How to split lavender?

In the Garden

Q: Is it possible to transplant half of a lavender plant gone huge? I am hoping to split it down the middle and move half to another location in my garden

A: It’s fairly easy to transplant a lavender plant, but you can’t divide them. Lavenders are woody shrubs and if you split one down the middle, it will die.

The best time to move lavender is in late winter and early spring. It can be done now, but you’ll have to watch the watering. Before you decide to do it, take a good look at the base. Most of the faster-growing lavenders tend to develop unattractive bare stems at the base.

Although some experts recommend cutting them back to about a half-inch from the ground to encourage them to branch out anew, my own experiments have taught me that most lavenders are short-lived after such hard pruning.

If your lavender has bare stems, consider buying a new one. Lavenders are relatively inexpensive. Consider planting a dwarf variety, as they don’t only stay much smaller, they also are much slower to form bare stems.

Two outstanding dwarf English lavenders are Lavandula angustifolia ‘Thumbelina Leigh,’ with dark blue flowers and blue-green foliage, and Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote,’ featuring unbelievably fragrant navy-purple wands, and highly ornamental silver leaves.

Every spring, shear your lavender back to within a half-inch of bare wood. That will help increase blooming while significantly slowing the development of bare stems at the base.

Q: I am preparing my vegetable garden right now, and one crop I have never tried is soybeans. Is it possible to grow them here?

A: Territorial Seed Company in Oregon offers a variety of these beans (known as edamame) called ‘Midori Giant’ that is rich in protein, fiber, calcium and vitamin A and B, and is especially well-suited to our short growing season.

Wait to sow directly into the garden until about mid-June when soil temperatures reach 65 degrees. Sow the seeds 4 inches apart and 1 inch deep in premoistened soil. Thinning and staking are not required.

As is true of all beans, overfeeding of nitrogen fertilizer will encourage foliage growth at the expense of pod set. Work a cup of a balanced organic-vegetable food per 10-row feet. All beans are shallow-rooted, so mulch with compost and make sure the soil remains evenly moist, especially during hot weather.

Edamame beans tend to ripen up over a short period, and the beans lose their flavor if you wait too long to harvest. They’re ready to pick as soon as the pods are plump and the beans are almost touching each other in the pod.

For a mind-boggling taste treat, boil the beans in a large pot of water with about 2 tablespoons of salt for 3 to 4 minutes, until they soften. Squeeze beans from the inedible pod directly into your mouth. Indescribably delicious served with beer.

Ciscoe Morris: [email protected] “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.

Propagating Herbs

Angus Stewart

ANGUS STEWART: Herbs are some of the easiest and toughest plants to grow and there’s no reason why gardeners can’t propagate their own. Today, I’m going to show you some really simple propagation methods for some of my favourite herbs.

Plants with either running or clumping root systems are best propagated by division, while woody perennials are most easily struck from stem cuttings and the leafy annual herbs – well, you just have to grow those from seed.

Let’s start with division. Clumping and running herbs include all the mints, such as this Chocolate Mint we’re going to divide today, Oregano, Chives and Thyme.

I’ve lifted this plant out of the garden with a spade and then it’s just a matter of taking a little clump off the edge of the parent and it’s ready to go. A plant this size will give me up to 20 new plants.

I’m going to put it into a pot because a lot of these herbs can be quite invasive. This Chinese Sage behind me is really running everywhere. A great tip is to put it into a pot on a hard surface – like pavers or some concrete, because it can even escape through the drainage holes into the garden if you let it. It’s then just a matter of watering it in.

The woody perennial herbs such as Lavender, Lemon Verbena and Lemon Myrtle, I prefer to propagate from stem cuttings and it’s a pretty straight forward process.

