Pruning lavender: expert tips & tricks


I am currently studying agricultural and food economics. As a keen hobby gardener, plants take up most of my free time. A few years ago, I got especially interested in herbs, which is why I completed my studies to become a certified herbalist in 2018.

Favourite fruit: apples, cherries
Favourite vegetables: potatoes, fennel

Lavender can be found in almost every garden but it does not bloom optimally everywhere. One way to ensure flower splendoir lies in proper pruning of your lavender.

Person cutting back lavender with scissors
Cutting lavender back correctly is important for beautiful blooming [Photo: freya-photographer/]

True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is an absolute classic in the garden. However, it does not always want to bloom as lush and magnificent as its owner would like. This is often due to poor pruning or no pruning at all, since you can make many mistakes when pruning. Indeed, pruning lavender should prevent the plant from becoming too woody in the lower part and form only a few long shoots with few leaves and flowers.

Regular pruning keeps lavender in shape and promotes plant health. In addition, abundant branching counteracts the stemming of older lavender bushes. We have listed what to consider when pruning the popular purple labiatae (Lamiaceae).

When should you prune lavender?

Ideally, lavender is pruned twice a year: once in the spring and once in the summer. When pruning lavender in the spring, it is the timing that matters. If lavender is pruned too early and still experiences heavy frosts, serious damage to the plant can occur. Therefore, the first pruning is best done before bud break in late March to early April. The second pruning should be done in the summer just before flowering, that is, in July or August. This allows a second flowering phase in autumn.

Garden scissors
The best time to prune lavender is after ist first flowering in March or April [Photo: Vitelle/]

Should you also prune lavender in autumn?

Autumn pruning, which is common for most shrubs, is not recommended for lavender. This is because if it is pruned too late, the lavender will not have enough strength for sprouting and winter, so the cuts could quickly lead to serious frost damage. In this case, flowering is absent, and at worst, winter hardiness is also significantly reduced. Thus, the lavender may awaken from hibernation the following year clearly marked.

How do you prune lavender correctly?

When pruning lavender, never prune too deep. The pruning should also vary depending on the growth and growth phase. In spring, it is best to cut back about one to two-thirds of the lavender just before bud break. After flowering in the summer, you can cut it back to half. In general, young lavender plants should be pruned more than older ones. You can cut back the shoots to a maximum of half to promote compact growth.

With older lavender bushes, on the contrary, special care should be taken. First, remove all the withered flowerheads. Then, prune delicately and not too deep (about 10 cm) to form a bushy shape. After all, lavender can only sprout from the too woody branches close to the ground with great difficulty, or not at all.

Person pruning woody lavender
Woody lavender needs special care and attention when being trimmed [Photo: sonsart/]

Too high pruning, on the contrary, does not harm the plant but also does not contribute to quality care. Without regular pruning, lavender can become very woody under optimal growing conditions. Therefore, if it has not been pruned for a few years, it is recommended to rejuvenate the lavender in small steps over several years so as not to damage the plant.

How do you prune lavender correctly?

  • Prune twice a year
  • Spring pruning in March – April: one third to two thirds
  • Summer pruning in July or August: one third to half
  • Young plants can be pruned more than older ones
  • Do not prune into too woody parts of the plant

You can also read our special article for more about correct lavender care.

Pruning lavender for drying

The fragrant lavender flowers can be harvested and used to make various products. Tea, scented sachets and lavender oil are just a few well-known examples. For this purpose, the tips of the flowering branches are used. For harvesting, the entire lavender bush is cut back at the right time (mid-July). Then, cut the stems ideally around 10 cm below the base of the flower. You can then tie small bouquets and dry them hanging upside down in a dry, ventilated place.

We explain in detail in our special article how best to dry lavender.