Have I killed my Munstead Lavender plant?

Asked May 15, 2020, 11:23 AM EDT

Is there any hope? Last Fall we neglected to prune this guy back. It's spring now and here is how he's looking after taking off the dead wood. I don't see anything green when I try to peer into the middle of the root ball. Is there any hope he can still live? Thank you!

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Try leaving it for a few more weeks outside to see if anything green turns up, if not then you’ll probably have better luck starting out with a new plant for next year.

Pruning lavender can be a little tricky sometimes—for spring pruning, you’ll usually want to wait until you see some new green leaves pop up from the bottom of the plant, mostly so you can tell which stems were dormant vs dead. You can also tell if a stalk is dead by doing a scratch test, scratching a little bit of the top layer off with your fingernail. If what you uncover is white or green, the stalk is still alive. If it’s brown, it is dead and should be pruned. And while woody formation isn’t desirable for lavender, be careful pruning the old wood as they don’t always regenerate like with other perennials—you’ll usually want to focus your pruning on the areas above the old wood.

For more information, here’s an interesting article about growing and caring for lavender from our blog last year:
https://blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2019/02/good-lavenders-for-north.html

Wish you luck with your plants