Why Lavenders Don’t Need Feeding

Last Updated on November 19, 2022 by admin

Lavenders dont require any extra fertilization or feeding because theyre used to living in soils that are sandy and have low fertility soils of the Mediterranean region of Europe. The addition of fertilizer can result in the production of lesser flowers, produce less scent and develop an untidy, sloppy appearance.

Lavenders produce the highest amount of perfume, oil, and flowers, and appear their best in sandy, nutrient-poor soils that mimic their natural habitat.

The addition of fertilizers is against lavenders preference for low to moderate fertility requirements and can cause a plant to become unhealthy which may change color or appear to droop.

Organic matter, fertilizer pH too wet, cause worse blooms that are not in line with your objectives

Why you Shouldn’t Add Fertilizer to Lavenders

Lavenders originate from in the Mediterranean area in Southern Europe and thrive in the dry, always sunny regions in Southern France, Italy and Spain.

They prefer to live in sandy or rocky soils that are slightly alkaline, but they can tolerate moderate acidity. (Lavenders thrive in soils that range between the pH 6.5 to pH 7.5)

Sand and gravel offer very little or no nutritional value however they provide the perfect foundation for the lavender plant. The soil of lavenders must drain well that dont hold on to water. The open, porous texture of the soil also permits the roots to grow correctly since lavenders struggle to develop in soils that are compacted.

Lavenders can get every nutrient they require from the organic matter within the soil, with approximately 30 percent sand and 70 percent compost giving the proper amount of drainage as well as some nutrients to amend the soil to allow for lavender plant. (For more information on amending the soil, look at my article on the transplantation of lavender).

If you apply nitrogen-based fertilizer to your lavenders, the leaves of the plant will begin to turn yellow, resulting in a sloppy, untidy look. (If this happens to your lavender, read my article on what you can take action). In certain cases, nitrogen may cause burning of the roots of lavender and cause the plant to die.

The lavender plant thrives on a less is more method of taking care of irrigation and fertilizers. If you can get the right conditions, then the lavender plant can be extremely low-maintenance.

Following the right irrigation practices and placing your lavender in the most sunny spot within your yard (ideally more the 6 hours of sunshine each the day) will have a lot more positive effects in the beauty of your lavender blooms as well as the intensity of the scent than the soils fertility.

The success of lavender farming involves more than replicating the conditions of the lavenders Mediterranean home, therefore the low to moderate fertility soil with no fertilizers will produce better results.

Balancing Fertile Soils for Lavenders

Garden soils that are enriched in natural matter, or even clay are likely to be overly rich in nutrients and hold excessive water in order to make the most from your lavenders.

A surplus of nutrients in soil can encouragefoliage development but at the expense of flowers, which is against the purpose of growing lavender.

If you already have added fertilizer or you have naturally fertile soil, you could modify the soil by adding gravel or sand to neutralize the fertility increase.

Mix sand or gravel into the soil to an 18-inch depth and a width of 12 inches to allow for roots of the lavender plant when it is at maturation.

You should aim for 30 sand to 70 percent compost mix to guarantee the best soil structure and degree of fertility within the soil.

If youre in the area of clay soil, it is best that you amend the soil with gravel, rather than sand, to ensure that the soil is suitable for porous for roots that can grow. (Read my piece on growing Lavender in clay Soils to get more details).

If you are having difficulty amending your soil then you could move the lavenders into pots.

The lavenders thrive extremely easily in pots because they provide optimal drainage conditions. You can mix your compost/sand more precisely without the labor demanding task of digging into the soil.

Potted lavenders may also be moved indoors to protect them from frost in winter if its not a cold-hardy plant (English lavenders can withstand frigid winters, while Spanish, Italian and French lavenders require warm winters, and are not tolerant of freezing temperatures).

A lot of sand or gravel is better than inadequate as theyre essential for maintaining good drainage and balance fertile soils. In excess fertile or waterlogged soils can kill lavender, whereas they thrive in fertilized and well-draining soils.

Should I Apply Mulch to Lavenders?

The application of mulch is an effective method of adding some nutrients to the soil since the mulch can be broken down gradually and then release the nutrients as time passes instead of a quick-acting liquid fertilizer that would overpower the lavenders roots.

But you must be aware of two things:

  1. The application of too much mulch comprised of organic matter (such as leaf mould, compost or manure) can increase the risk of the lavender plant developing the fungal disease known as root rot. The roots of lavenders need to dry out in between watering periods to ensure that they remain healthy. Organic matter is able to store and hold water for long periods of time. If the roots of lavender get exposed to constant humidity, it will increase the likelihood of developing roots rot.
  2. Manure is a type of mulch that is high in nitrogen that encourages growth of foliage but at the expense of flowers and plants will show an appearance of drooping or the foliage will turn yellow. Manure is also quite acidic while lavenders like alkaline soils.

The balance between organic matter and sand or grit is essential for the growth of lavenders. It will provide nutrients, but also the structure and low to medium fertility conditions which lavenders require to create blooms.

The most effective way to achieve the right equilibrium is to amend the lavenders soil prior to planting it by using around 70% compost that has been well-rotted and 30 percent of sand. If your lavender has already been established, you can gently lift the plant out of the ground using a fork, and then amend the soil prior to replanting.

A mulch of wood chips or bark can be used to control the growth of weeds, keep a healthy soil structure, and also add nutrients when it breaks down in the soil.

An alternative that is organic and a good plant mulch is to apply the stones of white color (preferable limestone) in the area of the plant.

Commercial lavender cultivators place white colored stones around their lavenders in order to reflect light back to the plant , which can increase the blooming and production of oil. Lime stone also has the benefit in maintaining the alkalinity of the soil, which helps counteract acidic soils that could cause harm to the lavender.

Key Takeaways

  • Lavenders dont require any an additional fertilizer since excess nitrogen can cause the lavender to turn yellowand produce less flowers and develop an appearance of leggy.
  • Lavenders can be adapted to the low to medium fertility sandy soils of the Mediterranean region of Europe.
  • The best flowers are produced by lavenders when gardeners recreate the drab soil conditions that they experienced in their original habitat.
  • The addition of gravel and sand to the soil prior to planting lavenders can help neutralize fertile soils that are rich in nutrients to make them better suited to growing lavender.
  • Lime stone or wood bark are the most effective mulches. The bark of wood suppresses weeds, and also adds a organic fertility to the soil in the course of time. Limestone reflects sun light back to the lavender, which helps to increase the blooms and scent and also maintain the pH of your soil.


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 :)