When To Cut Back Lavender

Wondering when to cut back lavender? There are a few key times of year to trim and care for these flowering plants.

The best time to cut back lavender is in the spring. Early spring is a great time to cut back dead wood to healthy growth and to shape the base of the plant before it puts on flower stalks. While the entire lavender plant should not be cut back in the fall, it is common to remove spent lavender flowers in autumn.

Read on to learn all about how and when to cut back flowering lavender plants.

when to cut back lavender

When To Cut Back Lavender

The best time to cut back lavender is in the spring. Wait until the plants come out of winter dormancy. Look for new growth and take note of any parts of the plant that were damaged or died during the winter.

While the entire lavender plant should not be cut back in the fall, it is common to remove spent lavender flowers in autumn. Deadhead the plant by snipping off the spent flowers, including their stem down to the leaves. This keeps the plant looking neat and feeds the desire of many gardeners to get their yard ready for winter.

lavender plants after being cut back in spring
Varying degrees of winter-kill on lavender plants in the spring

Here are some expert tips about when to cut back lavender:

Lavendula: Maintenance includes an annual barbering just after new growth has appeared: cut back by a third to encourage compact, vigorous growth. Beware of pruning too early, as soft young growth may get frosted.”

Essential Perennials: The Complete Reference to 2700 Perennials for the Home Garden, by Ruth Rogers Clausen and Thomas Christopher

Lavandula angustifolia (Common or English Lavender): Prune in spring to keep the plant neat to remove winterkilled wood. Later in the growing season, clip off spent flower heads as they form.”

The Pruning Book: Completely Revised and Updated, by Lee Reich
dead wood removed from lavender shrub after winter-kill due to cold weather
Start spring lavender pruning by removing wood that is obviously dead, damaged, or diseased.

How To Cut Back Lavender

Start your spring lavender pruning by removing any dead wood or branches that are damaged or diseased. Then cut back the plant by removing 1/3 of the length of each branch. Try to leave 2/3 of the length of each live branch on the plant.

Cutting back lavender is easiest with a pair of handheld pruning shears. These are my favorite ones to use:

butterfly on lavender in the front yard garden

Why To Cut Back Lavender

Lavender should be cut back in the spring mainly to remove any branches that were damaged or died during harsh winter conditions. Trimming the shrub keeps the plant neat, as well as encouraging the plant to grow more vigorously (and in a more compact form).

new english lavender plants ready to be planted into the garden
Brand new lavender plants may not need any pruning or cutting back for a year or two as they become established. These small plants tend to stay compact and neat for a year or two before they need to be cut back each spring.

Mary Jane

Mary Jane is a home gardener who loves creating healthy, welcoming spaces (indoors and out!) - About Mary Jane (https://www.homefortheharvest.com/authors/about-mary-jane-duford/)

Recent Posts