Instructions on how to propagate lavender from cuttings. Works for all types of lavender and cuttings from new or semi-hardwood. Full DIY video at the end.
Lavender is a useful and beautiful plant for any garden, making it no wonder that so many of us want to grow it. You can use the lavender buds to make skincare, sachets for your clothing, or sprinkle them into cookies. When they’re in bloom they’ll draw bees and other insects from far and wide. On a strictly ornamental level, they create stunning hedges and low-maintenance architectural plants.
Buying a few decent sized lavender plants will set you back a fair amount though. A fiver apiece will rack up quite the bill if you need ten, twenty, or more plants. Fortunately, there’s a way to create your own lavender plants for practically nothing. All you’ll need is an established lavender plant, time, and patience. Propagating lavender from cuttings is also fairly easy to do and you can use the same method for other plants like rosemary. Just one plant can give you dozens more for free.
New plants can grow from stem cuttings
Taking cuttings is basically snipping a piece of an existing plant and letting it grow its own roots. The small plants that result are clones of the parent plant and will produce the exact same foliage and flowers. It’s a non-obtrusive method of propagation and you can use it every year to increase your plants.
Soft-wood is the new fresh growth that plants put on in spring. Each sprig of soft-wood can either be left on the shrub to increase its own size or it can be taken off and used to root a brand new plant. Early on in the spring some of the new green growth might be a bit short but you can also use older wood that the new leaves are growing from. This older stem is called ripe wood and will readily grow roots providing that you cut it in the right place and apply a rooting hormone.
Step 1: Taking Cuttings
Cut a stem from your plant. Starting from the top, use a very sharp knife cut 4-6″ long sections just below a leaf node. A leaf node is any place along the stem where the joints of leaves grow from. See what this means in the above photo. If the stem is long enough, you can create multiple cuttings from it.
Using scissors is not a good idea for this step either, in case you had it in mind. They pinch the stem as they cut and partially close the stem, making rooting difficult. Please also keep track of which end was the top end and which was the bottom. You need to plant the pieces into the soil in the same direction the plant was growing. If it’s planted upside down, the cutting won’t take.
Step 2: Trim the leaves
Using that same knife trim all but the top bunch of leaves from the stem. You need a few leaves to feed the plant but too many forces the plant to direct energy and food to the leaves. You want them to focus on the business of putting down roots.
Step 3: Prepare the pot and compost
Fill a pot with free-draining compost such as two parts ordinary compost mixed with one part perlite or grit. If you use ordinary compost with no added drainage material then it can tend to be too wet for the cuttings to thrive. They need moisture, but they prefer to have it drain away quickly too.
Terracotta pots are a bit better than plastic pots since terracotta can breathe, whereas air and water can’t pass through plastic. This breathe-ability creates better conditions for rooting and can also reduce the chance of fungal attacks. And if you’re able to soak the terracotta pots in water overnight, all the better.
Step 4: Planting
Though some people don’t use it, I like to use a substance to help stimulate the cutting to grow roots. Dip the bottom 3/4 inch (2 cm) of the stem into rooting hormone and then plant the cutting in compost. Use a pencil or small dibber to make a hole in the compost just at the edge of the pot. Bury the cutting all the way to the leaves, and space the next one at least a half-inch away. Firm the compost around the cuttings.
Once your pot is filled, give it a good but gentle watering and place a plastic bag on top. A clear drinks bottle with the bottom cut off will work too. This serves as a mini-greenhouse and helps keep the compost and cuttings warm and from drying out. If you plan on propagating a lot of cuttings, you might want to invest in a plant propagator.
Step 5: Rooting
Place your pots in a warm place with diffused or partial sunlight. If it’s too hot or the light too direct your cuttings can wilt and suffer. Rooting will take place within the next month to eight weeks. Keep the compost moist and after a couple of weeks begin checking the drainage hole for signs of roots. If any of the cuttings wither or turn brown during this time, gently pull them out and dispose of them.
Step 6: Individual potting up
Potting up happens after both roots are visible from the drainage hole and new leaves are beginning to form. Gently remove the new plants from the compost and pot them up into individual 3″ pots. If you’re using small pots to propagate lavender cuttings in, you may need to gently up-end it.
The new lavender plants need to be planted into compost that holds a little more water than before. Mix one part perlite or grit to 3 or 4 parts compost. Plant them up to the same place they were in the propagating pot.
Step 7: Planting your new lavender
Grow the plants on until plenty of new leaves have filled out and the plant has bushed out a bit. This could take several weeks to a couple of months and a nice sheltered place with plenty of sun is best. Over-winter them undercover, such as in a greenhouse or cold frame, and plant them outside the following spring. Research the final size of the lavender variety you’re growing and spacing to know how to plant them.
Lavender prefers free-draining soil that has a neutral to alkaline pH. If you have acidic clay soil, you should consider working garden lime and grit into the planting site the autumn before. For more tips on growing and caring for lavender, head over here.
You can propagate more than Lavender
Propagating your own plants from cuttings is a rewarding experience. It’s very easy to do and once you’ve propagated one plant you’ll know how to propagate others. Patience is always key when it comes to nurturing any living thing. Those weeks of waiting for your plants to grow will pay out dividends in the garden. Here are more ideas for creating your own plants for free
- How to propagate Tomatoes from Cuttings
- How to propagate Rosemary
- Tips on how to propagate Rose-Scented Geraniums
- Plants for free: How to propagate soft-fruit bushes