A little-known fact is that lavender is not actually native to the UK although common lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is widely known as English Lavender.
Lavender is actually native to many southern European countries on the Mediterranean Sea, and that is why they thrive in hot/ dry conditions and not so much when they are too damp or wet.
Lavender is a hardy and resilient plant that does not require much attention and can be grown in the UK without issue providing the conditions are right. All it takes is a little know-how, and your lavender plant will be thriving again in no time.
Bees love lavender and we do too, and if you have been having problems and wondering Why is my lavender dying? We are going to look at the 3 main symptoms, what they mean and what to do about it to ensure that your lavender lives for years to come.
Why is My Lavender Dying?
There are numerous reasons why your lavender may be dying, some of them are quite simple to figure out and rectify and others are a little more difficult.
First, we will have to look at what is happening to the plant that indicates to you that it is dying, this will help us work out what the problem might be and then we will be able to come up with a solution to help you revive it.
Drooping Appearance with Browning Foliage
When your lavender has become droopy and the foliage is browning, this is often an indication of root rot. Root rot is primarily caused by overwatering although there are other causes such as humidity or poorly drained soil that holds too much moisture.
Being from the Mediterranean, lavender likes sandy well-draining soil and if the roots become too wet for too long, it will cause the roots to rot.
A common misconception with lavender is that when people see the plant become droopy and begin to go brown, they presume that it is because there is a lack of water and then they compound the problem by watering even more.
There are a few ways that your lavender can be revived if it has reached this stage but first, you will need to figure out if you think that it has been over-watered or if the soil is just not draining adequately.
To fix heavy soil, it will be beneficial to mix in some sand. A good ratio for lavender would be a 70:30 soil to sand mix.
You will need to gently lift your lavender and till in the sand to a depth of around 18-inches to accommodate the root structure of the lavender when it has fully matured.
Do not give your lavender any more water for at least the next 3 to 4 weeks to give the soil enough time to dry out and help the roots recover.
After around 4 weeks, your plant should start to look a lot healthier and you will be able to resume your watering schedule albeit a little lighter than before!
Lack of Growth, Colour and Fragrance
If your lavender is showing little growth and a lack of colour in the foliage and an absence of fragrance, the likelihood is that it is not getting enough sunlight.
Being from the Med, lavender does best in full sun throughout the day although at a minimum they will need 6 hours of sun per day. Any less than 6 hours of sun per day could spell disaster.
If your lavender is in a pot and you have moved it into the shade by mistake or you have a new outbuilding in the garden, there are a number of ways that a new shade can be created, and this is not ideal for your lavender.
Not Enough Sun
If your lavender is not getting enough sun, it will have to be moved to a sunnier location. This is obviously much easier if the lavender is in a pot but if it is in the ground, it will need transplanting elsewhere.
Being an extremely hardy plant, lavender will take well to being transplanted at any time of the year although it is best to do it in the late winter or early spring which reduces the risk of transplant shock.
To transplant your lavender, it is a good idea to gently lift the plant with a fork being careful not to damage any of the root systems.
Re-plant the lavender in a sunny location approximately 3 ft from any other plants and water weekly for the first 3 weeks and then fortnightly after.
Foliage Turning Yellow
When the foliage on a lavender plant begins to turn yellow, this is an indication of too much nitrogen in the soil.
Many plants thrive in nitrogen-rich soils, but lavender is not one of them. Lavender thrives in sandy soil that has low fertility like the soils where the plant originated in the med.
Have you added fertiliser to your lavender lately? Or some rich new compost? If so, that could be the cause of the high nitrogen in the soil and the lavender will not tolerate it and will quickly die.
A soil testing kit (amazon link – opens in a new tab) that can test nitrogen levels is worth investing in if you think that this might be an issue.
Too Much Nitrogen
If you have discovered that there is too much nitrogen in the soil due to added fertiliser, cease fertilising immediately and the lavender should be okay the next season. If the nitrogen is in the soil but you do not know why the lavender will need to be lifted.
Gently lift the lavender and mix in some sand to a depth of around 18 inches to give the lavender roots plenty of room to grow.
I hope that we have been able to solve your problem and help you discover why your lavender was dying and what you could do to fix it. Lavender is a great plant to have around, especially for our little honey-making friends, the bees.
Ensure that you do your best to replicate their native conditions of sandy, well-draining soil and your lavender should continue to thrive for many years.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Lavender is a heat lover so you will need to ensure that your lavender is planted in the sunniest part of your garden!”
“Lavender does extremely well in raised beds where the soil is free-draining!”
“Only prune lavender into green foliage, if you go into the wood, the lavender could die of shock!”
“Ensure that you do not fertilise your lavender, although it may seem like a good idea, they will not like it!”
“If planting a new lavender in the garden, mix in plenty of sand into the soil to replicate lavenders native Mediterranean sandy soils!”
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you revive a dying lavender plant?
Lavender need plenty of sun and sandy, well-draining soil that is low in nitrogen so once you have ascertained why the lavender is struggling, you will have an idea of the solution.
Why is my lavender turning brown?
If your lavender is turning brown, it is extremely likely that it is being caused by root rot. Root rot occurs when the roots are over-saturated.
Stop watering immediately and let the plant dry out for 3-4 weeks. After around 4 weeks, the lavender should start to look a lot healthier. Remove any browned areas to promote overall plant health.
How do I know if my lavender plant is dying?
There are many different visible symptoms that your lavender is dying. Yellowing could indicate too much nitrogen, browning could indicate root rot and poor growth and fragrance could indicate that the plant is not getting enough sun.