You’ve done the work to get those lavender plants going. They sprouted for a while and grew well but now there’s a problem: the lavender is dying from the bottom up! Here’s a brief and basic troubleshooter to help you figure out what’s wrong, especially if you’re new to the gardening game.
People in cooler climates may have more difficulty caring for lavender than those in desert-like conditions. Depending on where you live, you may have to baby the lavender and want to note all aspects of the plant’s environment to guarantee it thrives.
If your lavender is dying from the bottom up, it generally means a mold issue called “root rot.” This is because it’s getting too much water or the environment is too humid. You want to ensure they have Mediterranean-like conditions, in and above ground.
Observe the content and looseness of the soil. Does it drain well? Is there any clay in it? If you live in a place that’s NOT a Greek seaside or something akin Sicily’s volcanic-laden soil, you may want to choose a pot rather than the yard.
The soil lavender is in shouldn’t have too much clay. Clay is impermeable and can be detrimental to the plant. You want a nice, coarse sand mixed with dry soil. Also test the soil to certify it has a pH factor between 6 and 8.
If you’re using a pot, layer the soils. Spread the bottom with a bed of rocks/gravel, then a small layer of dry soil, next a thin layer of coarse sand and finally top with more dry soil blended with coarse sand in equal proportions (add a few rocks in there too).
NOTE: Do not use fine sand. Over time, the grains of sand will clump together and prevent water from bleeding through. You don’t want too much drainage either because the roots won’t take to the soil.
Careful with That Watering Can
Now determine how much water the lavender gets in general. As a rule, refrain from watering your lavender plants too often. These are wonderful in drought conditions and actually like a little neglect.
If they’re planted in the ground, it may be good to have them on a slight hill to help with proper effluence. Check for and remove any extraneous water drips coming from downspouts, faucets, roofs and rain gutters. Watering in the sun during the day will be the coup de grace.
Allow the occasional rain or thunderstorm to water them. If rain is sparse, only water them at nighttime every two weeks. If it rains more than usual, bring the plant inside if it’s feasible.
Good drainage is especially important if the environment is humid. You’ll want to make sure it gets direct sunlight all day to prevent root rot. Bring your plants inside whenever it rains and keep a fan on your lavender, if possible, to help reduce the moisture.
Put lavender in the bathroom and steam them a handful of times throughout the dark depths of winter in cooler climates. Do not water the lavender at all. Keep them away from drafty windows and cold air.
- Fresh, Breezy Air – Make sure the foliage is getting enough air flow. Are your plants too close together or are they crowded by other plants?
- Material is Important – For all potted lavender, use a clay or terracotta pot that’s 16” across. There should be decent-sized drainage holes on the bottom. Only one plant per pot.
- Say No to the Shade – Make sure the lavender gets full sun all day. They don’t do well in any amount of shade and may cause them to wilt, giving an appearance of dying.
- Prune the Dead Stuff – Regular pruning of dead twigs and leaves is imperative. Lack of pruning can cause your plants’ death.
- All to No Avail – If you’ve done all these without any changes, there may be something more going on. There could be a fungal disease in the soil or your didn’t clean the pot well before using it. You may have to remove the thing altogether.
For any other issues, contact your local gardener, home improvement center or college botanist for further help.
Lavender can be a rewarding or frustrating experience. It all depends on the gardener’s knowledge. Understanding their exact requirements and appropriate application of those needs are the keys to ultimate success.