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Propagating Lavender: 3 Methods To Use

Lavender is one of the most popular flowers to grow in an ornamental or medicinal garden. If you are growing it, then you will be interested to know that propagating lavender is an easy task while also being economical and fun. 

This article will focus on how to propagate lavender from cuttings, air layering, and seed. You can accomplish these methods with minimal tools and in a short amount of time. Then, with a little care and attention, you will have new lavender plants to add to your garden. We won’t discuss propagation by division for now; it is a difficult method as the thick roots of the mature lavender plants don’t tolerate being divided. 

One thing to keep in mind before you propagate lavender is to find out if the plant you own has a patent in place. It is against the law to propagate and sell plants that are patented. Most home gardeners are rooting plants for their own use, so this is less of a concern for many. However, it is good to know and respect plant propagation laws because they are in place to protect the one who invented that particular variety of plant. 

Let’s begin by exploring the definition of plant propagation, and then go over these methods so you can decide which one is right for you. Perhaps you will learn of a new way to propagate lavender that you haven’t tried before and become inspired to try something new!

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What Is Plant Propagation?

Propagating lavender
Propagating lavender from the foliage as cuttings is easy. Source: l.i.l.l.i.a.n

The most basic definition of plant propagation is the creation of a new plant either by growing from seeds, taking cuttings from a mature plant, air layering to develop a new plant, and/or dividing an existing plant. Each technique has its advantages and disadvantages, but we provide tips to help you get a feel for each one. There are some plants that are easier to propagate than others, but fortunately, lavender is one of the easiest to propagate from cuttings. 

Propagating plants from your garden is a straightforward process, though some methods will take longer than others, so it’s wise to always plan ahead so you are prepared. Always choose healthy plants with an established root system. It’s also good to know that there are two forms of plant propagation: sexual and asexual. 

Sexual propagation is growing a plant from seed and providing light, water, soil, and oxygen. This method takes more patience and time, as well as additional tools and supplies compared to the others. 

Asexual propagation is starting plants from cuttings, layering, or by dividing from a mature plant already in your garden. Many gardeners use the asexual method but you can find which one works best for you. Let’s get further into the methods we recommend for propagating lavender. 

Methods For Propagating Lavender

Let’s go over each propagation method. We’ll start with how to grow lavender from seed, but then will go into how to propagate lavender from cuttings. Finally, we’ll discuss how to grow a new lavender plant by air layering.

How To Propagate Lavender From Seed

Late summer is the best time to start lavender from seed. They should be ready to plant in the garden by early spring. This planting method takes the longest to develop a new plant, but one benefit is that you can start many at one time.  

Materials needed: 

  • Seed starting tray with seed starting mix or a small pot filled with soil and compost
  • Clear cover for the tray or pot
  • Lavender seeds
  • Water bottle with mist nozzle
  • Grow light (optional)
  • Seedling heating mat (optional)

Step 1: Moisten the soil in the seed starting tray (or pot if using). Lavender seeds germinate best after a cold stratification (mimicking winter dormancy) period of 4 to 6 weeks. Place 2-3 seeds per pot, or every 2 inches on the tray, and barely cover with soil. 

Step 2: Lightly mist the soil with water and place the clear lid over the tray to provide a greenhouse effect. If starting in pots, you can use a piece of plastic wrap or a bag instead of a rigid lid. All this does is trap warmth and moisture to provide an ideal growing environment. Make sure to support any flexible plastic with stakes or even a few chopsticks so that it stays off the soil’s surface.

Step 3: Put the tray under a grow light with a heating mat for the best results. If you don’t have a light or heating mat, you can place the seedlings in a warm area that gets plenty of sunlight. 

Step 4: Lavender seeds need to be at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit and kept moist to germinate. It’s also not uncommon for them to take up to one month to germinate, so this requires patience. Once they have germinated, you can remove the clear cover. 

Step 5: When the seedlings have several leaves, transplant them to individual pots, and continue to water them regularly. Allow one to three months until new plants are large enough to be transplanted outside in your garden.

Step 6: Make sure the danger of frost has passed before placing them outside, and gradually harden the plants off to outdoor conditions. When they’ve acclimated, transplanting to a garden bed or potting them up in pots is fun and rewarding.

Lavender flowers starting to set seed
Lavender flowers beginning to set seed. Source: Thor Edvardsen

Starting Lavender Cuttings In Water

The best time to take cuttings is in the spring, but you can do this procedure in the fall as long as you’re willing to protect the plants indoors throughout the winter months. Either way, choose cuttings that don’t have any flowers. Cuttings should be at least 3-4 inches in length and should be vigorous. 

