root system yet? Maybe they will be established after this summer with the help of the new fertilizer?Then next year after cutting them back the flowers will grow less from the wood stems and begin to fill out more like the plants in the photos?????
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Jun 25, 2017 7:34 PM CST
Hi Sarah,
My Lavenders do not look as great as Kathy"s plants, not enough sun...I never water them, and when planted had to dig in a lot of gravel to make sure the drainage was sharp. They are still making it, however every spring I always wonder.
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22
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ctcarol
Jun 25, 2017 7:41 PM CST
From what I've read, you never cut into the woody part because it won't regrow. I've never tried it myself, but Munstead types don't do very well for me, and that's the only type I like. Mine are only good for about two years in this zone. Like lilies and a lot of others, since all of our rain is in winter, with no chill to speak of, two or three years is all I get.
Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
Sunset Zone 15
Plant Database Moderator Region: California Cottage Gardener Roses Irises Clematis
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Calif_Sue
Jun 25, 2017 9:13 PM CST

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English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote')
is my favorite, the blooms are darker

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