Why is my Lavender Dying? (8 Solutions That Actually Work)

Why is my Lavender Dying? (8 Solutions That Actually Work)

Lavenders are tough, tenacious plants that do well in the full sun, well-drained, sandy soil, and low to medium fertility of their native Mediterranean region.

If you mimic some of the circumstances found in their natural habitat, lavenders can be extremely simple, drought-tolerant plants to grow.

The eight most frequent causes of lavender deaths or apparent deaths are listed in this article along with each issue’s solution. In order to learn why your lavender is dying and what you can do to stop it, keep reading.

Most likely causes of your lavender’s demise include:

  1. Lavenders being overwatered (Drooping Appearance with Brown Foliage)
  2. The Ground Dries Out Too Slowly (Too much Moisture Around the Roots)
  3. Insufficient sunlight (Lavenders need at least 6 hours per day)
  4. incorrect soil acidity (pH 6.5-7.5 is optimal)
  5. Lavender Not Suitable for Your Climate
  6. The weather can be too humid for the best lavender growing conditions.
  7. Pruning ruthlessly into woody growth
  8. Turning yellow leaves (Excess of Nitrogen in the Soil)

1. Over Watering Lavenders (Drooping Appearance with Brown Foliage)

Your lavender is most likely dying as a result of overwatering. In Europe’s Mediterranean region, where the summers are hot and dry, lavender grows well. Due to its great drought tolerance and low water needs, lavender plants thrive and produce flowers.

Lavender that receives too much water will suffer from root rot and display signs of stress including drooping or wilting and browning of the leaf.

The brown foliage and drooping appearance are sometimes mistaken for signs of underwatering. As a result, many gardens add additional water to the problem, which only makes the root rot worse and speeds up the plant’s demise.

The roots of lavender need to be in dry soil that drains fast and retains minimal moisture. You will eventually destroy your lavender plant if you water it as regularly as other garden plants.

In fact, mature lavender plants (those older than two years) are so resilient that they won’t even require supplemental watering in temperate climes because rainfall will provide more than enough moisture, even during summer dry spells.

When it comes to cultivating lavender, overwatering rather than underwatering is always an issue because lavenders can endure drought in some of the hottest and driest places of Europe.

However, after a few weeks, overwatered stressed lavenders can be successfully saved if you follow the instructions and cease watering.

The answer.

If your lavender plant is exhibiting symptoms of being overwatered, you should stop watering it for at least three weeks and, if at all possible, shield it from rainfall (move recovering potted lavenders inside during the rain).

As a result, the soil will have an opportunity to drain and the roots will have a chance to dry out and recover from root rot.

With a pair of sterile pruners, you must trim any afflicted leaves just below the point where it becomes brown.

The plant should appear significantly better after three weeks without water, at which point you can resume your regular watering schedule.

Here is a handy reference table for watering lavenders effectively.

Prerequisites for LavendersWhen Should I Water My Lavender?
newly cultivated lavenderFor the first four weeks, once a week.
In the first two years of growth, lavenderIf there is little or no rainfall during this time, once every two weeks.
Long-standing Lavenders (more then 2 years)If there has been a substantial amount of rainfall, no water is necessary.
During particularly dry and warm conditionsonce every two weeks with a nice soak in hot, drought-like conditions.
In the WinterExcept in extremely dry conditions, lavender plants outdoors only need watering once a month indoors.
Lavender in a potevery two weeks after a thorough soak.

During the spring and summer, lavender plants in their first two years of growth require watering every two weeks. You can forego watering for the following two weeks if there has been a two-week stretch of heavy rain and overcast days.

Except in cases where it has been hot and dry for longer than two weeks, established lavender plants frequently do not require any watering.

The amount of water needed really depends on the type of soil you have, but if it’s rapid draining sandy soil—which lavenders prefer—you can afford to give lavenders a good long soak so that water reaches the roots rather than a light watering that might not infiltrate deeply enough.

The majority of lavenders get all the water they need for their winter dormancy from sporadic rainfall, but if you’ve had a dry winter or brought the lavender indoors for protection from frost, the lavender will benefit from watering once a month.

Lavender plants in pots require more care and consideration when it comes to watering, therefore I produced another article on how to water lavender plants in pots.

Given that these issues are frequently connected, you should also think about whether your soil drains quickly enough because lavenders love sandy soil (more on that in the second section).

Check out my article for the answer if your lavender appears to be drooping but the leaves are not turning brown. If so, the soil fertility may be to blame.

If you reduce watering to the right level and your soil drains rapidly, your lavender should recover in approximately three weeks and be completely healthy by the start of the following growing season.

