Lavenders are drought-resistant plants so the reason your Lavender is drooping could be due to stress. This could also indicate that the soil is too rich or too moist.
Lavenders can be found in the Mediterranean countries of Spain and France. They thrive in sandy soils that are well-drained and low fertility, while being exposed to full sunlight.
Lavenders can be grown in any climate, but it is not necessary to have a Mediterranean-climate garden. However, you will need to replicate some of their natural conditions.
The three biggest mistakes gardeners make to cause lavender drooping include
The roots need to be dry between periods of rain and watering.
Lavenders that get too much water can develop a droopy appearance and possibly browning or yellowing of their leaves. This may appear to be an indication that the plant is not being properly watered.
Some gardeners make the problem worse by thinking that the lavender requires more water because of its droopy appearance. The roots then begin to rot from over exposure to water.
Lavenders also require porous soil to allow water to flow through easily without retaining too much moisture.
If you have clay soil, rich compost, or other conditions that make it difficult to keep water around the roots, this can cause the lavender to look wilted or swollen.
Lavenders love sandy soil and prefer it to have a low nutrient density. The addition of fertilizers or too fertile soils will encourage foliage growth, and produce a leggy, drooping lavender with few flowers.
Continue reading to find out how to avoid making these errors and what you can do about drooping lavender.
Use water lavender sparingly to prevent drooping
Less is more when watering lavenders. If there has not been significant rainfall in warm, dry climates such as the Mediterranean or Southern California, you only need to water your lavender twice a week during the growing season (Spring & Summer).
If there have been many overcast days and some rain, then the lavenders won’t need any water. You can wait until there is a 2 week dry spell before watering.
If you live in a climate that receives frequent rain, established lavenders (over two years old) won’t need to be watered as they are drought-tolerant. This is why lavenders are known for being low-maintenance plants.
Keep lavenders under water throughout the year. Don’t overwater them. All varieties can droop and eventually go dormant if they aren’t watered enough.
English lavenders kept outdoors in mild climates won’t need to be watered over winter. The lower evaporation rate and more likely rainfall will provide enough moisture to keep them healthy.
The Spanish, French, and Italian lavender varieties are not as tolerant of cold winters than the English species. They should be grown only in warm climates that don’t experience significant frosts.
Non-English lavender varieties don’t need to be watered much over winter. However, if they have had a particularly dry winter, give them water once a month until spring.
Lavenders only require more water attention when they are just being planted or transplanted.
Lavenders may experience transplant shock after being moved. They will need more water for the first month. After that, they can be watered once per week.
Lavenders prefer dry conditions and little water. They can tolerate droughts due to their Mediterranean heritage. So, consider creating these conditions.
Water once every two weeks with approximately 1 litre oz. Only if the soil is dry. Forgo watering if there have been significant rains.
Lavenders can recover from a droopy appearance if they are not watered enough. However, it is important to let the lavenders dry for at least three weeks so that the roots can dry properly.
Overly fertile soil causes lavenders to droop
Another reason for lavenders that look wilted or droopy is soil with high fertility or fertilizer added.
Rich soils that have lots of nutrients are ideal for growing roses or other heavy-feeding plants, but they are not suitable to grow lavenders.
Lavenders thrive in sandy, nutrient-poor soils like the Mediterranean. A higher level of nutrients can cause foliage to grow faster than the blooms, and lavenders may appear leggy or droopy.
The same effect will occur if you fertilize lavenders. Lavenders do not need additional fertilizer , and will happily get all the nutrients that they require for their sandy soil (as confirmed by the RHS).
Check out my article on the full list of conditions that encourage the most lavender blooms.
If you used fertilizer but your lavender is still drooping, don’t be discouraged. It is possible to accept a low bloom in one season, but you can prune the excess growth in the late summer so that your lavender will recover by the next growing season.
If you suspect that your soil is too fertile to grow lavenders, I suggest digging the lavender up in late winter or early spring and adding lots of sand.
Sand is naturally low-nutrient and will help to reduce the soil’s fertility. This will provide more favorable conditions for lavender. Aim for roughly 30% sand to 70% soil in the planting area.
This will ensure that the soil is well drained and has the correct nutrient balance. It should also prevent lavenders from drooping.
After amending the soil, immediately plant the lavender and give it a good soak. The lavender may not be at its peak for another year.
Improve Soil drainage
If you follow the right guidelines for watering lavenders but the plant still seems to be droopy, it’s more likely that the soil in which the lavenders are planted is too dry.
Lavenders are found in the Mediterranean’s sandy, arid areas with intense summer sunlight.
They prefer soil to be sandy, even slightly rocky. This is because it doesn’t absorb water and retain it (like rich compost). It also allows water to drain from the roots easily, due to its porous structure.
Water retaining soils that don’t get enough sun will naturally be less moist. You will notice the same symptoms of overwatering (drooping appearance, browning leaves), and the roots of lavenders will rot and die if they are constantly exposed to water.
The roots of the lavender must be in dry soil to ensure that they are healthy and prevent drooping.
There are 3 options to improve drainage and prevent lavenders drooping.
- Lift you lavenders out the flower bed and amend the soil with sand or grit.
- Transplant your lavenders to pots, with more suitable soil.
- Plant your lavender into a raised bed with new soil.
If your lavenders are located in low-lying areas of your garden where soil moisture is naturally high, then you have two options. You can either transfer them into pots or raise beds to get rid of the soil moisture. Then, amend their soil with sand and grit.
All varieties of lavenders do extremely well in pots and raised beds. They provide drier conditions for roots than if they were grown in soil.
If your lavenders were planted in the ground, you will need to lift them with a fork, then move them to the other side. Next, add a lot of sand to the soil to make it more porous. This will allow the soil to drain more efficiently.
Whether you are planting lavenders in pots, raised beds or in the soil, you should aim for at least 30% sand or grit to 70% soil or compost.
I recommend that soils with significant clay have a ratio of 50: 50 soil grit. The grit will form air pockets in the water-retaining clay, which is slick and water-retaining clay, so that water can penetrate.
The best time to do this is in late winter or early spring. This will minimize transplant shock. If your plant is severely drooping due to poor soil drainage, you’ll need to amend it as soon as possible.
After you have added your grit/sand (both work great), you can use a hose to water the soil and check if drainage has improved. After a quick soak with a hose, the water should run off the surface in no time.
Once you have satisfied the soil drainage, replant your lavenders. The drooping appearance of the plants should disappear and they will be back to their healthier self in about 1-3 weeks.
Sand, grit and clay are low fertility, which can counteract fertile soils. Poor soils are better for lavenders because they tend to produce more flowers and grow more leaves in fertile soils. For a complete list conditions that encourage lavender blooms, please see my article.
The cause of the lavender’s drooping appearance is overly fertile soils. This can be caused by too much watering, excessive fertilizer or too little watering.
The drooping form is often accompanied with a browning or yellowing foliage, which is a sign of stress.
To fix drooping lavenders, you can drastically reduce watering or replant them in soil amended with sand and grit.
The sand or grit can help improve drainage so roots stay relatively dry and don’t succumb to rootrot. The roots of lavenders will die if they are exposed to moist soil for too long.
If the lavenders are suffering from drooping due to lack of watering, they can recover in a matter of 1 to 3 days.
However, if your lavenders are drooping is due to high fertility soils, you will need to add sand orgit to the soil to reduce its nutrient density.
It will take a lavender another year to recover from the addition of fertilizer. However, by the next growing season, it should be looking better and producing more flowers.