French lavender care: tips on pruning, overwintering etc.


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With the right care, French lavender will provide lots of joy with its showy flowerheads. We show you how to properly prune and overwinter French lavender.

French lavender flowers
If you want to enjoy the beautiful French lavender flowers, a little care is needed [Photo: janaph/]

French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) belongs to the labiatae family (Lamiaceae). It is related to the famous true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia). Nevertheless, French lavender stands out thanks to its eye-catching, large bracts at the top of the flowerheads. Depending on the variety, these can appear in pure white, vibrant purple or brilliant violet. They can also differ in colour from the actual flowers, which are arranged in spikes and, depending on the variety, can produce a truly colourful spectacle in the course of flowering. We will show you how to benefit from the flowering of French lavender for a long time through the right care.

French lavender care: how to ensure abundant flowering

Normally, French lavender delights us with its flowering until August or even September. But sometimes it just will not flower and the ornamental flowerhead appear only in small numbers, small in size, or not at all. This can have various reasons and is quite avoidable with the right care. Especially regular pruning to prevent the shoots from becoming woody and a little fertiliser now and then are essential for abundant flowering. But the right location is also important because French lavender prefers soils that are poor in lime.

Everything you need to know about the right location and planting of French lavender can be found here.

Pruning French lavender

French lavender is a Mediterranean shrub. It tends to become woody in the lower part of the plant. If the labiate plant is not regularly kept in shape by pruning, only old, woody and bare shoots will remain. Over the years, the bush becomes shapeless and loses the power for abundant and beautiful flowering. The best time to prune French lavender is early spring. As soon as it starts to spread, half to two thirds of the shoot length should be cut off with a sharp pair of hedge shears. However, care should be taken not to cut back into the heavily woody, bare part of the plant because then the French lavender may no longer sprout.

French lavender in garden
With regular pruning, you can maintian the French lavenders flowering power [Photo: Wow Pho/]

The plant should never be cut back in autumn, as this only reduces the already rather low winter hardiness of French lavender, by creating easy entry points for frost through the cuts. If French lavender forms only a few flowers in summer, flower formation can be stimulated for a short time by summer pruning. The rule here is to cut off a maximum of one third of the shoot length so that young shoots can sprout quickly and vigorously.

Tip: Always remove the faded flowerheads of French lavender directly – this can have a prolonging effect on the flowering period.

Watering and fertilising

When grown in a bed, French lavender requires little or no watering except during prolonged dry spells. If it is cultivated in a pot, more regular watering is required. The key is to keep the substrate evenly moist, but not wet. If grown in a bed, a little slow-release fertiliser such as horn shavings, manure or bone meal should be worked into the soil once in spring before the buds emerge. Malnutrition is mainly visible through fewer flowers. To prevent this from happening, our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food can be used at the beginning of the budding season to provide long-term nutrients for French lavender.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Overwintering French lavender

French lavender is less hardy compared to its relatives in the genus Lavandula . Only with luck will it survive temperatures below -5 °C. Therefore, you should think early on how to get your lavender over the winter so that it can continue to delight you with its flowers the following year. The best place for this is a cool, but preferably bright place in the house.

Purple lavender flowers
Since French lavender likes it rather warm, you should move the plant indoors over the winter [Photo: Svetlana Zhukova/]

However, you should not overindulge the frost-sensitive French lavender. Provided that the worst frost is over and the sun’s rays are already clearly regaining strength, nothing can happen to French lavender, at least during the day outdoors. Nevertheless, it should be protected with fleece or fir branches, especially at night – and in general, if no suitable sheltered place for overwintering is available. If you take the problem of the cold to heart, but at the same time do not spoil your French lavender too much, you will create a robust plant that is guaranteed to reward your loving care with long and abundant flowering after the cold season.

Like true lavender, French lavender is also popular for its essential oils. In this article, you will learn how to dry lavender to store it better.

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