Save money and learn how to grow lavender from cuttings

Discover how to propagate new plants for free.

Lavender is a favourite garden staple that has an irresistible scent. Its trusty nature makes it an easy plant to propagate for novice and experienced gardeners alike.

Part of the enjoyment in taking cuttings is seeing nature evolve and your nurture rewarded with a new homegrown plant for free. So, with top tips from a gardening expert, we take you through the step-by-step process of how to grow lavender from cuttings.

Lavender cuttings with secateurs and terracotta potCredit: Shutterstock/viki2win
Taking cuttings provides you with homegrown plants for free

Why take lavender cuttings?

Spread the lavender love

Taking cuttings can help grow your own plant stocks and those of your friends and family. It’s also a good way to replenish older lavender plants that have become leggy and woody without having an expensive trip to the garden centre. And there’s a real reward in seeing your own cuttings come to life and grow into fully-fledged plants.

When is the best time to propagate lavender?

Mid-to-late summer is ideal

The perfect time to take lavender cuttings is during the plant’s growing season, making June through to September the key time to get snipping.

Guy Barter, chief horticulturist at the RHS, says: “Lavender is remarkably easy to propagate in spring, summer and early autumn but, on balance, the easiest period is early summer. However, early autumn cuttings are also effective and are usually rooted over winter in coldframes or under cloches. Even an improvised cloche of polythene and clothes hanger wire will work.”

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Taking a lavender cutting – the kit you’ll need

Gather together the right tools for the task

  • a lavender plant
  • secateurs or cutting knife
  • 10cm pot
  • knife
  • peat-free potting compost
  • horticultural grit
  • dibber or pencil
  • clear plastic bag or propagator
Take your cuttings from healthy lavender plantsCredit: Shutterstock/amberto4ka
Take your cuttings from healthy lavender plants

1. You can take a cutting from both young and established plants

Make sure the plant is hale and hearty

Whether you’ve got young or established lavender plants, Barter says it’s possible to take cuttings from both. “People often trim their young plants for cuttings, which has the important side effect of encouraging bushier growth.

“However, older plants, which produce sturdy non-flowering shoots, are also good sources. It is more challenging to find good material on weak plants in their dotage, so be sure to propagate older plants while they remain.”

2. Prepare your pots

Get the compost mix right

Fill a small pot, about 10cm (3in) in size, with a mix of equal parts peat-free potting compost and horticultural grit. The grit will help drainage and avoid the cuttings getting waterlogged.

In the past, my lavender cuttings have suffered – a result of being over-zealous with watering and potting them in compost with insufficient drainage. The result? They were relegated to the compost heap.

3. Use a clean and sharp cutting tool

Gain a healthy and clean cut

To ensure you get a clean cut when taking your cutting, check that your secateurs or cutting knife are sharp. Gaining a good clean cut, rather than a jagged tear, will give you the best chance of success.

At the same time, give your secateurs a good clean. This will prevent any diseases from previous plants being passed on to your lavender.

Remember to remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cuttingCredit: Shutterstock/Radovan1
Remember to remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting

4. Take your cuttings

Choose non-flowering shoots

Barter suggests taking cuttings in the morning “while they are full of water”, before they’ve had a chance to dry out, and then placing them in a plastic bag. “Choose new non-flowering shoots around 5-10cm (2-4in) long.

“Remove leaves from the lower half of the stem and cut to a leaf node using a very sharp knife. Then, using a dibber (or a pencil will do), insert the cuttings into a pot. Only insert them deep enough so they don’t loll about and be careful not to crowd them.”

The leaves remaining on the top part of the cutting will absorb the sun’s energy, which will help root growth.

“Arranging the cuttings around the edge of a small pot is a good way to ensure they have space,” adds Barter. “Then water lightly to settle the plants and cover them and place them in a lightly shaded spot.”

Always cut diagonally

When taking a cutting, it’s advisable to make a diagonal cut. This creates a bigger surface area for the cutting to absorb water.

5. Keep your cuttings covered

Give your cuttings heat

Why is it necessary to keep the cuttings covered? “It is essential to cover the cuttings for best results, says Barter, “and it does not matter if it’s a plastic bag or a propagator.” Why? Because a plastic bag or propagator will provide a humid climate for your cuttings that will encourage the roots to grow.

He also suggests that if taking cutting in the spring, they can benefit from heat from beneath, although this is not necessary in summer.

6. Leave your cuttings to take root

How long it takes depends on the time of year

“Cuttings taken in September and October might not root until May, but spring and summer cuttings may root in as little as four weeks when they can be gradually uncovered,” advises Barter. “Leave them until spring before potting-up and, in summer, feed with liquid fertiliser.”

Not sure if your cuttings are rooting?

You can test if the cutting’s roots are established by gently holding it at its base and pulling it. If you can feel resistance, the roots have established.

Lavender seedlings planted in individual potsCredit: Shutterstock/Mind Pro Studio
Once established, your cuttings can be potted on into individual pots

6. Transfer your seedlings to a new pot

Potting on will give them more room to grow

Once the cutting is ready to pot on, gently tip the pot on its side and remove the cutting, trying not to disturb the roots. It can then be replanted individually. Leave it in its new pot for a couple of weeks, then move it outside on sunny days to help harden it off. This process helps the plant to acclimatise to the change in temperature and conditions before it is planted outside permanently.

Then, after a couple of weeks of hardening off, the new plants can join your other lavenders in your garden.

Camilla Sharman

Written by Camilla Sharman she/her

Published:

With her 30 years of experience, Camilla Sharman has covered a wide range of sectors within the business and consumer industries both as a feature, content, and freelance writer.  As a business journalist, Camilla has researched articles for many different sectors from the jewellery industry to finance and tech, charities, and the arts. Whatever she’s covered, she enjoys delving deep and learning the ins and out of different topics, then conveying her research within engaging content that informs the reader.