I’m preparing these Lavender cuttings and the first step is to decide how long you want the cutting to be and then cut just below a node. We next strip the foliage from the bottom of the cutting and you’ll notice I’m making the bottom quite long and that’s because I’m experimenting with a new technique that I call Long Stem Cuttings. Normally I probably would have made the cutting that long and put it in like that, but having a much longer cutting means you get a more extensive root system to take up water and nutrients which means your plant gets established much better.

The next step is to dip it in this hormone gel which encourages much better root formation and finally, into the pot. I’m dibbling a hole so that I don’t damage the cutting as I put it in. Once the pot’s full of cuttings, give it a really good water in and put it in a nice sheltered spot where it’s out of full sun. If conditions are quite hot, you could put a plastic bag over the top to keep the humidity up and after a couple of months, your plants will be ready to go into the garden.

Another plant that’s traditionally propagated by stem cuttings is Rosemary, but I’ve found an even easier method is a technique called ‘mound layering.’ When you’re cutting the plant all the time for the kitchen, it develops multiple stems and if you mound up around that with either potting mix or in this case well rotted sawdust, what happens is that at the base of the stems, roots start to develop, so it’s a bit like having a cutting, but it’s left on the plant. If you then just go in and snip that off, you’ve got a new plant and the final step is just to take a bit of that foliage off to reduce the water stress on the cutting and then it’s ready to go into a new pot or out into the garden.

For leafy annual herbs like Coriander and Basil – well they’re annuals that complete their whole life-cycle in a matter of months so the only feasible way to grow them is from seed. Now you can do them from seedlings, but to avoid transplant shock, it’s far better just to plant them from seed straight into their final position in the garden. Just push them in a few millimetres and plant each seed about 5 centimetres apart and then just water them in.

So there you go – all the propagation methods we’ve looked at today are incredibly easy to do in the home garden, very satisfying and before you know it, you’ll have fresh herbs for your kitchen table.

STEPHEN RYAN: And now to our design guru and the tale of two gardens. Here’s John.

Q: Is it possible to divide lavender plants?

—Link, Tamaqua

A: This is one of those “yes, but” answers.

While it is possible to divide lavender, it isn’t the only option or even the preferred option for propagating lavender. Also, all lavenders are not hardy in our area so be sure your lavender is winter-hardy before dividing it for planting in the garden as a perennial.

Seeds are not a good option since they are difficult to locate, slow to sprout and have a low germination rate. Also many lavenders are hybrids, crosses between two different parent lavenders. The resulting plants are often sterile or, if they produce viable seed, offer no guarantee that the offspring will resemble the parent plant.

Most lavender plants are grown from stem cuttings. Why? They root easily and the new plants are identical to the original plant.

Cuttings are best taken in the spring or autumn. Below is one process for doing cuttings:

•Cut green stems, 2 to 6 inches long, from the original plant.

•Remove all the lower leaves, leaving only the top few on the stem.

•Scuff or nick the bared portion of the stem and then treat with a rooting hormone.

•Place the cuttings in moist potting soil and place the container in a warm, sunny area. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Bottom heat, such as a heating mat, will encourage rooting.

•After about two to three weeks, the cuttings will have developed roots and can be grown on into new plants.

A third option is layering.

•Bend a young, green stem, still connected to the main plant, down to the ground.

•Pin the stem to the ground; a bent wire works well.

•Cover the spot where the stem comes in contact with the ground with a mound of soil.

•After a few months, the stem will have produced roots on the buried stem and can be cut away from the mother plant and relocated.

So, back to dividing lavender: The plants should be large and mature.

•Divide the original plant so that each section has an equal amount of roots.

•Remove any dead, damaged or thick woody growth.

•Bury the resulting plants at the same soil depth as the original.

•Water regularly but lightly until the new divisions are established.

While all these processes work, individual gardeners develop their own methods. Some don’t use rooting hormones; some use willow water to encourage root growth; others only take cuttings in the spring. These work for me but are hardly the only methods that work.

