Lavender Turning Gray

Why Is My Lavender Turning Gray?

Wondering why your Lavender is Turning Gray?

Growing lavender should be fairly straightforward, right? A hot climate with minimal watering is the basic requirement of lavender plants. But, unfortunately, lavender can be plagued by a number of problems.

Lavender turns gray when:

  1. The plant Is infected with a fungal infection 
  2. Poor aeration 
  3. Wet or damp soil 
  4. Damage due to frost 
  5. Overwatering 
  6. Wrong pot chosen 

Causes Of Lavender Turning Gray

Lavender foliage and stems usually bear a green to a silvery color.

When conditions are not ideal for long enough, the plant will alert you by turning different colors. Out of the most alarming signs and symptoms of unfavorable conditions is graying!

Yes, if all is not well your lavender turns gray.

One common cause for your lavender turning gray is a fungal disease and the conditions that favor fungal growth. Here are some causes of lavender turning gray and how to treat it. 

Fungal Diseases

Plants that have a fungal infection can be affected in several different ways.

But one thing is for sure, it can lead to the decline and death of your plant if treatment is not offered. One specific fungus species that affect lavender is the Botrytis spp

Thriving in moist conditions, lavender fungal diseases usually affect foliage closer to the base of the plant.

In lavender, there are quite a few conditions that induce fungal infections and their harmful effects. Two of the common conditions that induce fungal diseases in lavender plants are

  1. Lack of Growing Space

Lavender is accustomed to hot sunny climates and constant air currents flowing through the leaves and plants. So naturally, when these climatic conditions are absent, it affects growth.

Not planting lavender plants far enough apart from each other can cause this adverse situation.

When plants are too close together, air cannot circulate around each plant and its leaves. As a result, airflow is reduced and the air remains humid (moist) while temperatures increase. 

Conditions such as this are optimum for fungal growth, and possibly the demise of your plant!  

Avoid fungal diseases by planting lavender in full sunlight with a gap of 2 to 3 feet between each plant. This ensures adequate air circulation between each plant to dry up any remaining moisture. 

Try your best to ensure each lavender plant is getting a full 6 to 7 hours of sunlight every day. Anything less may affect the growth of the lavender plants and in turn, this affects flower production. 

2. Wrong Soil (Soil That Stays Damp)

Another source from which a fungal infection can arise is soil.

Soil conducts heat and can warm rapidly. But water can still get trapped in-between dirt particles. In effect, a warm yet moist environment will exist beneath the soil. Much to the liking of fungi. 

Unfortunately, the roots will then fall victim to fungal infections harbored beneath the soil. But having the right soil can guard against this cause of graying lavender. 

Use porous soils that drain well to avoid the accumulation of water and moisture in the ground. Soils with a high sand or gravel content are best for lavender plants.

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Damage Due To Frost

Winters are always a testing time for plants. Although English lavenders are cold and frost-hardy, French lavenders and most hybrid lavenders are not frost-hardy!

In case you live in an area with harsh frost conditions, your lavender could suffer frost damage. 

In most cases involving lavender, frost damage may appear as gray areas at the lower stems and leaves.

After frost, snow, and freezing temperatures, a lavender plant will look battered and worn. But all hope should not be lost! 

Surprisingly a lavender can ‘rise from the ashes’ when given enough care. After winter ends, prune away the grey sections of the plant. 

This helps to get rid of damaged portions while stimulating new growth of a thicker stem. A thick and strong stem gives the lavender a better chance of surviving the next winter season.

Another way to prepare your lavender for an upcoming winter is to give it extra water. But be careful not to overwater the lavender.

Is your lavender potted? If so, you can shelter the pot and plant from wind and snow. Therefore, your plant can avoid extreme elements and frost damage. 

Overwatering or Underwatering

Lavender is water-sensitive and getting it wrong will not end well for your plant!

For the most part, your plant should be dry and not sitting in wet soil. Too much water will saturate the ground with water making it tough for your plant to thrive.

Excess water in the soil makes an ideal place for fungal infections and root rot. This can lead to the lavender plant developing grey patches from the bottom up. 

Sadly, overwatering is not the only water problem you may encounter.

Perhaps you are not watering your lavender enough! As a result, the root system may not develop properly. This then leads to droopy leaves and possible graying of foliage. 

To stay safe, water your mature lavender plant every 2 or 3 weeks. As buds develop, increase watering to once every 1 or 2 weeks.

Lack Of Pruning

Pruning is mandatory for all plants, lavender is no exception. Doing this will strengthen the stems and lengthen the lifespan of your lavender. 

Lack of Pruning can be the starting cause of making your lavender gray. The stems will become wooden and eventually split after time. The plant may even collapse and die if the stem has completely split. 

