Why is My Lavender Dying in Its Pot?

The reason that your lavender in the pot is dying is typically due to:

  1. The lavender has been planted in the wrong kind of pot. Pots for lavender need drainage holes at the base and be 16 inches in diameter otherwise, the lavenders will die from root decay.
  2. The soil mix isn’t well-draining, which causes lavenders ‘ roots to decay. The soil of lavender needs to be amended using gravel or sand to help balance nutrients and improve drainage of the soil.
  3. Do not water your potted lavender too often. The lavender plant is drought-resistant and established lavender require to be watered twice a week. A lot of water can cause root rot, which can lead to the lavender to end up dying.
  4. Lavender doesn’t get enough light. The best lavenders thrive in full sunlight and fade in shade. Place your plant in the most sunny part of your garden.
  5. Wrong lavender for your climate. Certain varieties of lavender are hardy to cold while others be killed in winter cold. Pots are also less insulated to protect the roots from cold and dry faster in summer.

Continue reading to discover the reason why the lavender in your container or pot is dying, and how you can do about the issue…

1. The Wrong Pot for Growing Lavender

The most frequent reason I have observed the reason why potted lavenders die is that they’re placed in a pot that is not suitable for them.

The perfect pot to grow lavender must be minimum 16 inches in diameter and include drainage holes in the base. If the pot for growing lavender isn’t equipped with drainage holes in its base, then the water will accumulate inside the pot and then saturate the soil.

(Read the article I wrote in What is the most effective pot to grow lavenders? for more details).

Lavenders are drought-resistant plants which have evolved to live in dry, sandy soil that doesn’t hold much moisture.

If the excess water is not able to escape from the pot, it is likely that the roots will begin to rot and the plant will die.

In this case, the first sign of stress will be the foliage of the lavender becoming brown, and the plant may develop an appearance of drooping. The excessive water can cause the root rot fungal disease that is one of the rare diseases that lavender is especially vulnerable to.

lavender in a pot

The only way to solve this is to move your lavender in a fresh pot that has drainage holes in the base . Let your lavender air dry for 2 weeks. At that point, it could be showing signs of healing, but this will depend upon how long your roots were in the soil that is saturated.

If the lavender shows signs of healing, then it should be watered every two weeks, and make sure that it doesn’t receive any more water from rain.

Sometimes I notice the lavender growing in a pot or a container which is inside or outside with an under-surface drip tray beneath the pot. This mimics the effect of a pot that does not have drainage holes in the base , and the plant will die from root decay.

If your plant is in the indoors and you’re trying to stop the water from spilling onto your window sill, I suggest putting an old towel underneath the pot while you water it as an interim measure, or simply move the pot to another location while you water.

2. The Wrong Soil Mix for Pots

The wrong mix of soil is one of the main reasons for why lavenders in containers and pots die.

Lavenders thrive when they are in soils that are alkaline, sandy and well-drained with moderate to low fertility.

To ensure that your have healthy lavender plants that produce plenty of fragrant flowers, you need to make a soil mix to your planter that replicates the conditions in the soil of lavender’s natural habitat.

  • The most common issue in the mix of soil is it doesn’t drain as fast as it should. The soil that lavenders need to drain quickly to allow their roots to dry out between irrigation. A rich organic soil not amended by sand or gravel can retain excessive moisture, which can cause root decay. The plant’s foliage is likely to turn brown and lose its in appearance. If it isn’t transplanted to a soil that drains well, the plant will die.
  • The lavender plant has adapted to gravel or sandy soils which are low to moderate in nutrients within their Mediterranean home area. If you plant lavender in fertile soils, or feed it with nutrients it will produce many leaves and produce less flowers. The nitrogen-based fertilizers cause the lavender’s foliage to change color to yellow and become sluggish.
  • The soil in which lavenders grow can be that ranges from pH 6.5-7.5 However, lavenders prefer soil that is slightly alkaline. When the soil’s pH is too acidic (less than the pH 6.5) and the plant is likely to end up dying or not last very long.

The best thing about growing the lavender in pots is you can have total charge over the type of soil that you choose to use instead of trying to alter the soil in your garden to accommodate the lavenders.

Fortunately, the solution to the problem of lavenders dying in pots because they are in the wrong place is very simple to fix.

  1. Remove the lavender from the soil that is causing it and dispose of it.
  2. Plant the lavender in soil that has at minimum 30 percent of sand (or gravel) and 70% organic compost, or the potting soil you buy from a store.
  3. Include a spoonful of lime from the agricultural sector (which is available at any garden store that is reputable) to the soil prior to planting, as this can raise the pH of the soil from alkaline to acidic.

The addition of sand or gravel can dramatically improve soil structure, allowing water to drain more efficiently and roots be able to dry out after watering, which reduces the risk for root rot.

They also don’t have high levels of nutrients, therefore they can balance organic compost and help recreate the preferred lavenders, soil with low fertility to moderate fertility conditions that it thrives in areas like France, Italy and Spain.

It is among the most crucial aspects to consider when it comes to cultivating lavender in containers and pots This is the reason I’ve written an article on how to make the ideal soil conditions to grow lavender inside pots.

3. Watering Potted Lavender too Frequently

Established lavender plants will require watering only once every two weeks during their growing seasons (spring as well as summer).

Lavenders don’t require any irrigation in winter, if kept outside, but indoor lavenders or those that are kept indoors during winter to protect them from cold temperatures only require irrigation once every 4 to 6 weeks.

