Erin and Wenda have their hands full in the garden this time of year. In addition to the regular fall clean up and mulching, there is the daily onslaught of leaves. While many trees have already shed, our three beech trees are standing proud full of bright green leaves.
As we were pruning the lavender, we remembered all the guests who ask, “how and when do I prune?” So we thought this would be a good opportunity to share some tips. Unfortunately, we are a bit late in sharing since the weather turned unexpectedly cold. Luckily Wenda’s keen farmer’s instinct told her to prune the lavender before the weather changed.
We turned to our friends at Pelindaba Lavender, located on San Juan Island for the “how to prune lavender guide.” They are the lavender experts as they prune 25,000 plants annually. Their harvest is used in the production of more than 200 lavender-based products. Depending on the lavender’s intended use – culinary, oil or sachet, it is harvested at different times throughout the season.
According to Pelindaba’s owner, Stephen Robins, “pruning is necessary for good flower development and to prevent woody stalks. The best time to prune in the Pacific Northwest is late fall before the first frost.” Pelindaba prunes with hedge trimmers. Wenda does our plants with hand scythes or clippers.
Pelindaba recommends cutting the flowers and stalks to within two leaf nodes above the grey/brown woody part of the stem at the very base of the plant (leaving approximately 2-3 inches of green stalk). As you prune, try to maintain a compact hemispherical shape that will inform the plant’s growth next season. When you are finished the lavender plant should look like a little hedgehog.
Pruning is really important to the plant’s health as we can attest first hand. Before Wenda’s tenure, we neglected to properly prune a few of our lavender plants. They became leggy and top heavy and we eventually had to replace them. Robins, is quick to remind us that cutting too far into the woody part of the stem, can be harmful as well and decrease plant life significantly.
If you have any questions about pruning your lavender plants or general lavender plant care, we direct you to the experts. You are welcome to email them. Happy Pruning! Your toils will be rewarded with beautiful flowers and harvest next season.