Why Your Lavender is Not Growing

The reason that lavenders don’t grow are usually due to the absence of sunlight or planting them in the wrong soil, or cultivating a lavender plant that isn’t cold-hardy in cold climates. The lavender plant requires well-drained, sandy, alkaline soils that are nutrients low and have full sun in order to thrive.

Other problems that are common include poor drainage soils soils that are acidic over irrigation, the use of fertilizers or soils rich in nutrients and the inability to plant lavenders far enough from each other.

The most important thing to ensure that lavender grows well and lasts for a long time is to replicate the conditions that they experienced in their original habitat within the Mediterranean region of Europe.

Lavenders can be adaptable to full sun, alkaline sandy soils that have low to moderate nutrients, and frequent irrigation.

Continue reading to find out the reasons why your lavender isn’t growing and how you can take to fix the issue…

1. Not Enough Sunlight

The lavender plants require full sun in order for them to develop to their full potential. If they’re in shade, they are unlikely to grow to the fullest extent and this can be a challenge when you plant lavender hedges because there could be large gaps.

If your lavender grows located in an area that receives less than 6 hours of sunlight each day, I would suggest that you move your flowers to a more sun-drenched area or move the lavender into an outdoor pot and put it in the sun.

The more sunlight the lavender gets, the more it will develop, and the more it will blossom and the scent that emanates by the leaves will be stronger.

Lack of sunlight will slow the development of your lavender, and will not last much time, but they could last up to fifteen or more years or more if they are given the proper treatment.

lavender

2. Acidic Soil (Lavenders Prefer Alkaline Soils)

Lavenders are not able to thrive in soils that are too acidic. They can tolerate soils that are moderately acidic (above the pH value of 6.5) however they would prefer soils which are either acidic pH (7) or acidic (up up to pH 8.).

If you take a look at your garden or maybe the gardens around your neighborhood and notice plants that thrive in soils with acidity (such as azaleas, camellias and Rhododendrons) then lavenders are likely to struggle to thrive or survive for long periods of time in the soil of your garden in the event that it is not altered.

There are two choices:

  • Sprinkle some lime on the soil prior to planting again.
  • Transfer the lavender into the container or pot.

You can test your your soil by purchasing soil gauges from Amazon to determine if the soil you are in is acidic. (Read for more information about the testing of the pH of your soil and lavender levels in soils that are acidic).

If your soil is extremely acidic, the best alternative is to move your lavenders to pots instead.

The adjustment of the pH of lavender is pots is much simpler than adjusting the pH of garden soil. Add a spoonful of lime, or half an ounce of wood ash (both alkaline) to the soil mix. This will ensure that your lavender grows within the right pH range.

The lavender will be showing signs of healing in the Spring and Summer months after just a few weeks.

If your lavender is growing in soil that is acidic, then you must take action immediately as lavender won’t grow or last for long under conditions of acidic soil.

3. Not a Cold Hardy Variety of Lavender

If your lavender hasn’t begun to develop foliage in the spring and appears brown, it could have died during the winter because of root rot or frost.

In colder climates where there is Frost, snow ice and frigid temperatures in winter, it is essential to choose the right lavender plant species that will endure the winter months.

English Lavenders are among the most robust and durable in cold climates. (Lavenders Hidcote and Munstead are great options). They can withstand cold temperatures and will last for up to 15 years if they are grown in the proper conditions.

I want to emphasize the importance of planting lavenders in a well drainage soil, especially in colder climates since lavenders located in moist, cold soils throughout the winter months will probably die of root decay.

Do not plant French, Spanish or Portuguese lavenders in cold climates that have cold temperatures because their leaves are brittle and they are likely to end up dying in Winter.

The varieties of lavender that can be planted in cold climates include:

All English lavenders, including popular varieties like:

  • ‘Munstead’
  • ‘Hidcote’
  • ‘Vera’

It is also possible to find Hybrid lavenders that are also classified as cold-hardy, for example:

  • ‘Grosso’
  • ‘Provence’
  • ‘Phenomenal’

4. Soil Drains too Slowly for Lavender Roots

In general, lavender is low maintenance plants when you are able to reproduce the conditions that they have in their native Mediterranean home area.

But they are extremely specific about soil conditions. They require a light, clay soil with a rapid drain, and they will not thrive in soil that is highly compacted or contains a large amount of clay.

The clay soil drains slowly, and is far less porous than soil altered with gravel or sand. The soil needs to dry between periods of watering to ensure their roots are healthy.

