by Maureen Williams
I recently had a discussion about recommended pruning of lavender and discovered some variance of opinion. I offered to pull out advice I obtained from “Bleu Lavande”, the lavender fields in Fitch Bay, Quebec…so here it is. Their recommendations are based on several years of experience with a variety of cultivars. Keep in mind that Fitch Bay is zone 4-5, while we are 5b. That might make a difference especially for winter protection but for the most part, their advice should be good for Kingston.
Cultivar Selection: Start by choosing a cultivar suitable for our climate. Viable choices include Munstead, True English, Hidcote, Twinkle Purple, Rosea, Lavadin de Provence and Grosso. Flowering time will vary…Munstead and Hidcote will flower early July to mid August; English, Lavadin de Provence and Grosso bloom from 3rd week of July to September. To extend bloom – obviously select from both groups.
Soil: Lavender will grow in most soil types, though Kingston clay is likely on the least favorite list. Light soil, well-drained, even rocky is ideal. In rich soil you will likely get lots of leaf but few flowers. If you have heavy wet soil, try planting in a mound.
Planting: Lavender does not like to be crowded by other plants – a 24” radius is recommended.
Watering: Water well the first year, allowing the soil to dry between watering. Once established, water only in a drought. Lavender does not like wet feet.
Winter protection: 3-4 inches of straw is recommended for guaranteed winter protection.
And the Pruning: Once the lavender has finished blooming and the flowers have dried, you must trim the plant. Using sharp, clean scissors cut all the stems right back to the leaves, shaping the plant into a rounded ball. In the spring, cut back lightly to where it is starting to leaf out, removing any part that has dried.
We have planted some lavender in our Pollinator Garden at the Memorial Centre. Note that bees LOVE lavender …a lesser known fact is that other insects including mosquitos tend to avoid it. If anyone has planted a lavender border around their patio. I’d be interested to know if it works as a mosquito repellant!