With everything starting to slow down in the garden, September is the perfect time to take lavender cuttings if you want to increase the number of plants you’ve got in your garden.
In a recent video, our friend Martin of Pots & Trowels shows you exactly how to get lots of lovely lavender with some simple steps. You can watch the video below, or keep reading for all the advice you need to easily get free lavender plants!
You’ve got some choices for taking lavender cuttings at this time of year. Traditionally, you would wait until all the flowers have faded and snip the old flower stalks back down into the plant where they started. This means that all the energy goes back down into the plant and also tidies the plants up.
However, if you don’t want to do that, you can also just simply leave on the old seed heads over winter. They’ll eventually naturally fall to the floor, and small seed eating birds such as finches will scratch around and eat them up.
You can also shorten any long growth and give them a light, gentle tidy up, but don’t prune them too hard down into the plant, as you want to be able to give them another tidy up in the spring which will then promote the new growth that’ll flower next summer.
How to take semi-ripe lavender cuttings
When it comes to taking your plant cuttings, you’re looking for what’s called secondary growth. This is a flush of growth that’s happened after flowering that will usually be several inches long. If you work down the length of the stalk, you should be able to see the original wood at the bottom that will have now gone brown, and then the new piece of growth that should’ve started to firm up growing out of it. It should be soft and new, but not so woody and not too sappy, which is ideal for taking a cutting – AKA a semi-ripe cutting.
Take a cutting by grabbing your garden snips or scissors and cutting the stalk down slightly into that older wood. Any buds left at the tip on your plant where you’ve taken the cutting will grow next year and will encourage your plant to bush out. Once you’re happy with your amount of cuttings, it’s time to prepare them for rooting.
How to propagate lavender cuttings
Propagating your lavender cuttings is very easy, and you’ll normally get a good percentage that root. To root them you’ll need a container to put them in, such as reusable cell trays (root one cutting per cell), small fibre pots (root 2 cuttings per pot) or 9cm plastic pots (root several cuttings around the pot edge). You don’t want to use containers that are too big, as if it’s got a big volume of compost it can get very wet and your cuttings will rot off before the roots are produced. Small terracotta pots are also ideal since they’re porous, meaning that they won’t get too wet.
Compost choice is also important when it comes to your cuttings, as again, you don’t want to create an environment that is going to be too soggy for your cuttings to thrive. Multi-purpose compost on its own will most likely hold too much moisture in this instance, so Martin suggests mixing in some perlite, grit or coarse sand to allow good drainage and air porosity around the base of the cuttings which will encourage the roots to develop.
Loosely fill your container(s) with your compost mix, firm it slightly and level it off, then grab your dibber ready to plant your cuttings once they’ve been prepared.
To prepare your lavender cuttings, you can use your snips or garden scissors, or you can also use a gardening knife, to cut fairly low down where the growth has started. Make the cut where the stalk is just starting to firm up and a little bit below a pair of leaves, also known as a leaf node. Ideally you want your cutting to be around 2-3 inches long.
Once you’ve got your lovely, clean cut, you can use your fingers to take the lower leaves off individually or, if you’re careful, you can hold the cutting at the top and strip the leaves off as you pull your finger down the stalk. Leave a sort of a rosette of leaves at the top of the cutting – if you leave too many on they’ll lose moisture before the roots form, and you certainly don’t want any of those leaves to be under the compost. If the top growth is very soft, it’s probably an indication that it’s too early to take them, but what you can do is also just pinch the tip out if you wanted to, and then when they root the little buds in between the leaf and the stem will form a new head on it.
Now that you’ve prepared your cuttings, get your containers and your dibber, make a hole for your cutting, push it into the soil so there’s about an inch down in the compost, and lightly firm it in. You don’t need rooting powders or anything like that for these types of cuttings.
Once your cuttings have been set into their pots, give them a drink of water and stand them somewhere out of direct sunlight. A shady part of a greenhouse or cold frame is ideal, but you can also keep them outside if you’ve got a shady part of the garden. Don’t use an enclosed propagator or similar, as again too much moisture or humidity will make them rot off before the roots can develop.
Give them a couple of months to root, and by next spring you will be able to hopefully pop them out and they’ll have a really good root system which you can then grow on and get new plants in the garden for free!
Where to buy Darlac tools
Make life a little easier for yourself by using the right garden tool for the job. You can find our Darlac products in store from your local garden centre, or you can buy selected products direct online from our website. Find your local Darlac stockist here.
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