Prune your lavender bush properly at least twice a year, before winter and again when temperatures start to rise. Choose your pruning method according to the age of your lavender plant. 

Pruning aptly should also allow the plant to establish a stronger structure. Stems become thicker, harder and increase the chances of winter survival.

For a young lavender plant, prune the plant in such a way that air currents can circulate the plant. 

Prevent gray patches on lavender by pruning them correctly before winter and just before summer. Also, carry out deadheading (removal of dying flowers).

This promotes healthy growth and eliminates the chances of lavender turning gray due to a lack of air circulation within the plant.

During pruning, you may also want to cut off damaged and gray areas of the plant that are unappealing. Although everyone is not experienced in shaping a lavender bush, it will come with experience. 

Nutrient Deficiency

Sometimes the appearance and growth of a plant start to change without any changes in its immediate environment. You may even see a gradual but evident graying of your lavender plant.

What causes this to happen to your lavender?

The answer is quite simple. The absence of even one nutrient for your lavender can cause graying, wilting, yellowing, or drooping. The fact remains that until the nutrient is not provided, the plant will not grow normally. 

Check your soil nutrients using a soil kit. Make sure your soil has low to medium nutrient levels and a pH range from 6 to 7.5 which is basic. You can add Potassium to the soil to intensify the color of the flowers. 

Is your soil acidic? You can fix this by adding some lime to the soil mix, this will increase the pH level. If soil is acidic your lavender will not grow and will likely die.

Additionally, if the soil is too nutrient-rich, the lavender plant will become leggy. Production of flowers will not be possible!

Do not add fertilizers and Nitrogen to lavender soils as this stimulates foliage growth. 

Incorrect Pot 

A pot for growing lavender needs to be a certain size and made from a durable material. A few points to note about lavender pots are as follows.

  1. The pot must be between 12 and 16 inches wide and deep for the lavender to form a comfortable root system.
  2. Drainage holes are essential for removing excess water.
  3. Never put a dripping tray under a potted lavender plant! A full dripping tray can keep the pot and soil wet, thereby inviting fungal infections to grow.
  4. Use pots made from materials like clay and terracotta. These dry out fast and keep the soil dry. 
lavendar

How To Take Care Of Gray Lavender?

So perhaps your lavender plant is turning gray. Acting now can save your lavender plant before it is too late!

Here are the actions to take when caring for lavender plants that are turning gray. 

  1. To assess the damages, you must take your lavender plant out of the soil. This allows you to see if the roots have a fungal disease or if they are rotten due to overwatering. Remove rotten roots with sterile pruners.
  2. After every cut you make, use an alcohol disinfectant to kill any fungal spores and prevent spreading of the infection.
  3. Next, turn your attention towards removing all the gray areas of the plant. These could be in the form of stems or leaves. Be sure to keep this material away from live plants as they may re-infect the plant. You can burn or throw the infected (gray) plant matter away to avoid it coming into contact with healthy plants. 
  4. If you find the plant’s roots are infected, it is obvious that the soil is probably the cause for this. Discard the soil and replace it with appropriate soil that has good drainage and moderate nutrient levels. 
  5. On the other hand, treat the infected soil with a fungicide to kill any remaining fungus. Avoid using that soil and location for planting for a long time. 
  6. To transplant your lavender plant. Use soil that is free of infection risks and any potentially unsatisfying characteristics. For ideal soil, use ⅓ horticultural sand/grit and ⅔ potting mix or compost.
  7. Keep your plant in a sunny place away from rainfall. Once the root system has fully established itself, only water your lavender once every two weeks.

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Conclusion

While fungal infections are the leading cause for lavender turning gray, there can be a few more causes. 

  • Poor soils with poor drainage can be carrying fungal infective agents
  • Lack of pruning can make old growth appear woody
  • No air circulation can stimulate infections when plants are grown too close together 
  • Shortage of a nutrient can make a lavender plant turn gray due to a nutrient deficiency 
  • Choosing the incorrect pot can also play a role in graying of lavender 

Making sure your lavender plant remains healthy depends on looking at all of the aspects mentioned above.

Fungal infections that usually affect Lavender are of the Botrytis spp. This infection can be treated so do not assume the worst if you discover an infestation in your plant. Follow the steps and nurse your plant back to health! 

FAQs

Why is my lavender drying out?

A possible reason for your lavender drying out is the air temperature and the number of air currents present. If the air is hot with a lot of air currents passing the plant, it could dry out faster than normal. 

How to revive dying lavender? 

You have to make sure all the conditions are right for lavender. The soil should be dry and the plant should receive good amounts of sunlight. Watering every two weeks and nothing sooner is an important step to reviving your lavender. 

References

  1. https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/abs/10.1094/PDIS-06-21-1175-PDN