How and When to Prune Lavender

Updated: Apr. 04, 2024

Fragrant, flowering lavender is a garden favorite. Keep your plants robust and long-lasting with our guide on how to prune lavender.

If you’ve ever grown lavender in your garden, you know there are many reasons to love it. Lavender’s pretty, fragrant blooms attract pollinators and give off a sweet perfume. It’s a hardy, perennial bush in most zones, and easy to care for. It even looks nice when not blooming, and is one of my favorite plants to grow in perennial gardens.

To remain healthy and beautiful, lavender does need regular pruning, along with well-drained soil and lots of sunshine. “Pruning lavender keeps it looking full, encourages new growth and flowering, and gives you lots of fresh tips to harvest throughout the season,” Amy Fedele from Pretty Purple Door says.

Read on to learn how and when to prune lavender with help from Fedele and Osmar Castillero from Blades Landscaping Services.

When to Prune Lavender

Since lavender dislikes extreme heat or cold, it can grow perennially in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. North or south of those zones, it does better as an annual, or in containers that are brought inside during extreme wet or cold weather. Here’s is and when you should prune your lavender during each season.


Fedele says lavender can be lightly trimmed or pruned anytime during the spring and summer. “Ideally, you should prune your lavender twice in a growing season — once in early spring and once in late summer, after it’s done blooming,” she says.


In early spring, Fedele suggests waiting until you see new growth before you prune. Then, prune again after the plants have stopped blooming in late summer.


Do your last pruning by early fall, especially if you live in a cold climate where frost can damage fresh growth.


In winter, you can generally leave lavender alone. If you live where there’s a risk of extreme cold, cover your lavender plants with evergreen boughs to protect them from frigid winds.

How to Prune Lavender

Pruning lavender isn’t complicated, but there are a few things to know:

  • As with all pruning tasks, start with a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears. Fedele recommends always sterilizing the blades before you prune. Wipe them down with rubbing alcohol or bleach, then rinse off and dry.
  • Deadhead, or remove dead flowers from the plant.
  • Identify new, green growth on the plant. This is the part you want to trim.
  • For young plants, snip new growth to encourage branching as the plant regrows. This helps establish the rounded, bushy shape lavender is known for. “Make sure to cut back new growth only,” Castillero says.
  • More established plantings can be more vigorously pruned, especially in early fall after flowering. A good rule of thumb is to cut off the top third of new growth at the end of the season. This will make your plant fuller and more shapely in the spring. “If you don’t trim them back, they get out of control,” Castillero says, “So don’t be afraid of cutting them back.”
  • Avoid cutting back the woody area of the branches below the leaves and always leave some green on the stems.
  • Try to create an open center on the plant as you prune. This allows the sun to reach all plant parts equally and allows air to circulate, which helps the plant stay healthy and fight off disease and pests.

Fun Uses for Lavender

After pruning, put the fragrant, colorful lavender trimmings to use in other ways.

  • Try adding some lavender to a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers.
  • Plant some in a container and place in a warm, sunny window.
  • Use English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) flowers for tea and as a flavoring for cocktails, lemonade or ice cream. If you’re a baker, try in pastries or cookies. It’s also a great herb for savory dishes — use it like rosemary.
  • Fedele likes to use the large, woody pieces of pruned lavender as skewers for kabobs.
  • When pruning in summer, take some of the best snips and use them as cuttings to start new plants. You can either give these to friends or plant them in your garden.
  • Fill small fabric pouches with dried lavender clippings to create sachets. These sachets then be placed in drawers, closets, or under pillows to impart a soothing lavender scent and repel pests like moths.


Can you prune lavender any time of year?

You can, but it’s not recommended. Early spring and late summer are ideal times to prune lavender. If you live in a cold climate, avoid pruning past early fall to avoid possible frost damage.

Can you cut lavender back hard?

You can cut lavender hard, but not to the ground. Make sure to leave the old wood at the plant’s core; without it the plant will not recover. “Lavender can really handle a good cutting,” Castillero says, “but make sure to leave the woody stems alone, or it can kill the plant.”

About the Experts

Amy Fedele is a home gardening expert and founder of Pretty Purple Door offering online landscape design courses for DIY landscaping enthusiasts. She holds a diploma in Garden Design and Maintenance and has been helping homeowners design landscapes since 2014.

Osmar Castillero is the owner of Blades Landscaping Services, a lawn care and maintenance company in Lowell, Massachusetts. He has over ten years experience in the industry.