2. The Soil Drains Too Slowly (Too much Moisture Around the Roots)

Sandy soil with a friable structure that allows water to run through quickly without retaining moisture is preferred by lavender plants.

Clay soils, thick, compacted soils, and soils rich in organic matter are not good for growing lavender because they tend to retain water, which causes root rot, which causes the plant to progressively deteriorate and turn brown.

The symptoms of stress brought on by poorly draining soil are identical to those of overwatering. The first signs will be a drooping appearance and a browning of the leaves, and you should take immediate action.

The answer.

First and foremost, you must watch out not to overwater the lavender as this can exacerbate the issue.

Either of these things must be done.

  • For better drainage, place the lavender in a pot.
  • Replant the lavender after temporarily removing it from the ground and adding sand or grit to the soil.

When growing lavenders, it is always preferable to have more sand or grit in the soil than not enough since sand encourages effective drainage and will be less fertile than other materials, replicating the naturally lower fertility of soils in their native Mediterranean region.

The planting space for lavender should consist of roughly 70% soil and 30% sand or grit. This should be optimum mixed to a depth of ideally 18 inches as this will accommodate the root system of lavender when it is fully developed.

Lift existing lavender plants out of the soil gently with a fork, then till or dig sand and grit into the bed to a depth of at least 18 inches before replanting the lavender.

Additional methods for counting soils that hold water include:

  • Plant lavender on raised beds.
  • Plant lavenders in pots (read my entire advice on growing lavenders in pots) (see my full guide on growing lavenders in pots)
  • Alternately, just raise the dirt in the bed by about 6 inches so that it lies above more moist soil and promotes faster drainage.

It should take around 3 weeks for the roots to dry out sufficiently and the drooping appearance to go away once you have either placed the lavender into a pot or amended the soil with sand and grit in the planting spot.

The plant should eventually regain its full health if any foliage that has turned brown has been cut off just below the damaged area.

3. Not Enough Sunlight

Lavenders enjoy full light all day long in their native Mediterranean region, which includes Italy, Southern France, and Spain. Lavenders may be grown everywhere, even in a non-Mediterranean environment, but you must put them in the garden area that receives the most sunlight.

The quantity of flowers, oil, and perfume your lavender will produce is dependent to how much sun it receives.

In order to grow healthily, lavender plants require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day during the spring and summer. Lavenders will develop slowly, lack color in their leaves, have poor aroma, and may even die if they get fewer than six hours of sunlight daily.

Additionally, sunlight encourages evaporation from the surrounding soils and can lower humidity, hence lowering the risk of diseases like root rot in lavender.

The answer.

You should transfer your lavender plant to a more sunny area of your garden if it shows poor growth and few flowers.

Finding a spot in your yard that receives more than six hours of direct sunlight each day is all that is necessary to do if your lavender is in pots. You will need to transplant the lavender if it was planted in the ground.

Although lavenders are sturdy and can handle planting at any time of year if necessary, the optimum time to transplant one is in the late winter or early spring since this will minimize the symptoms of transplant shock.

To transplant lavender, gently pluck it out of the ground using a fork (avoid using a shovel or spade) while being careful not to damage any roots.

Replant the lavender simply in a sunny area with sandy soil that drains well and is medium to low in fertility, around 2-3 feet away from other plants.

Firm the earth around the lavender to add some solidity, but avoid compacting it because this will impede the root development of the plant.

If you transplanted your lavender during the spring or summer, water it once a week for the first four weeks before switching back to your regular once every two-week watering routine.

If you moved the lavender during the fall or winter, water it thoroughly right away and then once a week for three weeks. As rainfall is typically higher in the fall and winter and the soil has a tendency to retain moisture for longer, you will only need to water the plant occasionally after three weeks.

4. Wrong Soil Acidity (pH 6.5-7.5 is optimal)

4. Wrong Soil Acidity (pH 6.5-7.5 is optimal)

It is doubtful that the lavender will live very long or develop to its full capacity of blooming, healthy growth, and fragrance if the soil has a pH lower than 6.5.

Chalk soils, which typically have an alkaline pH and good drainage, are ideal for growing lavender.

Since most potting soils are typically pH 7 (neutral), they are suitable for growing lavenders in pots. However, you should always check the manufacturer’s instructions. Most garden soils are either neutral or slightly acidic because this is the pH level that organic matter will be once it has fully decomposed.

If you are unclear of the pH level of your garden soil, I advise buying a cheap soil test kit from Amazon. They are really simple to use and are quite reasonably priced!

To prevent your lavender from dying, replenish your soil with lime or wood ash if you discover that it is too acidic.