Planting and weather

Last weekend we had freeze and frost warnings. It perfectly illustrates my personal recommendation of waiting until Mother’s Day, at the earliest, to set out tender annuals and warm-season vegetables.

While I didn’t lose anything, I have found damage on the leaves of some hydrangeas.

Use the intervening time to acclimate your plants to the outside.

Seedlings have often not experienced direct sunlight, variable humidity or winds. Many annuals have been pampered in climate-controlled greenhouses. Hardening off your plants increases your chances for a successful season.

I have limited space for seed starting indoors so I avoid most of the hardening-off process by starting many of my seeds in trays outside.

My zucchini, Astia, a variety bred for container growing, is just sprouting, well behind those started indoors. I loose the advantage of an early start but by selecting shorter season varieties, I still manage to get mature plants in a reasonable time span.

Local garden events

•Catasauqua Garden Club: Annual Plant Sale 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Catasauqua Public Library (Third and Bridge streets, Catasaqua) Use the Bridge Street entrance to the library.

•Easton Garden Tour and Garden Fair: tour, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 12, begins at the College Hill Presbyterian Church (Broadhead and Monroe streets, Easton). It is sponsored by the College Hill Neighborhood Association. The garden fair, at the church grounds, features garden-themed gifts by local artists and crafters. Sue Kittek, garden columnist for The Morning Call, will present a lecture-demonstration on practical and whimsical container garden creations, 10:30 a.m. Fee ($20, $15 for advanced sale) for the tour; the fair and lecture are free. (www.gardentourofeaston.org/)

Sue Kittek is a freelance garden columnist, writer, and lecturer. Send questions to Garden Keeper at [email protected] or mail: Garden Keeper, The Morning Call, P.O. Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105.

This Week in the Garden

Start seeds for: Eggplant, summer squash, and winter squash, baby’s

breath, cosmos, and zinnias.

Direct sow: Celeric, celery, cabbage, carrots, collards, bunching onions, onion sets, parsnips and Swiss chard.

Follow your schedule for starting seeds. Check packets for instructions such as start indoors four weeks before last frost date.

Then, using a calendar, count back from your area’s date (April 10-15 for southern Lehigh Valley, May 10-15 for northern areas) for the appropriate starting time.

Plant or pot up summer bulbs and tubers such as dahlias, cannas, calla lilies, caladium.

Visit nurseries as they open for inspiration and new plants. Shop for spring bulbs.

Buy annuals for pots, window boxes and to fill in bare spots until perennials and shrubs grow to mature size.

•Lawns:

oApply broadleaf weed control in the lawn by the end of May.

oApply preemergent crabgrass control by mid May.

oDethatch lawns by mid May.

oApply spring lawn fertilizer treatments by mid June.

oComplete sod projects by the end of May to allow the grass to

establish before the heat of summer.

oSeed lawns now until mid-May.

•Clean pots, trays and other planting materials and equipment.

•Check spring power tools: mowers, tillers, blowers, and shredders.

Repair or replace damaged tools.

•Send winter snow removal equipment for seasonal tune-up or repair.

•As the weather warms, begin to ease out the hardiest of your wintering over plants. Start with a short hour or so on a nice day and increase daily until the plants are accustomed to the weather and nights are in the 50-degree range

•Check for ticks after every outing. Wear light colored clothing, long sleeves, hats and long pants when working in grassy areas or under overhanging branches.

•Continue to feed birds regularly and provide fresh water.

•Keep the garden free of standing water, breeding ponds for mosquitoes.

—Sue Kittek

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are one of my favorite herbs to grow, second only to lavender. And they are the very first plant I recommend to my friends who are new to gardening.

If you have yet to include this beloved herb in your garden, you are missing out on one of the most rewarding plants to grow, ever. I’m not exaggerating.

