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Deadheading Lavender: An Expert Guide to Deadhead Lavender

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Do you like growing lavender, and watching the purple flowers bloom in your garden? If so, have you heard about deadheading lavender? In this article, we will discuss how to deadhead lavender, offering step-by-step instructions and valuable insights into the process. Discover how to maintain a flourishing lavender garden, and learn when, why, and how to deadhead lavender for stunning results.

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What Tools Will You Need?

When it comes to deadheading lavender, having the right tools can make the process smoother and more efficient. While some gardeners might prefer pinching off old blooms with their fingers and thumbs, lavender has sturdy stems, which may require a different approach. To ensure a clean cut and minimise stress on the plant, use sharp secateurs instead.

Secateurs are designed to make precise cuts without damaging the plant. When using secateurs for deadheading lavender, you should always keep them clean. This prevents the potential spread of diseases and fungus from one plant to another. Learn how to sharpen secateurs today so that you can achieve the best results from deadheading lavender, as well as your secateurs.

What is Deadheading?

Deadheading involves the removal of old, faded flowers from plants. Deadheading plays a crucial role in improving the overall health and vitality of your lavender and other flowering plants. Here’s what deadheading can do for your garden:

  • Energy Conservation: By eliminating dead flowers, you prevent the plant from wasting energy on flowers that are nearing the end of their bloom cycle.
  • Encouraging New Growth: Deadheading redirects the plant’s energy toward producing fresh, vibrant flowers, leading to a more colourful display.
  • Enhancing Flower Quality: Removing faded flowers can result in larger, healthier blooms that contribute to the overall beauty of your garden.
  • Second Flowering: Many lavender varieties can experience a second flush of flowers in midsummer if deadheaded after the initial bloom.
  • Maintaining Shape: Deadheading helps prevent the lavender plant from becoming too leggy or unruly, ensuring a more compact and attractive appearance.

Lavender typically blooms in late spring and summer, making it a valuable addition to gardens for attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies. By deadheading after the first bloom starts to fade, you can encourage the shrub to flower again.

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Should You Deadhead Lavender?

how to deadhead lavender

Deadheading is a great way to improve the vitality of your lavender. 

Across summer, lavender flowers may begin to fade, particularly by August. This presents an excellent opportunity to deadhead and remove the faded blooms if you haven’t already harvested them. By deadheading, you can coax your lavender plants into a new stage of blooming.

Spanish lavenders are among the lavender varieties that benefit most from deadheading, as they can bloom multiple times throughout the season. However, numerous English lavender varieties, including ‘Sharon Roberts,’ ‘Buena Vista,’ and ‘Hidcote,’ can also experience a second round of blooming after deadheading.

Lastly, deadheading lavender can also enhance the overall appearance of the shrub. It provides gardeners with a harvest of aromatic lavender stems that retain their captivating fragrance, even when it seems like the flowers are past their prime.

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How to Deadhead Lavender

To get started, prepare your secateurs and a container to collect the trimmed flowers. For delicate deadheading, consider using micro-tip pruning snips.

Before you begin, make sure that your shears are sharpened and clean. Sharp secateurs will guarantee clean cuts, reducing the risk of transferring diseases from one plant to another in your garden.

Follow these four steps for deadheading lavender:

  1. Identify: Choose a dead flower at the top of the stem.
  2. Tracing: Trace the stem back from the flower until you find a set of leaves.
  3. Precision Cut: Carefully cut the stem just above the set of leaves.
  4. Repeat: Repeat these steps for each flower stem.

If you are growing plenty of lavender in your garden, whether as hedging plants or lining garden paths, there’s a more efficient way to remove old blooms and maintain the lavender’s appearance.

Once your lavender has stopped flowering, trim the plants lightly with your shears or secateurs to remove the old flower heads. In the following spring, cutback as much of your lavender as you can without touching the woody stems.

By performing this two-stage lavender pruning routine annually, will maintain the health and appearance of the plant, ensuring that they stay on display all summer. 

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What Happens to the Plant After Deadheading?

Upon closer inspection of a lavender plant after deadheading, you may notice side shoots emerging from the set of leaves on the stem. This is known as forking. Forking begins as soon as the flower starts to fade.

By removing the spent flower and excess stem, you redirect more energy toward these forked stems. These secondary shoots have the potential to produce new blooms later in the season, extending the the period in which the lavender will flower.

When to Deadhead Lavender

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When to deadhead

Lavender typically begins to show signs of fading blooms in late spring and early summer. This is the perfect opportunity for you to begin deadheading. This timing allows you to rejuvenate your lavender plants during their peak flowering period. If you have plans to use the cut flowers for indoor accessories such as for soaps, consider cutting the stems well before the blooms completely fade. Doing so ensures that you capture the full potency of their delightful fragrance.

Of course, if you would prefer a simpler gardening routine for your lavender, a simple rule of thumb can be applied. You can do this during your weekly gardening activities i.e. watering, weeding, and trimming unhealthy stems. 

Use The Old Flowers

Don’t discard those deadheaded lavender flowers just yet; they still hold value for other purposes. The spent blooms can serve multiple roles, including:

  • Indoor Decor: Bring the beauty of your garden indoors by using deadheaded lavender as cut flowers in vases.
  • Potpourri: Dry the fragrant flowers to create homemade potpourri, adding a touch of lavender’s soothing aroma to your living spaces.
  • Wardrobe Freshener: Place dried lavender blooms in a cotton bag and tuck it into your wardrobe to enjoy the natural air freshening effects.
  • DIY Projects: Incorporate deadheaded lavender into homemade essential oils, soap bars, or other beauty products.
  • Compost: Lavender decomposes rapidly, making it an excellent addition to your compost pile, whether it’s a hot or cold composter.

