Monty Don's clever trick for planting lavender
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Pruning lavender is an easy task but it’s important to know exactly what you need to do before going straight in with the secateurs. While the main goal of pruning is to reduce the amount of woody growth, you first need to know which type of lavender you’re growing and how hard to cut it back, without killing the plant. Here’s the best way to prune lavender and exactly what to do with the cuttings to stop them from going to waste.
How to prune lavender
There are three main varieties of lavender, all of which should be pruned differently to keep them looking bright, and smelling fresh throughout the summer.
English lavender is hardier than most and is best known for the strong blooms that arrive in early summer, though French and Spanish lavender plants require more gentle pruning.
As a general rule, it’s best to trim lavender plants annually in late summer, just after flowering has finished.
The Royal Horticultural Society said: “Remove any spent flower stalks and about 2.5cm of leaf growth.
“Foliage can be clipped over in spring if growth is untidy or frost damaged.”
It is important to avoid cutting the stems themselves as it is unlikely that they will grow back.
For English lavender and hybrid varieties, Monrovia Nurseries recommended aiming for a “tidy, rounded mound of foliage” that will look good through the winter as well as summer.
Tufted lavender plants, including French and Spanish varieties, should be trimmed more sparingly and deadheaded consistently after flowering.
Mature plants can become straggly, woody and misshapen more quickly than young lavender, making them hard to maintain with annual pruning alone.
The RHS said: “As they are fast growing and establish quickly, they are best replaced if you want to keep everything looking neat.”
Why is it important to prune lavender?
Pruning is a very important part of lavender maintenance for several reasons.
Cutting the ‘leggy’ growth keeps these popular shrubs looking nice, while encouraging new flowers for a full, vibrant finish.
Stimulating a fresh flush of blooms also prevents the woodiness from coming back too quickly, and stops the shrub looking scraggly and sparse.
If you skip the annual pruning, it could lead to lacklustre growth, with few lilac blooms visible in the warmer months.
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What to do with lavender cuttings
Lavender is a sight to behold while in bloom during the summer, and it can be equally as enjoyable once cut from the plant too.
The silvery stems make for a soothing bedroom fragrance, or even as natural deodoriser for fabrics around your home.
While there are endless ways to use lavender cuttings around the house, these are the most beneficial uses for your fragrant off-cuts left after pruning.
Sprinkle dried lavender on your carpets a few hours before vacuuming to banish odours.
Walk over them barefoot and crush the buds to release their fragrance.
As the vacuum runs, more lavender aroma will be released while lifting the unpleasant stench from the fabric.
Lavender is a healthier alternative to mothballs but will work just as well.
Take a bundle of lavender cuttings and wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the stems.
Use a small paperclip as a hook to hang the lavender bundle on a coat hanger.
Place them upside down in your wardrobe.
The darkness will help the lavender retain its colour, and drying it upside down helps lavender retain its blossom shape.
Lavender bath salts
Use lavender in soothing and calming bath salts to relieve tension, stress, and insomnia.
To make the fragrant salts, mix the following ingredients into a clean glass jar:
- One cup of Epsom salt
- Half a cup of blended oats
- Two tablespoons of dried lavender buds
- One tablespoon of olive oil
- Eight to 10 drops of lavender essential oil
Place the lid on the jar, shake well, and leave to sit for a few days to infuse the salts.
Add a handful of lavender bath salts to warm bath water.
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