Functional and beautiful, I really can’t say enough about chives. They are, without question, one of the most versatile plants out there, a great fit for so many scenarios:

  • Do you need an easy to grow, hardy perennial?
  • Do you want to grow an herb garden, but aren’t sure where to start?
  • Are you interested in companion planting?
  • Do you want to grow edibles that require little effort?
  • Do you like the look of formal English gardens?
  • Are you hoping to attract more butterflies to your garden?
  • Do you have a shaded yard and less than ideal soil?

Well, keep reading…

This Flavorful Herb Is the Answer!

Chives fill all of these requirements, and more! I genuinely can’t come up with a single drawback of including them in your garden.

They’re beautiful, edible, and low maintenance. They’re also hardy perennials, and one of the first plants to break ground in late winter.

Their bright green leaves are a sure sign spring is near. Not to mention, pollinators love their showy white, lavender, pink, or purple flowers. And who doesn’t love attracting butterflies to their garden?

Not only do their flowers attract beneficial pollinators, according to Debbie Kirkpatrick, Kemper Horticulture Assistant at the Missouri Botanical Garden, these potent plants also have a reputation for repelling Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies.

Compact and less than 24 inches tall when mature, chives are well suited to create a formal edge. However, they are equally striking when clumped throughout a cottage style garden.

They work well in containers, and are also perfect for your kitchen windowsill. A relative of onions, they have a mild onion flavor and are great for use on omelets, salads, pizza, baked potatoes, and so much more – keep reading for some of our favorite recipe suggestions!

Something else that I love about this herb: the leaves aren’t the only part that’s edible.

Feel free to munch on the flowers as well. You can add them to any salad as a stunning, tasty garnish. And if you don’t plan to eat them, these flowers also make attractive additions to cut flower arrangements.

Best of all for those who are bothered by these common garden pests, perhaps put off by the oniony flavor, deer tend to leave A. schoenoprasum alone.

Are you convinced yet? Make room for chives in your garden this year, and you won’t regret it.

Here’s what’s ahead in this growing guide:

Keep reading to find out how to grow, care for, and harvest them at home.

Gardener, Meet Chives

Chives are a member of the onion (orAlliaceae) family and are native to Asia and Europe, where they have been used medicinally for centuries.

There is debate as to whether they are also native to North America, or merely naturalized here. Regardless, they have made themselves quite at home here.

These small, bulb-forming plants grow in clumps, which can easily be divided every two to four years.

Reaching heights between 12 and 24 inches, individual plants are low growing and compact, usually no more than 12 inches wide. Their narrow, hollow leaves are bright in color and they produce striking purple, feathery, round flowers in May or June.

Chives are hardy to zones 3 through 10, but can be overwintered indoors in colder areas. And they make an excellent companion to plantings of a variety of vegetables and herbs, from parsley and rhubarb to squash and nightshades (like eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers).

To overwinter, divide an already existing plant and pot it up in a small container (there’s more info on dividing plants below). You can let it grow on a south-facing windowsill through the winter, and plant it out again in the spring.

Another option for overwintering is to plant them in a container initially. When temperatures start dropping, move the container indoors.

Chives prefer full sun and rich, well-draining soil. However, they are tough and, in my experience, can tolerate as little as 4 hours of sunlight, as well as less than ideal soil.

Keep in mind that root rot is possible if soil is especially poor draining.

Now that you’re better acquainted, it’s time to start growing!

Getting Started

First things first – get your hands on some chives.

They are easy to divide, so start by asking around. A fellow gardener may have some in their garden, ready to be shared.

A young chive plant. Photo by Gretchen Heber. 3.5Kshares

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Photo by Gretchen Heber © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Hirt’s Seeds and True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: . With additional writing and editing by Gretchen Heber and Allison Sidhu.

About Amber Shidler

Amber Shidler lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a dual bachelor’s degree in botany and geography. For four years she worked as a horticulturist, but is now a stay-at-home mom. With experience in landscape design, installation, and maintenance she has set her sights on turning her tenth-of-an-acre lot into a productive oasis. Amber is passionate about all things gardening, especially growing and enjoying organic food.

