Why Is My Lavender Turning Brown? How To Solve It?

Notice your green lavender plants gradually changing color to yellow or even brown? You must be quite alarmed and wondering what could cause this drastic change! 

Often, lavender turns brown due to root rot; a condition brought about by water stagnating the roots.

Overwatering could occur in the form of poorly draining soil, high rainfall, high humidity, wrong companion plants, etc. 

Each one of these problems comes as a complication in growing lavender, but each has its own solution. Read on to find out what the issues are and how to fix them. 

When and How Long Does Lavender Bloom?

6 Reasons Why Lavender Turns Brown

Your lavender plants could turn color for a range of reasons.

But if you catch the color change early you could save your plants. Whether brown lavender is salvageable or not depends on how soon you correctly identify the problem and solve it.  

Here are some reasons for lavender browning and the solutions you can try to revive your lavender plants. 

1. Poor Draining Soil

Lavender is very particular about the soil they are grown in.

If you want your lavender to thrive, grow prolifically, and bloom, you must try to replicate its native soil. This requires you to look back at lavender’s history.

Most lavenders originate from hot climate countries, one particular one that is a lavender haven is the Mediterranean. High temperatures, dry air, and limited rainfall are a few characteristics of this location. 

But when talking about the soil profile, sand and rocks are two words that come to mind instantly. This gives us many clues as to what type of soil lavender plants like.

Soils with high levels of sand or gravel are the most ideal. As both sand and gravel aid the soil in getting rid of excess water immediately without it accumulating or stagnating.

Lavender could develop root rot from wet or saturated soils. Soil appropriate for lavender should dry out completely between watering bouts. 

Solution

Choosing the wrong soil will prove to be fatal for your lavender plants!

You must avoid using heavy soils, especially those that contain high clay concentrations. If you want to make sure your soil is good enough, you should make your own mix. 

You can use a ratio of 30:70 or even 50:50 for sand and soil. This ensures the soil is porous and fertile enough to support lavender as well as its companion plant. 

Why Is My Lavender Turning Gray?

2. Overwatering 

Another leading reason why lavender turns brown is a simple yet unexpected one.

Overwatering happens to be the leading cause of a lavender plant becoming discolored or even droopy. When you water your lavender too much, the soil becomes oversaturated.

As a result, the roots also absorb water and become soft. This is the start of many problems!

The most common one is root rot, the degeneration of roots due to excessive watering.

Once the roots are damaged, nutrients and water cannot be passed up to the plant properly. 

Solution

Wilting lavender is completely preventable if you follow a strict watering routine. Most lavender growers swear by watering once every two weeks.

But, this is applicable only to established healthy lavender plants.

Newly transplanted/planted lavender plants are very sensitive and require more attention and care. Good care must be given to these delicate plants for at least 2 or 3 weeks. This is because they are at increased risk of transplant shock. 

These transplanted lavender plants need to be watered every 2 or 3 days. After a few weeks have passed you can scale back the watering to once a week. 

During winter you need to stop watering your plants completely! During these cold months, the lavender will actually be dormant and not growing much. You can however water the plants every 4 to 6 weeks. 

If possible, try to transplant your lavender in spring. When watering your lavender make sure to water it generously once it is mature. 

Lavender is known to be drought resistant. So, giving the plants less water than more water is better.

Also, check the climate before watering. If there has been rainfall recently, slow down or even cease watering depending on the rainfall amount. 

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3. Heavy Rainfall 

A common misconception is that lavender is incapable of growing in areas that experience a lot of rainfall.

This is false since lavender is commercially cultivated in England and on farms in Washington, USA. 

But, constant climates that are opposite to their requirements will not see fit for lavender growth.

You can compensate for such climates by ceasing all watering efforts. This prevents overwatering since the plants receive whatever moisture is required from the air. 

Also in certain seasons, your lavender will naturally need protection! This could be due to snowfall, frost, hail, or rain and it is important to halt watering immediately. 

Solution

Naturally, bringing your lavender plant indoors is the best solution if you can (in the case of potted lavender). But what about grounded lavender plants?

You have two methods of preventing your ground lavender plants from turning brown:

  1. Amend the soil
  2. Plant lavender on raised beds 
  • Amend The Soil

By now you know that lavender flourishes in well-draining soil. But what makes soils like these drain well? 

Sand and gravel do not absorb water the way compost or other soils do. Thus creating a soil mix with around 50% sand/gravel would retain almost no water, just the way lavender likes it.

Plus, a mix with this composition of sand can make the plant flower better!

  • Plant Lavender In Raised Beds

Water will naturally flow or drain out of the higher area to a lower area. If you want your lavender to survive heavy rainfall, make sure you plant them on raised beds.

Plus, make sure you do this before the bad weather starts. 

Make sure you use the correct soil to make these molds. Using the wrong soil will get you back in a bad situation. 

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4. High Humidity

Air plays an important role in growing any plant. It surrounds them and can very well influence their health, growth, and survival during the winter and rainy seasons.

The increase in moisture in the air can even make a lavender susceptible to root rot. 

Pay attention to humidity if you want to assess how your lavender is reacting to the changes in the air.

When the air is saturated with moisture, your lavender won’t need much water. But when the air is dry, your plants will have to be watered once every two weeks. 

