Who doesn’t love free plants? Well, that’s exactly what propagating gets you.
Most people think of planting seeds when it comes to propagation, but in the case of lavender it’s a little more complicated than that. First of all, some lavenders don’t produce seeds. Lavandula x intermedia is a hybrid species, and it does not produce seeds, so the only way to propagate this kind of lavender is through cuttings. Although angustifolias do produce seeds, those seeds can’t be counted on to produce the same qualities as the parent plant. Seeding is also a slower and less reliable method than propagating from cuttings. So all of the lavender farmers I know propagate using cuttings. It’s actually quite easy since lavender takes very well to propagating from cuttings and creates an identical plant to that of the parent plant.
Propagation can be done in the Autumn (for Springtime planting) or in Spring (for planting in Autumn). I prefer the former because Springtime planting means that those baby plants don’t have to contend with winter weather as they are just starting out in the ground. Though I’ve also known farmers who swear by planting in the Fall so the baby plants don’t have to contend with summer heat. So I guess it comes down to personal preference.
Propagating is actually a pretty easy process. Here’s how I do it:
First I set up my seedling trays, filling the cells with a seeding mixture. Then I water the mixture well so that once I insert the cuttings, they are in a nice secure space with minimal jostling.
Next, I find a nice healthy plant out in the field and cut off a few branches. Lavender can be propagated from either soft cuttings or woody cuttings. Soft cuttings come from that part of the plant where the stem is a little bit greener and softer. A woody cutting is just as it sounds -- the browner, stiffer part of the stem.
Next, I bring the branches to my potting table and look for a 2-3 inch healthy looking side stem. I break it off of the branch and then strip the bottom 1 inch of leaves. Using an exacto knife, I then slice the bottom stem at an extreme angle so that it’s looking pretty pointy. Some farmers then dip the stem into rooting hormone and some do not. The rooting hormone helps prevent rot and promotes quicker root growth, but lavender does take well to propagation without root hormone. I usually use rooting hormone, just to get those roots off to a quick start. Once all of the stems have been planted, I water again and continue to water and mist every day for the next few months. I'm very lucky to have a greenhouse where I can keep the plants at a consistent 70-75) -- but if you don't, a heating mat will help the plant to take root.
Once I see roots just coming out of the bottom of the cell, I transplant the new plants to a slightly bigger pot. To do that, I gently pull the lavender seedling out of its cell and plant into a 3-4 inch pot filled with planting soil, watering well once I’m done.
After a few weeks, the plants will start getting bushier. There are usually quite a few plants that get a little too enthusiastic and start sending up blooms. As painful as it is to do so, I snip those blooms off so that the plant’s energy is directed to its roots. Once the plant has started to fill out more and the roots have spread out in the pot, it’s time to plant into the field. I usually take the tray of plants out to a protected area of the field and let them get acclimatized before I transplant them.
And there you have it! Free plants!
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife, English teacher, writer, and lavender farmer who lives in Dundee Oregon .