Lavender flower

Spanish lavender needs to be pruned in summer.

Italian lavender 'Avonview'

In the cool of the early morning and late in the afternoon I have been tidying up my garden. We had so much rain in spring that everything grew rapidly with lots of plants being overgrown, swamping nearby plants. I am just now finding time to do something about this and while most of the garden should have been cut back weeks ago (I always seem to be running weeks behind), now is the perfect time to prune most lavenders. They have been glorious right through spring but now the flower heads have largely finished and are starting to brown off, so its time to cut them back. All the Spanish and Italian lavenders (Lavandula pedunculata and L. stoechas) benefit from an allover trim. Just hold a clump of flowers in your hand and cut back well below the flowers, taking about a third of the leafy stem as well. You should end up with a compact, shaped shrub with no flowers.  One of the joys of pruning lavender is the scent, I find it makes me feel cheerful and clearheaded. Not unexpected as in aromatherapy lavender is calming and antidepressant.



Delightfully scented English lavender

English lavender 'Egerton Blue' in full flower

Neatly pruned English lavender

English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the true lavender for cooking and medicine, and it too should be pruned now, if you haven’t already pruned it to collect the flowers. The flowers are held well above the bush, so cut the stem at the base, tip pruning the leaves at the same time. Even though the flowers are well past the best time to harvest for dried flowers or oil, it is still worth stripping the stems and drying the flowers. Spread them out on paper out of direct light for a few weeks, then fill small bags with the lavender flowers and use them to repel moths while sweetly scenting your clothes. French lavender (Lavandula dentata), flowers for most of the year so it can be hard to choose the best time to prune. It can also be pruned now, just cut back about 25% all over, but I would normally prune it in spring, when the other lavenders are looking good. That way you have lavender in flower in your garden all year round.

French lavender grown as a hedge

French lavender can be pruned at any time of the year

Prune this lavender when the flowers die off