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Why is my lavender so scraggly?

CT, Zone 5, United States Us

I have some rather large lavender plants that were established in my courtyard when we bought the house. At the time, the entire garden was totally overgrown in a serious way. The stems are very long, maybe a meter or more, with nice flowers on the end. However, they don't stand up and have no foliage on the stems until the last third or so.

Last fall I cut them back dramatically to see if they were just overgrown, but now a year later they look the same: messy and scraggly. I love the smell and the flowers, but the plants look terrible. My husband says that the lavender he is used to seeing is much more bushy, stands upright and has shorter stems. He is NOT a gardener though, so who knows.

They are in full sun, good soil.



Hello Noeticblues, the place and conditions for Lavenders is fine but I think they have not been pruned properly over the years. When at the end of the season the flowers are finished you must only prune to the start of the same years growth. In your case they have been cut back to far into the hard wood, previous year's growth. This doesn't kill the plant but frankly it won't look good. I would consider using new plants or take cuttings.

12 Oct, 2009


Connecticut looks to be a beautiful state and I agree with Heron, they need to be replaced.

I would stick to the so-called "English" Lavender types being hardy to zone 5. These are usually based around one species and a hybrid, Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula x intermedia.

There are many varieties available but names you should look out for as being noted for toughness and compactness are Hidcote, Munstead and Richard Gray (sometimes spelt Grey).

12 Oct, 2009


I agree with the other answers. There comes a time with lavender plants when they simply need replacing and I would go for Munstead or Hidcote.

12 Oct, 2009


Lavender is not an attractively long lived shrub - they need replacing probably every 5/6 years, unless you like the leggy, scraggly look!

12 Oct, 2009


Definitely agree with all the might get 5 years or so out of lavender but then it tends to weaken and become brittle. If you cut back into the hardwood it doesn't regenerate well. Best pull the whole lot out and plant fresh youngsters. 'Munstead' is more compact and shorter than 'Hidcote' but both are good varieties.
When they've finished flowering, in autumn/fall cut back the flowering stems but NOT into the older wood, that way they'll be okay for next year.

13 Oct, 2009


Thanks everyone!

I'm going to remove the older plants, and replace them with younger ones. I I think I'll save the old boughs though and burn them in my fireplace this winter!

13 Oct, 2009


Great idea, they'll smell lovely! I tied all mine together and attached them to a big stick with wire, and used them as a broom....worked really well and made sweeping up leaves a fragrant pleasure! Didn't last long, but nice while it did...and then I burned it!

13 Oct, 2009

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