If the soil holds lots of moisture, the roots are more prone to fungal diseases like root rot, which could cause the lavender to cease growing and appear to droop.

The answer is…

  1. Make sure to amend the soil for lavenders prior to planting or
  2. Plant lavender in containers, pots or beds that are raised.

When you plant lavenders in pots, you are in complete control of the soil’s profile and quickly make sure you have a soil that is well drainage and suitable for the cultivation of lavenders. Learn further about ideal soil mix to grow the lavender plant inside pots.

Alternately, you can amend the soil of your garden with the sand or grit used in horticulture prior to planting. Make a hole substantially larger than the roots of your lavender . Then to fill in the hole with a mix of 1/3 sand or grit and 2/3 compost.

This soil mix ensures that rainwater is able to drain away from the roots in a timely manner and replicates the soil conditions that are typical of Southern Europe where lavenders thrive.

If you have clay soil in your garden, I suggest moving your lavender plants to pots since clay soil in the garden is hard to modify.

Use grit for amending clay soil instead of sand since sand will combine with the clay to harden to create a cement-like texture that is difficult to remove.

5. Overwatering

Lavenders are drought-resistant plants that thrive in extreme climates that have little rainfall and well-drained sandy soils.

Lavenders that are established usually do not require additional watering unless it has been extremely hot without rain for longer than 2 or 3 weeks.

Lavenders are more at danger from excessive watering than they are at risk from inadequate watering.

If you water your the lavenders frequently (more than once each two weeks) then that the lavender isn’t growing due to stress caused by excessive the watering.

Overwatering can also cause conditions that can cause fungal illnesses like root rot. If your lavender isn’t growing and is drooping in appearance and leaves that are becoming brown, then it’s likely to be suffering with root rot.

The best solution is to take your lavender plants from the ground and cut off the infected roots that have turned brown and appear rotten using pruning tools that are sterile. Replant the lavender in fresh soil, preferably in the form of a pot (as pots naturally drain better) and don’t water your lavender until at minimum 2 weeks, and protect it from rain.

Lavender may not always recover when roots rot becomes serious The sooner you react, the greater chances that the lavender will be able to survive.

6. Lavender not Growing Straight

When your lavender is showing a lack of growth, or even excessive growth, and does not grow straight, it could be a sign of two factors:

  • The lavender plant is situated on soil too rich in nutrients.
  • The addition of fertilizer can cause an increase in nitrogen, which causes the lavender to drop.

Other indicators of stress include the yellowing of foliage and less flowers.

If the lavender isn’t growing straight, but is still showing certain blooms, then the issue is most likely stress due to excessive watering or slow draining soils.

The lavenders can be adapted to sandy soils that aren’t very rich in nutrients. In low to medium nutrients soils, lavender grows well, displays more flowers , and the scent of the leaves is more intense.

So lavenders don’t require an additional fertilizer since they develop foliage, which is at the expense of flowers. This is also true for soil that is overly high in nutrients.

The answer is..lavenders don’t require fertilizer due to their natural environment of moderate to low nutrients.

Do not fertilize lavenders. They should recover slowly and will show more flowers in the coming year. If the soil is overly fertile and has amendments to the soil, like manure (which is rich in nitrogen) I suggest amending the soil using Sand or even grit.

Sand or grit helps balance the soil’s high nutrients to recreate the ideal soil conditions found in Southern Europe where lavenders thrive.

In the course of a year, the lavender will be healthier and flourish.

Planted Too Close Together

Lavenders need up to three feet space to grow for the bigger varieties, and 18 inches in smaller ones to be able to thrive therefore, you should plant lavenders according to their dimensions (which could take up to 2 years to develop). This is due to:

  • The proper amount of space needed for every lavender allows the roots to grow properly in the soil, without needing to battle for water, space or nutrients with any other plant.
  • The proximity of lavenders to each other can cause shade one another. They prefer full sun , and don’t develop as well in shaded.
  • The proper spacing of lavender from each other ensures that each plant is able to breathe. The lavender plant is not a fan of humid conditions or spaces that are not ventilated with breezes as it increases the chance of contracting diseases.

Lavenders make great decorative hedges that are full of flowers. They can also be used as a windbreak for vegetable gardens. To find out how far to plant lavenders as hedges of different varieties of lavender, check out my article on on how to space lavenders to hedge.

If your lavenders are close, then you should consider transplanting your lavender plants (preferably in the spring or fall) to give them enough space , or think about plant them in pots that will increase the flow of air.

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 :)