Growing lavender from cuttings is not difficult and has several benefits. You know exactly which kind of lavender you’re getting, since it’s a clone of the ‘mother plant’ – no surprises! You can take several cuttings from one plant in a season to maximize your lavender garden very inexpensively. And more, you’ve learned a skill that you can apply to many other plants in your garden.
In fact, most lavender you buy commercially comes from cuttings. If they can do it, so can you!
You will need to gather the following items:
1) a seed tray, or several small pots – somewhere for you to plant the cuttings
2) clear plastic bags or saran wrap
3) seed starting mix
4) rooting hormone
5) CLEAN, sharp pruning shears. It is very important they be clean. Instructions on how to properly clean your garden tools can be found here.
We recommend taking cuttings in the spring, as that is when the plant is growing (so the cuttings will root/grow better). If possible choose a cloudy day so as to keep the cuttings from drying out too quickly before they’re replanted.
Prepare your pots and soil. You’ll want to water the seed mix thoroughly before you begin the cutting process. We also recommend preparing the pots and planting the cuttings on a garden bench or table, rather than right there in your garden, as that will prevent fungi, mold and other normal inhabitants of your garden from crossing into your new cuttings and compromising their strength/quality. If you choose to use your kitchen as your work area, please clean it very thoroughly after you are finished! There are microbes and parasites that naturally occur in soil that can make you and your loved ones sick.
On your ‘mother plant’, locate a branch that is anywhere between 5-8 inches in length. Examine the branch closely to see where the green part of the stem starts to turn woody. You’ll want to cut the branch just before the woody section. If after you’ve cut the branch you see that you still have a brown/woody end on it, you can trim that off. You should be left with a cutting that is approx. 4-5″ in length. If it’s longer that is OK but we don’t recommend anything shorter than 4″ or so. If there are any flowers on the tip, pinch or cut those off too. The flowers will take too much energy from the cutting, leaving none for the rooting process. If you must take cuttings on a sunny day or plan to take numerous cuttings from your plants, you can use a wet paper towel or newspaper in which to wrap the first cuttings as you gather more. Place those cuttings in a Ziploc or other plastic bag and try to keep moist and cool until you are ready to root them.
Trim the leaves off the bottom 2-3″ of the plant and dip into the rooting powder.
Make a hole in the tray or pot you will plant it in. Try to plant only 1 cutting per pot. Then gently set the plant into the hole and press the soil in and around the stem. This will keep the rooting hormone on the stem, as well as provide good means of transferring nutrients and water to the new cutting. Plant deeply, so only about 1-2″ inch is above ground. Cut a few holes in a clear plastic bag and place over the new cutting. Repeat for all cuttings you gathered. If possible, leave your cuttings in a cool (but not cold!) and shady spot, away from heat and drafts. It is critical to keep the cuttings moist and so that is your main concern with the location of your pots. Check on your cuttings every 2 or 3 days to ensure they are properly moist. If you have used the bags over them, they should not need water for the first few weeks and that is about how long it takes for the cuttings to produce roots.
You can tell that the cuttings have begun to root when you see new growth on the top of the cutting (usually a very light green color). Celebrate, but do not yet move them to the garden. They need more time to harden up. If you had them inside, bring them outside in the shade, away from a windy spot – or just wait another month or so in their original location, and they should be ready for your garden.
One mistake folks (myself included!) often make is to plant the cuttings WAY too close together in the garden. After all, they look so tiny at first! But remember that this little cutting will grow into a large plant, and you don’t really want to spend time/energy moving a large perennial like this. Nor do you want to leave them crowded where they could develop mold or mildew. So space out your new lavender cuttings and you can enjoy them for years to come.