Lavishing ravishing lavender

Carol learns the secret to voluminous blooms of luscious lavender...

Credit: Carol Pope

Carol learns the secret to voluminous blooms of luscious lavender…

A flamboyant fanfare
of pulsating purple.

Last fall we planted a good dozen Spanish lavender, a flamboyant flirt of a plant with voluminous flowerheads of the most vibrant purple possible. I was planning to prune every one before winter, thinking that would give them a good start come springtime, but luckily I received the BC Master Gardeners newsletter just in time with its very helpful article “Keeping Lavender Lovely: When and How to Prune.”

The bottom line according to these garden gurus is to “never prune in fall and winter and never cut to the ground.” In fact, the best time to prune lavender is when “leaf buds emerge in the spring.” This I did and I am very happy with the results: a mass of blooms up our hillside that has lasted now for what feels like weeks.

And here is the best part: Trimming each lavender down by several inches, I couldn’t help but plant some of the very vigorous-looking cuttings into a vacant vegetable bed just to see if any would take. Being tired and lazy at the time, I didn’t bother with root hormones; I simply plunked them into the soil in a matter of minutes and watered them in. Now, three or so months later, about half these cuttings have grown roots and bloomed, and are well on their way to becoming landscape-worthy specimens for next spring.

Lavish as lavender is, it is cold-sensitive: A number of our neighbours lost theirs this past winter, although for some unknown reason (perhaps less wind exposure) ours survived. For that reason, I plan to store our rooted cuttings in the greenhouse this next winter: If our outdoor Spanish lavenders succumb to winter kill, we’ll have a backup battalion ready to go once the ground warms up.