1219 Morris Dr., Niles, MI



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Lavender Winter Damage: Repair or Renovate?

Posted 5/16/2014 10:19pm by Martha O. Wilczynski.

Lavender Hill Farm of Niles, Michigan  LLC

1219 Morris Dr., Niles, MI  49120,  269-684-0123

Well, now that it's mid-May and the lavender should be greening up, it's time to take stock of which lavender plants made it through the winter ok, which require removal of winter-killed branches, and which should just be considered a loss and pulled out.  

No doubt this past winter was a hard one for lavender due to the unusual, extremely low temperatures.  Though snow cover offers some insulation against extreme cold, melting and thawing can leave portions of plants unprotected, and long durations of extreme cold will eventually take their toll. The amount of damage may vary depending on the species and variety, or by location in the landscape, or other factors such as soil type.  It can be hard to sort these issues out if you only have one or two plants, if you have lots of each variety, as we do, you start to see patterns.  

 end row of lavender winter-killed'Super' lavandin with minor damage'Super' lavandin with major damageNew leaves sprouting inside plants

Plants that are exposed to drying winter winds can experience more winter damage than those in more protected locations. Note in the left photo above, the outside row of 'Super' lavendin shows more winter damage than those in the interior rows.  We also noticed that the south side of many of our plants experienced more damage this winter, possibly because the sun melted the protective covering of snow on the south side of the plants first, while the north side remained protected longer.

When faced with winter damage, it is important to assess the amount of damage along with the age of the plant when deciding a course of action.  

The second photo above shows a relatively young 'Super'plant that has been well maintained, with fairly minor winter damage. Recommendation: give the plant time to sprout new leaves on leafless stems, removing dead leaves by mid-May to allow light to penetrate to the interior of the plant. Any branches with no new sprouts by late May may be removed.  

The third plant from the left above shows a relatively young plant with severe winter injury. Only the bottom row of branches shows any green. This plant could be pruned back severely, leaving the green branches. It will not bloom this year, but likely will have at least some bloom next year. 

The fourth photo above, shows a mature (8- 10 yr old) 'Imperial Gem' English lavender plant that was pruned this spring, removing the dried up leaves. The plant is producing significant new growth in the middle of the plant. This plant may produce a light bloom this year.

Old "Provence' plants

The above photo shows a row of mature 'Provence' lavender plants with significant winter damage throughout the plants. Some green branches remain, but the plants would require removal so many branches that they would be disfigured.  Because these plants are older, and have thicker woody stems, they are unlikely to fill in with new growth where dead branches are removed. Therefore it is advisable to remove these plants and replace them with young plants of a hardier variety. 


Hardiness depends on species and variety (genetics), care and age of plant.

Of our eight lavender varieties, 'Folgate' English lavender proved the hardiest this year. Indeed all of our English lavenders proved to be hardier than the hybrid lavandins in our field. Younger plants tended to be hardier than older plants.  But well-pruned older plants fared better than plants that were not kept compact by proper pruning.   

If you have questions about pruning and want to see the field in person, stop out this Saturday, May 17th, or Friday May 23rd during our open hours 10 am to 4 pm to view the field and talk to me. 



Yours in lavender,



Copyright Lavender Hill Farm of Niles, MI  LLC , 2014