Monty Don explains how to cut back lavender to ensure they bloom again

How and when to give these fragrant shrubs a trim to keep them in tip-top condition

Lavender bush in garden with grass and bushes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With autumn here, it's tidy-up-the-garden time, and if yours is blessed with the fragrant purple shrub, you'll need to know how to cut back lavender. These bushes don't need too much focus over the year, but if you want to keep them healthy, then giving them a trim should be on your to-do list.

Whether you've got a glorious violet coloured border or you've been busy growing lavender indoors, it's well worth your time getting around to pruning.

So Monty Don and fellow garden experts have shared their tips on how and when to cut back your lavender. And more importantly, they've answered why we should all be cutting back our lavender. Hint: It's mutually beneficial for both you AND your garden. 

Everything you need to know to cut back lavender

Knowing how to cut back lavender will help your plants stay fuller, healthier, and grow back stronger and better. So, what are the top tips?

Close up of lavender plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

What you'll need

How to cut back lavender

'Use a pair of sharp secateurs for pruning,' advises Sean Lade, director of Easy Garden Irrigation. 'They provide a clean cut and cause the least damage to the plant. Ensure your tools are clean and sharp to prevent the spreading of disease.'

'To prune, start by removing any spent flower stems,' continues Sean. 'Next, trim back approximately one-third of the plant's height, focusing on the older, woody sections. Make your cuts just above a leaf node – this is where new growth will sprout.'

'Prune lavender into a mound shape, wider at the base, to allow for even light distribution and airflow. This also helps in shedding water away from the centre of the plant, reducing the chance of rot.'

'Regular pruning not only keeps your lavender plant looking its best, but it also improves air circulation and helps prevent diseases like root rot and fungal infections.'

After pruning your lavender, why not learn how to propagate lavender with the cuttings?

Easy Garden Irrigation
Sean Lade

Sean holds in-depth expertise in gardening and horticulture, with a focus on designing efficient irrigation systems. His solutions grace gardens and nurseries across the UK, embodying an environmentally-conscious approach to water usage. Sean is always happy to share knowledge, guiding gardeners and growers through regular training on irrigation best practices.

How hard should you cut back lavender?

Close up of bee on lavender flower

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

'Cut back hard to a good compact shape but be sure to leave some new shoots on each stem - lavender will often not regrow from bare wood,' says Monty Don. 'These new shoots will grow fast and provide an attractive and healthy cover to protect the plant in winter and provide the basis of next year’s display.'

It's best to avoid a 'hard' prune, as lavender doesn't respond well to it. A hard prune is where you cut the majority of the plant right back. So, if you're just learning how to grow lavender, remember that with young plants that you should go as gentle as possible until it's more established.

When should you cut back lavender?

Lavender bush in garden with grass and bushes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So now we know how to cut back lavender, but it's also important to know exactly when you should be pruning your plant.

'To avoid woody, leggy plants, lavender should be pruned every year,' says Monty. 'The best time to do this is as soon as the flowers start to fade.'

With this in mind, pruning lavender is one of the jobs to do in the garden in August into September. 'The best time to prune lavender in the UK is in late summer or early autumn after the plant has finished blooming,' explains Sean. 'This allows the plant to recover before winter and encourages fuller growth in the next year.'

'You can also do a light trim in the spring to remove any winter damage, but the main pruning should be in late summer or early autumn.'

So, essentially you're looking at two prunes - a light cut in spring, and a more thorough job towards the end of summer.

When should you prune English lavender?

Exterior of house showing corner bifold doors leading out onto garden with lavender plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

Remember that not all lavender plants are the same, so before you get pruning these Mediterranean garden staples make sure you know what variety of lavender it is that you're dealing with. The most popular in the UK are English and French or Spanish.

'English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most common type of lavender found in the UK,' says Sean. 'It should be pruned once a year, in late summer or early autumn, after it has finished blooming. You can also give it a light trim in the spring to remove any winter damage.'

Monty Don has also shared a warning when it comes to cutting back English lavender. 'Do not wait for the seed heads to form or the flowers to turn brown as you want to allow the maximum amount of time for regrowth before winter,' he says.

When should you prune French lavender?

'French or Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) blooms earlier than English lavender, usually in the spring or early summer,' adds Sean. 'Therefore, you can prune it right after it finishes blooming, typically in mid to late summer.'

How do I look after lavender in my garden?

Even if you're a pro at knowing when and how to cut back lavender plants in your garden, there are a few other gardening tips you can do to keep them happy and healthy, whether you've bought one from a garden centre, or mastered how to grow lavender from seed.

'Lavender plants prefer well-drained soil and lots of sunlight,' explains Sean. 'In less-than-ideal conditions, they may need more care, including possible adjustments to watering and pruning practices.'

'Lavender is a drought-tolerant plant, which means it's more susceptible to problems from overwatering than underwatering. Make sure the soil is dry before watering and avoid getting the foliage wet to prevent fungal diseases.'

'In colder areas, protect your lavender plants in the winter by adding a layer of mulch around the base of the plant, but not touching the plant itself. This helps to insulate the roots without causing stem rot.'

Remember – lavender is a pretty easy plant to look after. So long as you give it some TLC when it's needed, you'll be rewarded with fragrant flowers for a long while to come.

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.