Why Is My Lavender Turning Brown?

Last Updated on October 31, 2022 by Stephanie

What causes lavender to turn brown?

The reason that lavenders change color is due to the fungal disease known as root rot. Root root causes either high humidity or a persistently moist soil surrounding the roots of lavenders and results in brown foliage and stems with a wilting look.

The lavenders that have brown-colored stems leaves and flowers show symptoms of stress due to excessive water close to the root and not due to the insufficient irrigation.

The most frequent circumstances that cause lavender to start turning brown include:

  • The soil that drains too slowly
  • Overwatering
  • High-frequency rainfall
  • High humidity

Continue reading to find out ways to implement solutions to these issues and how to keep lavender from becoming to brown…

The soil drains too slowly (add 30 percent of sand)

Lavenders are a relatively low-maintenance plant, but it is essential to plant them in soil which is easily draining, and doesnt retain water.

Lavenders have adapted to the often harsh, neglected conditions in the dry Mediterranean coast . They flourish in sandy and hard, stony soils with a low organic content.

Lavenders wont grow as well when the soil is clay, or a heavy soil that blocks the water from quickly absorbing.

The soil that is well draining, but are too full of organic material (such as a leaf mold and garden mix) could cause issues because this substance can hold on to, and keep moisture in the roots for long time.

The soil must be swiftly draining, to the point that it is able to dry out between watering sessions.

When the soil is drained fast enough and doesnt retain moisture, then the lavender plants will be able to get sufficient oxygen to breathe and the risk for the rot of roots ( Phytophthora nicotianae) will drastically reduce.

French Lavender

The answer is either:

  1. Add sand or gravel the area of planting to make sure that the soil is approximately 1/3 sand with 2/3 of soil.
  2. Place lavenders in the pot to ensure they drain well.

By adding gravel and sand you can recreate the ideal soil conditions of the lavenders natural habitat.

What can be done to modify the plant area:

  • With a fork use a fork to lift the lavender from the ground and put it on the other side.
  • You can dig out the area you are planting to about 18 inches in depth and width or as large a space as you are able to dig. In the event that your soil particularly slow to drain, the greater the area you can modify, the more effective.
  • If you have clay or heavy soil, it is best to distribute the soil throughout the garden. Replace it with 2/3 organic compost and one third of gravel or sand and evenly mix it into the area of planting.
  • Replant the lavender and allow it to dry out for a few days prior to irrigation if the majority of the plant is brown.

An alternative is to transfer your lavender in a pot , and allow it to dry. Pick a pot thats minimum 16 inches wide with drainage holes at the bottom. (Read my post on selecting the right pot to grow lavenders in).

Lavenders thrive in pots since theyre a good drainage plant and are simpler to alter the soil to ensure that it drains well. This article provides the most effective soil mix to grow lavenders in containers and pots to ensure that the lavenders last longer and produce more blooms and scent.

Let the lavender air dry for about two weeks prior to irrigation. If it is in a pot, place it to a covered area to protect it from rain.

The browning of lavenders are not always able to recover from root rot , but the act of planting them or transferring them into the soil they prefer is the most effective thing to do.

(For more information on the transplanting of lavender check out my blog post on Gardener Report which explains how to lessen the shock of transplants).

The over-watering causes root Rot (Water once twice a week)

Another reason for the color of lavender turning brown is excessive the watering. The lavenders are indigenous to the dry regions in Southern France, Italy and Spain in which it rains relatively constant throughout the year and where there is high temperatures and intense sunshine in the summer months.

So lavender has evolved to become a drought-resistant plant that actually thrives in terms of its growth as well as fragrance and blooming in these conditions.

If you are watering your lavender too often, the soil will not get the chance to dry out properly, and root rot, followed by browning foliage is inevitable.

  • Established lavenders need to be watered each two weeks. If there was a significant rainfall during the past two weeks, do not water until the soil around it is dry to a finger deep.
  • Lavenders that have been transplanted or newly planted require more care. After planting, water well and make sure to water the plants every two every day for 2 weeks to ease the shock of transplantation. After the first few weeks, reduce the amount of frequency of watering to once a week for the first 3 months. After three months, water twice a week.
  • Do not ever water your lavender in winter, as the lavender is in an inactive state. Wet, cold soils in winter are the most common when lavenders turn brown therefore, avoid all-over watering unless the lavender is inside, in which case it is recommended to water lightly every 4 to 6 weeks is all it needs.

