Lavender is a beautiful flower with myriad culinary uses. It’s good in tea, on cake, even in ice cream, not to mention all the butterflies it attracts. It’s also great for stress. It’s only natural to want to fill your garden with it, but what if you only have one plant and you don’t want to wait for seeds? Just as you can propagate any plant easily, so too can you propagate lavender from cuttings. In fact, it’s one of the best herbs to propagate. Here’s how!
The time it takes depends somewhat on the type of lavender cutting you use and the method you use to propagate it, but it’s only a matter of weeks. Softwood cuttings — cuttings that are taken from younger plants and are still flexible — take two to four weeks to put out roots. Hardwood cuttings — which come from more-mature plants — take three to six weeks but are generally hardier.
First, select what type of cutting you want and choose an appropriate stem. Softwood cuttings root faster, but they aren’t as reliable and don’t do well propagating in water. Hardwood cuttings are hardier and do better in water, but they take longer to root. Select a stem that is healthy, with a good color, no damage or off-colored spots, and has leaves but no buds. When a plant starts to flower, it puts a lot of energy into making that flower, which means it has less energy for making new roots. It isn’t impossible to root a stem that has a bud, but it is certainly more likely to fail.
Once you’ve selected your stems, the next step is to make sure your knife or garden scissors are sharp. If your blade is dull, it will tear or crush the stem, damaging both the cutting and the plant you’re cutting from. A sharp blade cuts cleanly through, allowing the remaining plant to heal quickly and your cutting to put out roots.
Your cutting should be 3 to 4 inches long, although a hardwood cutting from a mature plant can be a little longer. Consider how tall your plant is. You want to leave at least as much as you’re taking, so if your plant is only 5 or 6 inches tall, you should wait a while before cutting.
Strip the leaves from the bottom few inches of your cutting and place them to the side for use in cooking or potpourri. Take the edge of your knife and gently scrape away some of the skin on the bottom of the cutting. This focuses your cutting’s attention on this area and encourages it to put out roots. There are rooting hormones you can apply to the end of your cutting, but lavender typically does well enough without it.
Now you’re ready to stick your cutting into a container of soil or water, whichever is your preference. Make sure that the section of cutting without leaves is fully embedded and that your lavender is standing up straight. If you’re propagating in soil, you can check on root growth by gently pulling on the cutting every few days and feeling for resistance. Just be very careful not to pull too hard or too often, as this could damage the young roots.
Softwood cuttings can only be taken in spring when the growth is young and fresh. Hardwood cuttings can be taken anytime, typically in spring or fall. Try to take your cutting either before the plant puts out buds or after the flowers have already bloomed and died. Keep in mind that the warmer the month, the stronger the cutting will be. In general, spring or summer months are the best bets for your lavender cuttings.
If you’re taking cuttings from lavender and they keep dying, a few things might be happening. First, check on the soil. If it’s too dry or too consistently soaked, it’ll prohibit growth, so adjust your watering accordingly, and make sure that the water is kept consistently clean. If you rooted the cutting in water, just make sure to refresh the water often. The cuttings may also be getting too much direct sunlight. In this case, move them to a shadier location. Lastly, the cutting may just be too large. When propagating, you should make sure the cutting is no longer than four inches.
Lavender cuttings can be rooted in water very simply. Place your lavender cutting in a vase or other container of plain, room-temperature water. The vase should be half to three-quarters full. It is very important that none of the lavender’s leaves are touching the water. Wet leaves will rot, which is unpleasant for you and your plant.
You can use any container of water, as long as it is tall enough to support your cuttings. Keep an eye on the water level and replenish it when necessary. Avoid getting the leaves wet when adding more water to your container. You can keep an eye on your roots and the water level more easily by using a clear container.
Cuttings rooted in water will start to put out roots more quickly than cuttings rooted in soil, but it’s important to wait until the roots are thick. Thicker roots have a higher likelihood of surviving the transition into soil.
Propagating lavender can be easy, fun, and productive. Now that you know the ins and outs of lavender cuttings, you can have a garden full of lavender, ready to sweeten your garden and your life!
- 2021 gift guide: Gifts for your favorite houseplant aficionado
- Real vs. fake Christmas trees: Which is friendlier to the environment?
- Make sure your lemon tree doesn’t suffer this winter. How to care for it
- Grow cold-hardy veggies in an unheated greenhouse this winter. Here’s how
- Plant of the week: Amaryllis, a festive, flowering bulb