Is Deadheading Necessary?

While deadheading undoubtedly has its benefits, it’s not an absolute necessity for the health and well-being of your lavender plants. Lavenders are hardy and resilient, and they generally handle their old blooms easily. Over time, these faded flowers tend to fall off naturally, usually within a couple of months.

Even if you have a lavender plant with long, straggly stems that may not look as visually appealing, do not worry. Lavenders can tolerate this to some extent, provided you give the plant an annual prune to maintain overall growth and shape. Pruning is a great way to practise deadheading, ensuring that your lavender continues to thrive season after season.

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The Difference Between Deadheading and Pruning Lavender

Deadheading and pruning are two different ways for you to care for your lavender. Understanding these differences can help you to choose how to maintain your lavender correctly. 

The purpose of deadheading is to remove dead flower blooms from the lavender plant, which will help to encourage new growth. This will preserve the overall shape of the plant while keeping it in tidy condition.

On the other hand, pruning lavender involves a more regular approach. Doing this will improve the compact appearance and overall health of your lavender. As lavender ages, its lower stems can become woody and less productive in terms of new growth. Without your own intervention, lavender can become leggy and develop significant gaps within the plant.

You can prune either in autumn after your plant has flowered, or during spring when new shoots are produced. 

How to Prune Lavender

When you come to prune lavender, you should avoid cutting into the woody stems which are found near the base. New growth tends to be limited from this woody portion, and lavender may struggle to recover from deep pruning.

As a general rule of thumb, consider the following when learning to prune lavender:

always aim to prune just above the woody stems, leaving a short length of semi-tender stem. This allows room for new growth to develop, ensuring a healthy and visually appealing lavender plant.

You watch your lavender prosper and grow from your deadheading techniques from the comfort of your outdoor teak dining furniture or wooden garden lounge furniture throughout the summer. 

When Not to Deadhead

While deadheading is great for prolonging the flowering period of many plants, you should consider other ecological factors too. All plants have a natural reproductive cycle that involves the development of fruit and seeds. Many birds and mammals rely on these seeds and fruits for food, particularly during autumn and winter.

In urban areas and wildlife-friendly gardens, deadheading can potentially disrupt this cycle, impacting the availability of food for wildlife. Plants like roses, echinacea, lavender, teasel, and sunflowers contribute to the diet of various birds.

Moreover, some plants, such as ornamental grasses, clematis, phlomis, and teasel, develop decorative seedheads that add interest to the garden throughout the winter, especially after a frost. 

Learn How To Deadhead For Better Lavender Growth

In conclusion, deadheading lavender is great for improving both the appearance and vitality of your garden. By using the right tools and techniques, you can promote new growth and prolong the flowering season. Understanding the difference between deadheading and pruning is key to maintaining a healthy, attractive lavender garden. Why not learn more about why you should be deadheading plants now for further reading.

FAQs

Should you deadhead lavender?

Yes, deadheading lavender can promote more blooms and extend the flowering period. It also helps the plant maintain its compact shape and prevents it from becoming too woody.

When should you cut off lavender flowers?

Lavender flowers should be cut off or deadheaded shortly after they have finished blooming, typically in late summer. This helps to encourage a second, albeit smaller, bloom in early autumn.

What is the difference between pruning and deadheading lavender?

Deadheading refers to the removal of spent flowers to encourage further blooming and improve the plant’s appearance. For lavender, this means removing the faded blooms.

Pruning involves cutting back the plant to maintain its shape, size, and health. For lavender, this means cutting back the stems and foliage, typically in late summer or early fall, to prepare the plant for winter and promote vigorous growth in the spring.

Do you cut back lavender after it blooms?

Yes, it’s a good practice to cut back lavender after it blooms. This not only helps in removing spent flowers but also in shaping the plant and preventing it from becoming too leggy or woody. Cutting back by about a third or up to half after the main bloom can help encourage a second flush of flowers and ensure a compact, healthy plant.


Sources

High Country Gardens.  (n.d.) Sharon Roberts English Lavender. Perennial Plants. [online] Available at: https://www.highcountrygardens.com/product/perennial-plants/lavandula-angustifolia-sharon-roberts [accessed 18/10/23]

Plant Master (n.d.) Lavandula angustifolia ‘Buena Vista’ | Buena Vista English Lavender. [online] Available at: https://plantmaster.com/plants/eplant.php?plantnum=2638 [accessed 18/10/23]

Hedges Direct. (n.d.) Lavender ‘Hidcote’ Hedge. [online] Available at: https://www.hedgesdirect.co.uk/acatalog/Lavender-Hidcote-lavandula-angustifolia-hidcote.html [accessed 18/10/23]

Amazon. (n.d.) Chanhan Professional Trimming Scissors. [online] Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chanhan-Professional-Pruning-Trimming-Scissors/dp/B07XG7649N/ [accessed 18/10/23]

Ikea. (n.d.) Potpourri. Home Fragrances. [online] Available at: https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/cat/potpourri-58412/ [accessed 18/10/23] 

Beaulieu, D., (2020). Why You Should Be Deadheading Plants. The Spruce. [online] Available at: https://www.thespruce.com/why-you-should-be-deadheading-plants-2132406 [accessed 18/10/23]

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Anna Sharples

Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches - a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.

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