(For complete information on the care of lavender in pots for winter check out my article. can lavender thrive in pots during the winter months?)

If you are watering the lavender plant in a container or pot often enough, it could die of root rot. The process of watering potted lavenders may be confusing because symptoms of stress in the over-watered lavenders could appear to be a sign of the appearance of a plant that is not being watered. Don’t make this mistake!

If the foliage of the lavender begins to appear brown and the stems of the lavender begin to lose their appearance, then the issue could be due to the fact that the lavender has been over-watered.

Lavenders are drought-resistant plants which thrive in dry, harsh conditions and intense sunlight, so it’s unlikely that they will ever be under watered unless it’s kept inside and not kept hydrated for long periods of time.

If your lavender is showing signs of stress due to an over-watered plant, then reduce the amount of watering to once every two weeks. Also, protect from rain and it could re-grow.

This must be done along with making sure you have the lavender in a pot that has drain holes at the bottom as well as well-draining soil which has been amended with gravel or sand.

The best way to grow lavender in pots is when they are watered in the method of soaking and dry of watering, where they get enough water that it drips out of the inside of the container (which can also be a sign it is well draining).

It is important to allow outdoor lavender pots the chance for the soil to dry out before watering it again in case there has been an excessive amount of rainfall over the past two weeks after the last time you watered, then you are able to defer watering for a couple of days until the soil is dry to the touch.

It is important to note that watering the lavender that has been planted recently is different than watering lavender that is established. Check out my article on watering lavender in pots to find out how to water lavender at various stages of their growth.

4. Wrong Potted Lavender for your Climate

The reason your lavender plant is dying could be due to the lavender plant isn’t appropriate for your climate.

English lavenders ( Lavandula angustifolia) well-known varieties include Munstead as well as Hidcoteare among the most durable of the lavenders and can withstand frosts and winter temperatures that can drop to as low as 14degF (-10degC) and they are considered to be hardy until USDA zone 4.

While Spanish and French varieties of lavender aren’t cold-hardy and can be killed by frosts in winter and frigid temperatures.

French as well as Spanish lavenders are only robust in USDA 7 to 9 which means they are not suitable to be grown in pots in a variety of climates that are temperate.

If your lavender appears like it’s struggling and the weather is getting cooler, then you should check the species the lavender you have is to determine if it’s cold-hardy.

It is important to note that the effects of extreme cold and hot temperatures are more severe for potted lavenders since pots expose the lavender’s roots to cold, with less insulation, and are more vulnerable to drying effects of hot weather since the pot is able to heat up in the scorching sun which is why it is important to growing lavender in pots that measure 16 inches in diameter so that it has more soil to safeguard the lavender.

If you reside in a climate with frosts, English lavenders can be the ideal choice as they grow a lot of flowers, possess the most exquisite scent and can last for as long as 15 years when properly cared for.

English lavender can also be one of the most adaptable plant as it is able to withstand drought-like conditions and cold.

You can plant French as well as Spanish lavenders in colder climates if you’re prepared to move the pots inside when the temperatures begin to fall prior to winter.

I’ve written an article about the specific steps to follow for how to take care of lavender plants in winter that includes French, Spanish and English lavenders. Click here for more details.

5. Not Enough Sun Light

Lavenders are the greatest flowers and the best scents during full sunlight and will not remain for long in the shade. Even during winter, lavenders get as much sunlight as they can get.

The more sunlight they get, the more fragrant and the more flowers the plant can produce. Find a spot to plant your lavender in a pot that receives at least six hours of sunshine every the day (morning sun is preferred) however more is preferable.

Lavenders that are shaded will show poor growth with less flowers and less oil. Therefore, relocate the plant to the most sunny part of your patio or garden as soon as you can and the lavender will produce more scent and flowers in the coming season.

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason that lavenders in pots die is typically because they’re placed in the wrong kind of pot. The pot must have drainage holes in its base to let the excess water to drain away otherwise, the pot will overflow in water, and then the flowers will grow root decay. Drop trays that are placed under the pot to collect excess water can also cause similar effects and the soil will turn too moist for the lavender’s roots.
  • The soil mix is as crucial as choosing the correct type of pot. The potting mix must be amended using gravel or sand so it is well draining and doesn’t retain too much water. The lavenders are drought-resistant and thrive in dry, sandy soils that are moderate or low on nutrients. When the soil becomes not fertile, the foliage of the lavender will change color and the plant will become in a sloppy manner with only a only a few flowers. The soil should have 30% sand or gravel up to 70 percent organic matter in order to ensure the proper soil structure and the amount of nutrients to the soil.
  • Pots can provide good drainage for lavenders, however established lavender should be watered only once every two weeks during the growing season. Do not water your outdoor lavender pots in winter. If you water your lavender excessively, the leaves will begin to become brown and the lavender’s stems will lose their appearance. Reduce the amount of water you use to every two weeks, and the plant could come back.
  • Containers and pots for lavender should be placed in full sunlight for the best results in regards to aromas and flowers. The lavender plant is not able to thrive in shade, so you should relocate your pot to the most sunny part of your patio or garden.
  • English lavenders are cold-hardy and are able to withstand frosts, whereas French as well as Spanish lavenders can only be grown in USDA zones 7-9 and be killed in cold temperatures. Take French as well as Spanish lavenders indoors during winter to protect them. Or, only cultivate English lavender varieties like Munsteadand Hidcotewhich are both cold-hardy and drought-resistant and yield stunning scents and beautiful flowers.
Stephanie

Stephanie

Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)