The most ideal moment to start planting or transfer lavender is in the spring, however if the stems, foliage and flowers are beginning to turn brown, it is important to relocate the lavender as soon as you can, regardless of season.

The best lavenders thrive in the dry and soak style of watering, so make sure to ensure that you water your lavender in an ample amount of water, but only once every two weeks once it is established.

It is important to remember that lavender is drought-resistant therefore over-watering is more problematic than over watering. If your area receives a lot of rain, then you might not require watering your the lavender over a period of weeks. stretch.

(For more details, check out my blog post on the best time to wash the lavender).

Humidity (Space lavenders farther away)

There are varieties of the lavender plant that can be cold-hardy however there isnt one that can withstand constant high humidity. Humidity creates an environment in which lavenders are vulnerable for root rot.

Lavenders thrive in an open space, with plants placed about 2 feet apart to ensure they have plenty of airflow to the leaves.

Do not plant lavenders too close to each other or too close to other plants that have no airflow, as this can create an environment with a higher humidity than the region.

Get rid of any organic matter towards the close of Fall (such like dead or dying leaves) which can build up around lavender plants and collect excessive moisture, which could increase the humidity.

When I was in the lavender farms of California The lavender growers insist on using a mulch of white stones that reflect light back on the plant (which increases flowering and production of oil) and reduces humidity, which reduces the risk of root rot, and help ensure that the plant is well-maintained.

Heavy rainfall (Amend soil and shelter Lavenders)

The lavender plant can thrive in areas that receive a significant amount of rain, with the majority of lavenders grown throughout England as well as commercial farms of lavender in Washington State in the USA.

But in areas with a lot of rain that contrast with lavenders native hot, dry Mediterranean countries, soil drainage and structure becomes more crucial, to ensure that the water drains away from the soil as fast as is possible.

In addition, lavender may not require any watering in these conditions and will receive more than enough moisture from the surrounding environment.

If your lavender is turning brown due to excessive rainfall, there are two options are possible to do.

  • Add gravel or sand to the mix (up up to 50 percent in volume)
  • Protect lavender from the rain (far more easily to do this in the pot)

The ability of soil to drain quickly is crucial for all lavenders, but in areas with high rainfall it is essential to prevent root rot, which can cause a brown, wilting look.

A lot of gravel or sand is better than not enough for keeping the lavender roots clean and dry, so make sure you are generous. Lavenders can thrive and create an amazing display of flowers using as much as a 50% of sand or gravel mixed with the compost, especially in areas with high rainfall.

Alternately, you can move lavenders in a pot or raised bed to boost the rate of drainage and thus reduce the risk for root rot.

Pots may be covered in the event of a period of heavy rain predicted in the coming days, giving the plant time to dry out. However, remember to return them to a sunny spot. Lavenders thrive in full sun.

(Read my article on the cultivation of lavender inside pots).

If the soil is allowed to dry, it will begin to dry and the lavender will recover dependent on the severity of the root rot and the brown foliage.

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason that lavenders turn brown is due to root decay. The signs of root decay are brown foliage stems, flowers and even the leaves. The root rot cause is due to excessive moisture around those roots plant as due to slow drainage of soil or excessive the amount of watering.
  • The excessive rainfall may also cause the conditions that encourage the rot of the roots in lavenders, as do high levels of humidity.
  • The most effective way to avoid the browning of lavender is by planting the lavender in a well-draining soil which has been amended with gravel or sand and limit the frequency of watering to each two weeks. Beds, pots or raised bed also offer a good drainage for lavender.
  • Transplant the brown lavender into dry soil with at least one third of in sand or gravel, up to 2/3 soil or compost, and allow it to dry out for at minimum two weeks. The lavender with root rot could be able to recover in dry soil, but it depends upon the extent of the root decay.
  • The lavender plants should be planted at least 2 from each other and remove organic matter like dead leaves that can trap moisture. Sprinkle a layer of white stones to reflect the suns rays back on the lavender to ensure it stays dry.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)