Can you ever have too many lavender plants? This article explains how to propagate lavender from cuttings. The project doesn’t require any special equipment, and it’s easy enough for a beginner. Read on to learn more.
Propagating Lavender Plants
You can start lavender from hardwood or softwood cuttings. Softwood cuttings are taken from the soft, pliable tips of new growth. Hardwood is thicker than softwood and resists bending. It may snap if you force it to bend.
The best type of cutting to use depends on the type of lavender and the time of year. Softwood cuttings are plentiful in spring, and you can gather more of them without destroying the parent plant. They root quickly but aren’t as reliable as hardwood cuttings. While softwood cuttings are only available in spring, you can take hardwood cuttings in spring or fall.
Some types of lavender bloom freely, making it hard to get a blossom-free stem when the wood is soft. Blossoms drain the plant of energy, and it’s unlikely that a stem will have the resources to form good roots if it is trying to bloom. These free-blooming plants are best rooted from hardwood cuttings.
Taking Cuttings from Lavender
Regardless of the type of cutting, you should always cut healthy, straight, vigorous stems for rooting. Choose stems with good color and no buds. Use a sharp knife to take a hardwood or softwood cutting measuring 3 to 4 inches long. Cut hardwood stems just below a bump that indicates a leaf node.
Remove all of the leaves from the lower 2 inches of the stem and then gently scrape the skin off the bottom portion of the stem on one side with a knife. Set the cutting aside while you prepare the container.
Fill a small pot with commercial starting medium or a homemade mix of half vermiculite or perlite and half peat moss, with a little bark added to facilitate drainage. Dip the stripped tip of the cutting in rooting hormone, if desired. Rooting hormone helps prevent the tip from rotting and encourages quick, strong root development, but lavender roots well without it.
Stick the lower end of the cutting about 2 inches into the soil and firm the soil so that the cutting stands up straight. Cover with plastic to form a greenhouse-like environment for the cuttings.
Lavender Cuttings Care
Softwood cuttings from lavender root in two to four weeks, and hardwood cuttings take a little longer. Check to see if the stems have roots by giving them a gentle tug. If you feel resistance, the stem has roots holding it in place. Wait several days between tugs, as you can damage tender young roots by tugging on them too often. Remove the plastic bag when the cutting has roots.
Set the new plant in a sunny location and water it when the soil is dry, an inch (3 cm.) or so below the surface.
Feed the plant with one-quarter strength liquid plant fertilizer once a week. If you plan to keep the plant in a pot for more than two or three weeks, transplant it into a larger pot with regular potting soil that drains freely. Commercial potting soils have plenty of nutrients to maintain the plants without supplemental feedings.
Propagation of lavender from cuttings is easy and more likely to be successful than growing the plants from seeds. With cuttings, you can rest assured that your new plants will be exactly like the parent plants.