The answer.

If you have tested your soil and found that it is too acidic (less than pH 6.5) to grow lavender, I would suggest you to move the plant as soon as possible to a container with fresh soil (use 70% potting soil and 30% sand for drainage).

If necessary, a lavender plant can be transplanted from the ground at any time of year. But there are several actions you should take to lessen transplant shock. For a complete care manual, see my post on growing lavender in pots.

Once you move your lavender to a pot, it will thrive there because lavenders of all sorts thrive in containers. Alternatively, you can maintain your lavender in a pot while you amend the soil and finally transplant it in its original location.

You can add a lime amendment to the soil to bring the pH level from “too acidic” to the appropriate range for lavenders. To boost the pH of the soil toward neutral or alkaline depending on the amount used, lime can be purchased online or through garden supply stores.

To apply the lime, all you need to do is dig or till it into the soil until it reaches a depth of around 18 inches. Fall is the ideal season to carry out this task. Long-term pH control of garden soil requires perseverance and repeated soil testing to be sure the alteration you have made has been significant and permanent.

You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for information on exactly how much lime you should apply to the soil since you don’t want to add too much and end up with soil that is too alkaline. Lime is quite inexpensive.

If there is an issue with soil pH in regard to lavenders, it will almost always be caused by excessively acidic soils rather than soil that is too alkaline.

5. Wrong Lavender for Your Climate

Lavenders, as was previously said, are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe, where they thrive in conditions of full sun, high temperatures throughout the day, and little precipitation.

The many hybrids of the Spanish, French, and Italian lavender species are less resistant of cold temperatures and frequent winter frosts, frequently withering over the winter if exposed to these conditions.

The English variety of lavender, however, can grow, produce blooms and scents in considerably colder areas and may even withstand many frosts during their winter dormancy, despite still needing full sun.

Therefore, you will probably need to replace your lavenders every season if you are growing the Spanish, French, and Italian varieties outside in chilly climes.

However, there are some ways to prevent this.

The answer.

I would suggest choosing the English lavender species if you intend to cultivate lavenders in chilly locations with cold winters because it will tolerate the cooler temperatures.

In contrast, if you have any of the southern European types and live somewhere with a colder temperature, you can re-home them in pots and put them in a heated greenhouse or bring them indoors throughout the winter to protect them from frosts.

If that doesn’t work, you can develop a production line of lavender plants every year to replace those that have been damaged by frost because lavender is actually quite simple to reproduce.

6. The Climate may be Too Humid For Lavenders

Lavenders do not grow well in humid regions with poor rates of evaporation because the soil tends to keep too damp for their roots, which can result in rotting or fungus problems.

Too humid settings will cause lavender plants to exhibit stress symptoms similar to those of overwatering or slow-draining soil, including a droopy appearance and browning foliage.

Although lavenders do best in drier locations with less humidity in the air, they can tolerate some humidity if their conditions are adjusted and they are tolerant to sea spray.

The answer.

Lavenders need at least three feet of space from any other plants or garden corners in order to survive in humid environments.

The better for the lavender is a position that is more exposed and has greater airflow.

It would be a good idea to plant lavenders in pots so you may set them in the garden’s most exposed or breezy spot and keep them away from calm air.

In humid climes, well-drained soil and sparing watering are obviously much more crucial for lavenders, so think about carefully taking out your lavender with a fork and amending the soil with extra sand or grit for quick drainage and dryer roots.

Another excellent suggestion I picked up from commercial lavender producers is to cover the plant with white stones. From garden shops or building suppliers, you can get stone in small quantities for a fair price.

White gravel or stone has a lovely appearance, but it also effectively repels weeds and reflects light.

Since lavender thrives in full sun, the reflected light helps the plant. When the sun is out, it can also produce a microclimate by causing evaporation from the area around the leaves, which leads to a dryer atmosphere.

Be liberal; the effect will be more noticeable the more white stone you place around the lavender.

In humid climates, small changes like those made to these lavenders might result in stunning blooms.

7. Aggressive Pruning into Woody Growth

When it comes to trimming lavenders, the first and most important guideline is to never prune into the woody growth but only into the green foliage. Cutting into the woody growth will cause the lavender to split, take on a bad shape, or succumb to shock.

The answer.

For optimal results, prune lavenders in the spring and trim back spent flowers in late summer.

Given that they only produce flowers on fresh growth, lavender plants respond nicely to pruning.

When new leaves begin to emerge at the base, which is typically quite early in the spring, pruning should be done. In order to shape the lavender so that it maintains a rounded form that prevents the plant from splitting, you can cut up to a third of growth from the top.

