Lavender is an evergreen shrub prized for its purple blooms and fragrant scent, and it is commonly used in bouquets, sachets, perfume, and even cooking. Many varieties and hybrids have been cultivated in recent years to provide consumers with numerous choices of flower color, bloom time, and height at maturity. Once you have your favorite types of lavender flourishing in your garden, however, you may run into a situation where they will need to be moved. Transplanting these flowers requires a certain amount of attention, so read on for advice that can make this project a success.
Step 1 - Choose When to Transplant
The good news is that lavender can be successfully transplanted in either fall, for areas without hard winters, or spring. However, don’t expect it to bloom very much during the first summer following transplanting, as it takes time for the plants to re-establish themselves in their new surroundings.
Step 2 - Prepare Soil
Before transplanting, prep the soil in the new garden location. Add a mixture (about one cup each) of bone meal and well-balanced compost. Or, for clay soils, incorporate composted organic matter to help improve drainage. Lavender plants are very susceptible to root rot and do not tolerate wet, soggy soils.
Tip: Know your soil. Have a test done before transplanting. Lavender grows best in well-drained, sandy loam soils, with a pH between six and eight.
Step 3 - Prepare Plants
Thoroughly water the lavender plants before you move it. Then, trim off any dead or damaged branches and all flowers, and cut back the roots as the plant is dug up. If it is rangy, tall, or spindly, cut it back to encourage rapid growth, but prune only the active areas. Lavender rarely sends out new growth from old woody branches.
Tip: When digging lavender, form a nice root ball by inserting the shovel all the way around the plant before lifting the plant from the soil. Try to keep as much soil on the roots as possible and the root ball undisturbed, to minimize transplant shock.
Step 4 - Plant in new Location
Set the lavender plant in a freshly-dug hole that’s as deep as the one it came from and twice as wide. Make sure the plant at the same soil level or slightly above as well since planting the lavender too deeply reduces the survival rate. Then, fill soil around the plant and firm the base.
Water the lavender plant thoroughly once it's in the ground. While lavender is generally drought-tolerant, this does not apply to newly-transplanted plants. This is especially true in areas with heavy, drying winds. Without sufficient moisture, the transplanted lavender will quickly dehydrate and die, so in the days and weeks following the move, water regularly. This will increase the number of spikes and stem length, as well as help to minimize summer stress.
As for the type of irrigation, trickle or drip is best. Overhead watering encourages fungal and bacterial disease.
Step 5 - Take Special Care During First Summer
Be diligent and cut off lavender spikes during the first summer following transplanting. This is necessary to divert the plant’s energy into foliage and root production instead of flowers. Don’t worry. The flowers will be even better the second summer. In addition, it’s best to pinch off tips of stems or strong leaders. Again, this will help jump-start the lavender into branching out.
Step 6 - Prune
The first fall after transplanting, prune the lavender back to about 2/3 of its current size, leaving about two inches of green leaves above the woody stems. Some home gardeners worry that this pruning is too severe, but it actually helps lavender growth better the following spring.