Instructions on how to propagate lavender from cuttings. Works for all types of lavender and cuttings from new or semi-hard wood. 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 skin care, 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.

Lavender plants that I propagated from cuttings six years ago

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.

Cutting below a leaf node

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.

Rooting Hormone helps stem cuttings to form their own root systems

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.

Free-draining soil and terracotta pots are ideal for propagation

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.

Plastic bags act like mini-greenhouses

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.

Roots and new leaves will form on the cuttings within a couple months

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.

The new baby lavender plants are ready for the garden.

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 months and a nice sheltered place with plenty of sun is best. Over-winter them under cover, 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 prefer 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.

Lavender that I’ve planted to grow into a low hedge

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

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How to Divide Lavender Plants

The best times to divide lavender are fall and spring. However, to add more plants to your garden, taking cuttings. While it is possible to divide lavender, the stress may stunt the plant’s growth or even kill it. You should only divide lavender plants grown in warm climates. The colder the weather, the less likely the lavender plants will survive.

Dividing lavender should only take place in fall or spring, and only plants at least 3 years old should be subjected to the process. Plants that are ready to be divided have brown, dying centers and new growth sprouting from the edges.

Cut runners from the main plant.

Look closely at the center of the plant. Some of the center branches will have taken root. Divide and remove only the sections of the plant that have one or more rooted branches.

Dig the lavender division’s new hole; it must be 12 inches deep and at least as wide as the division’s root ball. Line the hole with organic compost.

Dig out the division. Insert the shovel where you want to make the division. Dig deeply enough to reach below the lavender’s root system on all sides. Cut away the part of the parent plant attached to the division.

Fill the new hole with excavated soil and plant the divided cutting at the same depth as the original plant.

Fill the empty space near the parent plant with any remaining excavated soil or commercial potting soil.

Water the newly planted division only when the soil dries out; the plant should be established in roughly one week. Resume a normal watering schedule once the division sprouts new growth.

Quick Guide to Growing Lavender

  • Plant lavender in spring, once all chances of frost have passed. This beautiful, fragrant herb is a great addition to raised beds, in-ground gardens, and growing in containers.
  • Space lavender plants 12 to 18 inches apart in an area with plenty of sunlight and sandy, well-drained soil with a pH of 6.7 to 7.3.
  • Give young plants an excellent start to the growing season by mixing in several inches of compost or other rich organic matter into your native soil.
  • Lavender survives well in dry conditions, so you’ll only have to water when the top 2 inches of soil are dry.
  • Promote vibrant blooms by regularly feeding with water-soluble plant food.
  • Harvest stems once they’re large enough for use. Avoid harvesting more than one-third of the plant at a time.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Set plants 12 to 18 inches apart in an open area with full sun and good air circulation. Be sure to choose strong, vigorous young lavender plants, like those from Bonnie Plants®. Bonnie has been growing plants for the home gardener for over a century, so you can rely on us to help you be successful.

Plant lavender in well-drained, slightly alkaline soil with a pH between 6.7 and 7.3. You can add builder’s sand to the soil before planting to increase drainage, which is vital because lavender will not tolerate excessive soil moisture or humidity. To further improve drainage, plant lavender in a raised bed filled with premium raised bed soil, such as 100 percent organic Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil, along a wall, or near the top of a slope. In an herb or perennial bed, ensure good drainage by planting lavender on a small mound. When planting lavender in pots, be sure to use high quality potting mix, such as Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Container Mix. For the very best results—think lots of beautiful, fragrant blooms—it’s also important to feed lavender regularly with a premium plant food like Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics™ All Purpose Plant Nutrition. Be sure to follow the directions on the label.

Lavender flowers bloom in summer; you can clip faded blooms to encourage continued blooming throughout the warm season. Prune lightly to promote branching, especially in spring once the plants show new growth.

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