Thursday, April 26, 2012

Low Tech Lavender Propagation

English Lavender branch

Do you have lanky lavenders and can't do a thing with them?  Are you planning on pruning them but waiting until you find a way to reuse those branches?  Well I have good news!  You don't have to toss those cuttings into the compost heap, you can root them instead!

Whacking back a potted lavender

Here is a very simple propagation technique that gardeners have been doing since Methuselah was a baby and all it takes are some of those branches you just pruned off, a shovel, a spot of sunny soil to plant them in and...some patience.  Seriously, I'm not kidding, that's it.  You have got to give this a try.  When I first found out about this it really amazed me that it could be this simple.  Here, let me show you what I mean.

As simple as sticking it in a hole really!

Some of you may be familiar with the propagation technique called layering, where you pin a branch of a shrubby plant to the ground while it is still attached to the main plant, cover it with a bit of soil and wait.  Well this is sort of like that.  Last spring I cut a branch off of one of my lavenders and basically just stuck it in the garden with a little water and a little prayer and walked away.

The woman who taught me this method says branches that are 12 inches long work best...I think she may be right, but who knows.  Anyway my cutting was more like 8 inches long.  After cutting off the branch I pulled all the leaves off except the few at the top that would form the base structure of what would become my new lavender plant.

Snug as a bug in the mud

Out to the veggie garden I went, cut branch in hand, to dig a nice deep hole for the little branch.  It needed to be buried right up to it's neck, just below where the leaves stopped, and settled in with a little water.  The last step proved to be the trickiest...walking away and forgetting about it.  It became like trying not to peek at a present and having to stare at for days and it just went on and on, all through the summer and into the fall until finally it was winter and I got some relief from not having to see it as often.  And NO, I did not peek, not once!

Eeek! Are those new leaves? Wait, I just planted it!

Fall was the hardest season for me because I just knew there were roots forming down there and I am too curious for my own good sometimes.  If I dug up the cutting to peek I knew I would risk injuring the new roots which would mean I just killed another one.  I can't count the number of plant starts I have killed with anxious curiosity.  (Ugh.)  This would been so much easier if it would have been stuck in the ground where I wanted to plant a lavender.  One could grow a whole hedge of lavender that way.

Small roots but they'll grow

So the end of March came and it was time to dig it up. (Yippee, I can open my present!)  When I lifted it out of the soil I saw the roots were not as well formed as I had hoped.  Two meager roots had formed at the base of the branch and some nicer looking feeder roots up near the top.  I took a chance and cut off the lower section and again said my prayers and planted it up in a pot of potting soil so it could get a better chance of thriving if it was going to at all.

Please God, let it grow up strong and healthy

Answered prayer in the form of bright green new growth.

Today my baby lavender has more new leaves forming...a very good sign. I will be leaving it in this little container most of the summer just to be sure and pinching it back a couple of times to help keep it nice and shrubby.

So the next time you prune your lavender give this a try and let us know how it goes.

Happy Gardening!

Copyright © 2012 by Patty Hicks
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  1. Oh, I just pruned some lavender yesterday. I might try this! I love your phrase "anxious curiosity" -- it so aptly describes my approach to cuttings and lots of other gardening practices too.

    1. Thanks Alison and good luck, I hope it works for you.

  2. guess what I'll be doin over the next few days``:)

    1. Hope you are having fun Brenda. I'd love to hear how it goes for you.

  3. Does the cutting need to already have some established roots?