A visual explanation of how to prune is always the most effective, so watch this YouTube video for a detailed explanation.

8. Foliage Turning Yellow (Excess of Nitrogen in the Soil)

8. Foliage Turning Yellow (Excess of Nitrogen in the Soil)

Every plant needs the three nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to grow, however some plants can benefit from more nitrogen in the soil than others.

Lavenders, on the other hand, benefit from carelessness and grow and produce more flowers in soil with a medium to low nutrient level.

Lavenders grow best and create the strongest scents on the sandy, relatively poor soil of their native Mediterranean region.

The concentration of nutrients in the soil, as well as any additional organic or chemical fertilizer, may generate an excess of nitrogen.

No further fertilizer will be required for established lavender plants. This information has been backed up by the English Royal Horticultural Society, first-hand experience, and conversations with commercial lavender farmers in California.

Avoid using fertilizer and even naturally rich soil because they will encourage a lanky appearance, fewer, if any, flowers, and less scent.

The answer.

Depending on where the extra nitrogen is coming from, there may be a remedy.

If you have fertilized your lavender plants, stop doing so right away. Your lavender should produce more flowers the next season.

If the lavender is yellow and you haven’t added any fertilizer, it’s conceivable that the soil has too many nutrients for lavender.

In this case, you have two options: either transplant the lavender, or plant it in a pot with 70% potting soil and 30% grit. Alternately, you might dig up the lavender and then replant it after adding lots of sand and gravel to the planting place.

Adding a lot of sand won’t harm lavenders and will actually reproduce their native environment, even though this isn’t an exact science because the soils where lavenders originally grow can have a very high proportion of sand or gravel.

If you are modifying a flower bed, you must add sand or grit to the soil up to a depth of 18 inches (either works well). Sand does not add any nutrients to the soil, which will balance out soil that naturally has a lot of nitrogen.

In these circumstances, I have personally witnessed lavender that was planted in soil that had been altered to contain roughly 50% sand and 50% dirt totally recover the following year (after a routine late summer and early spring pruning) and produce an abundant bloom.

(Read my post on maintaining lavender plants in pots.)

Key Takeaway

If you partially duplicate some of the natural conditions of their Mediterranean home range, lavenders will flourish happily (France, Spain and Italy). For any grower of lavender, full sun, quick-draining soil, and infrequent watering are essential.

You do not have to live in a Mediterranean climate, but you do need to mimic some of the circumstances of their natural environment.

Despite what could appear to be unfavorable conditions, such as cooler temperatures or higher levels of humidity, lavender is produced in several US states and other locations throughout the world.

Lavenders create lovely blooms and spread a great perfume throughout your garden during the summer; all you need to do is make a few tweaks.

Most lavender plants that appear to be dying can be salvaged if you respond promptly by making adjustments to factors like soil drainage, watering, sunlight, soil pH, and forgoing fertilizer.

I frequently observe that overwatering or excessively wet soil are the causes of lavender dying. If you just follow the instructions in the article, you can not only save the lavender plant but also ensure that it will produce an abundance of flowers, essential oils, and aromatic compounds the following growing season.


Will my lavender come back to life?

If they are grown in the right climate, lavender does come back after Winter. Unlike English lavender, which can withstand cold weather and re-grow in the spring, French and Spanish lavender are not cold hardy and may not recover after a cold Winter with freezing temperatures.

What to do if lavender is dying?

Overwatering is a typical issue that leads in root rot, which kills lavender plants. To rescue the plant, you must act fast if you suspect root rot. Pruning any impacted roots after removing the plant from the ground. Replant the lavender in a soil that drains properly after that.

How do you know when lavender is dying?

Lavender that has been overwatered may exhibit yellowing leaves, first on the bottom leaves. Dropping, a decaying smell, and obviously soggy soil are additional signs that a lavender plant needs to be watered less. Lavender that is not receiving enough water will droop, and the soil will feel entirely dry.

How do you revive a dying lavender plant?

Lavender Revival Techniques. If root rot is thought to be present, remove the affected roots and replant the lavender in a soil that drains well. Make sure your lavender, whether it is in a pot or not, gets six to eight hours of sun each day. deep water, but don’t fill it until the top inch (2.5 cm.) Apr 13, 2022

How do I know if my lavender is dying?

Lavender that has been overwatered may exhibit yellowing leaves, first on the bottom leaves. Dropping, a decaying smell, and obviously soggy soil are additional signs that a lavender plant needs to be watered less. Lavender that is not receiving enough water will droop, and the soil will feel entirely dry.