Greeks used lavender as a laxative and Romans used it as stomach remedy. We grow it today for its wonderful fragrance. This native of Mesopotamia, requires a bit of skill in cooler climates, though, since growing this legendary tender perennial from seed can have mixed results. The most reliable way to propagate new lavender plants from old is by stem cutting and layering, two fairly simple processes for the home gardener who has a little time and some patience.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Mature lavender plant
- Sharp knife
- Toothpicks or clothes pins
- Rooting hormone
- Growing medium
- Plastic or peat pots
Choose sturdy, non-flowering side shoots. Old, woody branches will not root well. Clean the leaves off the bottom half of a two-to-three inch shoot.
Dip the cut end of the shoot in a rooting hormone powder. Make a hole a pot of moist, soil less medium or sharp sand and insert the end of the cutting. Sprinkle with a little water to dampen the soil. Keep in a cool, bright place until you can feel resistance when you tug on the shoot, about two weeks. Keep moist but not wet.
If you prefer to do your stem cuttings on site or don't have room for nursery pots, choose a long side shoot and strip off about an inch of leaves. Nick the stem in a few places with a sharp paring knife, sprinkle with rooting hormone and pin this part of the stem into the dirt with toothpicks or a straight clothespin. Make sure the ground does not dry out completely. but do not over water--lavender prefers well-drained conditions and you wouldn't want to kill the parent as well as the offspring. In a few weeks, you should see new growth on the shoot and can cut its connection with the main plant.
Plant your cuttings in well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Lavender will not do well in shade, so site your new plants in full sun. Mulch plants with white pebbles or sand and cover with evergreen boughs their first winter.
Tips and warnings
- Layer lavender in the spring or fall. If you layer in the fall, sever the connection but leave the new plants next to the parent and transplant in the spring. Cuttings may be taken from May to mid-August.
- Some gardeners plant lavender as a deer deterrent.
- If you live in the northern reaches of lavender's growing zones, it might be wise to mulch every winter if your lavender is growing in an exposed area.
- A little garden gypsum will give your lavender the calcium it craves in the spring.
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