Materials needed: 

  • Pruning shears or sharp scissors
  • Mature lavender plants
  • Jar or cup of water

Step 1: Examine the stems on your mature lavender plant. To propagate lavender from cuttings, select a long stem and search to locate where old growth transitions into new green material. Old growth (also known as hardwood) is dark brown and new growth (soft wood) will be light green.

For softwood cuttings, take your pruning shears and cut where the old growth ends and the new soft growth meets. For hardwood cuttings, cut just below a leaf node. It is a good idea when taking lavender from cuttings to start more than you need, just in case some don’t root. 

Step 2: Fill the container with clean water and remove the lower ⅓ of the leaves on your lavender cuttings. Leave tip leaves intact so that they can photosynthesize.

Step 3: Set the cutting in the water, keeping the remaining leaves dry and above the water’s surface. Wet leaves may soften and begin to rot. Place the cuttings in a warm area that receives sunlight or indirect bright lighting, but where it won’t get too hot.

Step 4: Replace the water daily with fresh water and watch for signs of new roots growing from the nodes. It will take approximately 2-4 weeks to form roots in softwood cuttings and 4-6 weeks for the hardwood cuttings. 

Step 5: Once the lavender plants have rooted, they are ready to transfer to a larger container with a mix of compost and potting soil. If the weather is warm and you’ve hardened them off, they can be planted directly outside. Otherwise, placing them in your greenhouse until the weather warms is best. 

Rooting Lavender Cuttings In Potting Soil

Take cuttings from healthy, straight stems and use clean tools to prevent risk of contamination to your new plant. Amend your garden soil with compost before planting the new lavender outside. 

Materials needed: 

  • Pruning shears or sharp knife
  • Mature lavender plant
  • 4-inch pot filled with compost and potting soil
  • Water
  • Rooting hormone powder (optional)
  • Plastic bag or clear plastic bottle (optional)

Step 1: Take cuttings the same way as described for lavender cuttings in water. 

Step 2: Remove the lower leaves ⅓ of the way up the stem. This is the portion you will place in the soil. Pre-moisten your potting medium and use a dibber or pencil to make holes. Dampen the ends of the cuttings, then dip the stem into the hormone powder (if using) and gently place the stem into the readied pot. Gently tamp down the soil around the stem.

Step 3: Place the pots in a warm area that receives indirect sunlight during the day. Water when the soil is dry. Also, you can cover your cuttings with a plastic bag or clear bottle to help keep your cuttings warm, humid, and the soil moist. 

Step 4: Root formation takes about the same amount of time as when you start a cutting in water. Test root formation after new leaves appear by very gently tugging on the cuttings. If there is resistance, then roots have formed. Once the lavender plants have roots, they are ready to transfer to a larger pot or plant outside. 

Lavender Propagation By Air-Layering

This propagating method is the easiest, but you have to get it finished before winter. Using rooting hormones will help speed up the process, but it isn’t necessary. 

Materials you’ll need: 

  • Mature lavender plants
  • Sanitized razor blade or exacto knife
  • Rooting hormone (optional)
  • Small rock or garden staple

Select a healthy lavender plant in your garden. Identify low-growing stems without a flower that are at least 4 inches long, and remove the leaves from the middle section of the stems. Do not cut these free from the parent plant; they should remain attached.

With the razor blade or knife, make a shallow cut on the underside of each of the stems you will be air-layering. Take care to not cut all the way through the stem. Apply rooting hormone to the cut (if using) and then bury the wounded portion of the stems 1-2 inches deep in the soil. 

To keep buried stems in place, put a stone on them or secure them with a garden staple. Keep the stems watered, but take care not to overwater while the roots are growing. 

Allow 6-8 weeks for the roots to establish and then you can cut each young plant away from its parent plant. Transplant the new plants to another spot in your garden. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Lavender flower spike
Avoid using the lavender flower spike for propagation. Source: Margaret Bourne

Q: What month do you take lavender cuttings?

A: It depends on what type of lavender cuttings you will be using. If you are taking cuttings from green softwood, then the best time is early spring before your lavender plants bloom. If using old-growth lavender cuttings, collect these in the fall before your plants go dormant for the winter. 

Q: Why do my lavender cuttings keep dying?

A: There could be a few things contributing to your lavender cuttings dying. The soil could be too dry or too wet; cuttings in soil need enough water to root, but the soil also needs to have good drainage to prevent the root from rotting. 

Too much sun and heat can also kill your sensitive cuttings, so it’s best to place them in indirect light and mist them with fresh water several times per day. Finally, if rooting cuttings in water, make sure you change the water frequently to keep it fresh and prevent root rot.


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