While some lavenders can tolerate the cold (cold hardy lavenders), they cannot withstand long periods of high humidity. 

Solution

If a season of high humidity is approaching, you must make sure to space your lavender plants out.

Make sure to plant them at a distance of 2 to 3 meters away from each other. This allows good airflow to circulate around the plants and carry off excess moisture. 

At all costs, avoid planting lavender too close together as the humid environment could harbor a fungal infection. This is just one of the many reasons why lavender plants turn gray. 

Also, make sure to clear away any organic matter (leaves, sticks, grass) from the base of the plants. They hold moisture that exudes out once the temperature rises.

Plus, if they decompose they could make the soil rich. This rich soil would then stimulate leggy growth and no flowers!

Another option to decrease humidity is to place white rocks around the lavender plants. They will reflect sunlight back at the plants and this can lower the humidity levels.

It also has other benefits such as increasing oil and flower production. Plus, it looks good by adding uniformity to the garden! 

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5. Growing Lavender With Wrong Companion Plants

Choosing the wrong companion for your lavender will prove to be a problem.

Yes, there are many flowering plants that would look appealing with lavender, but can they adapt to lavender’s environment? 

In most cases, the answer is no. Other plants require more water and nutrients.

If you try to accommodate and care for the other plants, your lavender could suffer the consequences. Lavender will not take well to this, they may even take to competing for space!  

Your lavender plants could turn brown if the conditions are too different from their usual conditions. This means you have to think carefully about what to plant with your lavender.

To avoid this situation from becoming a reality, here is a list of lavender companion plants and a few plants that you should avoid. 

Solution

Carefully select the plant you will be growing with lavender. They should have the same or very similar requirements as your lavender plants.

These requirements are lots of sunlight, minimal water, porous soil, and no fertilizer (organic or chemical). 

Even if you are planting your lavender with an appropriate companion plant, be sure to prune it. This makes sure that the plant will not overtake the lavender or encroach on its space and resources. 

13 Good Lavender Companion Plants and 4 Plants to Avoid!

6. Disease

Is your lavender plant in the right soil? And are you sticking to the regular two-week watering schedule?

Yet, they may still be turning brown anyway! In this case, there is every reason to suspect a disease. 

The most likely cause of disease in lavender is due to fungus. Fungal spores can easily be carried off by the air, water, or soil.

Entry of fungal spores into the lavender plants is most probable through the roots. Roots in poor condition are most vulnerable to disease. 

Infections like these can be lethal to lavender plants and it is tough to cure your plants. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to lavender diseases. 

Solution

There are a few precautionary measures you take to avoid disease in your lavender plants, they are:

  • Place lavender plants at least 2 to 3 feet away from each other 
  • Do not overwater the plants 
  • Select the position of your plants carefully, and make sure they have around 6 hours of sunlight daily 
  • Amend the soil to make it more porous, especially during the rainy season
  • Keep an eye on your plants through regular checking 

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Lavender Flowers Turn Brown Too!

Yes, that’s right, lavender flowers are not spared from turning brown!

Lavender flowers can turn brown usually due to fungal diseases, frost damage, overwatering, or the natural drying-off process.

Lavender flowers usually naturally finish blooming and turn brown after a month. This is nothing to worry about.

You should carry our deadheading (removal of flowers) to stimulate more flower production.

In fungal diseases, lavender flowers and foliage will turn brown together. This is not natural and you should start looking for ways to tackle the infection.

An infection like this could definitely mean that the roots are compromised. It could even be root rot. 

You should pull the plant up and observe the roots. This could give you an idea of how to solve the problem. 

Can Lavender Survive Winter?

Summary 

Lavender plants turn brown for a range of reasons. The most common reason is overwatering which leads to root rot.

The most obvious symptom of this condition is the browning of foliage, stems, and even flowers. 

But, it’s not just overwatering that can cause root rot. Other reasons why this condition develops are season, humidity, and poorly draining soil. 

The best way to prevent your lavender from transforming into brown lavender is to use porous soils or amend your existing soil.

You can do this by adding sand or gravel to the soil in certain ratios.

Stick to a regular watering schedule and do not water the plants outside of this routine.

Watering lavender once every two weeks is the normal cycle lavender growers use with much success!

If using pots, make sure they have enough drainage holes. If planting in the ground in an area that receives a lot of rainfall, make raised beds on which the lavender can be planted.

In all cases, make sure the lavender plants are 2 to 3 feet apart. 

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Conclusion

Keeping your lavender green and healthy will depend on how well you can control four main factors:

  1. Soil
  2. Watering routine
  3. Season (rainfall)
  4. Humidity

While you cannot control each of them perfectly, there are solutions and ways to prevent undesirable conditions for your lavender.

Being able to keep your lavender plants dry and sheltered will go a long way. 

7 Causes of Lavender Turning Yellow? (With Solutions)

FAQs

Why are my lavender plants turning brown?

A change of color from green to yellow or brown is usually a sign of root rot. This is simply a condition arising from overly wet soil or moisture from the air. These plants usually require an immediate transplant to dry and porous soil.

Does lavender turn brown in winter?

Yes, lavender does turn brown in winter, especially when the soil is overly wet for extended periods of time. Countries with cold climates that are not befitting for lavender may produce brown lavender.