Everyone who plants lavender expects it to flower and make their garden smell and look amazing! But, you might find your lavender isn’t flowering.
Reasons for lavender not flowering include insufficient sunlight, too fertile or acidic soil, excessive watering, too much pruning, using fertilizer, etc.
Other points to consider about why your lavender plants aren’t flowering are age (maturity) and the adaptability of lavender to your climate.
Let us look at the detailed reasons why your lavender might not be flowering.
Not Enough Sunlight
Lavender originates and grows best in the Mediterranean. A stand-out feature of this geographic location is its high temperatures and bright sunshine.
Lavender plants need a lot of Sun to make flowers and their oils that bear that distinct scent.
Don’t expect a good bloom of lavender flowers if your plants are not getting at least 6 hours of sunlight!
There is no way to bypass this requirement of lavender plants.
So, can lavender grow in shade? Let’s find out the answer to this common question.
No! Shade or partial shade will not suffice and lavender will make their feelings seen in the form of foliage discoloration.
You must observe your garden to find the spot that sees the most sun for the longest period of time.
When planting your lavender, make sure there are no buildings, shadows, overhanging vegetation, or trees that could block out sunlight.
But some issues might arise when sunlight is being restricted and you don’t have a sunny spot. In this case, you can even transplant your lavender to a pot.
Lavender pot plants can be moved around to benefit from the Sun throughout the day!
This should guarantee a good bloom of flowers. Plus you get to move the plants indoors when winter comes because not all lavender plants are cold and frost-hardy.
Soil Is Too Fertile
Lavender plants have unique soil requirements that most other plants would not like.
Sandy soils with low to medium fertility are the soils in which lavenders produce most flowers and potent fragrances.
Ideally, these soil conditions are native to the Mediterranean but can also be found in Spain, Italy, and France.
That does not mean you can’t grow lavender in the USA.
You can actually grow lavender quite nicely when you have the right soil and the most ideal lavender variants and surrounding conditions.
Growing lavender in soil that is too fertile will result in leggy growth. That means the plants will grow a lot of foliage but not many flowers!
You will want to avoid using rich soil if you really want flowers and the smell they create.
But what can you do if your soil is naturally nutrient-rich?
Adding sand or gravel will dim down the nutrient content of any soil. This means you can amend your soil to suit the requirements of lavender.
Creating a soil mix for lavender can be done using a 30%-50% sand/gravel composition with the rest being soil or compost.
Alternatively, you can aim for a 50:50 ratio. This ratio of soil also helps improve the draining capacity. That means water won’t sit idle and create soggy or wet soil.
Too Much Water!
You might think that giving your lavender extra water will do it well, but this is not the case at all! Extra water does more harm than good, before you know it your plants could develop root rot.
Overwatering your lavender will lead to no flowering and possibly lead to the death of your plants!
This is why it is important to stick to a watering routine to avoid overwatering. Sometimes you might not even do it on purpose, you may forget when last you gave your plants a good watering.
Either way, the results are the same and an error in memory is no excuse.
Water mature lavender plants once every two weeks to avoid making the soil excessively wet.
Potted lavender plants may require more watering or rather, watering after a shorter time span.
Newly transplanted lavender must be watered every 2-3 days for the first two weeks. After the two weeks, you can increase the period between watering.
Also, the season will influence how much water and the spacing between each watering.
During the winter season, you may have to stop watering altogether and water it once every 4 to 6 weeks.
Lavender turning yellow is another sign of excessive watering habits.
Climate and Lavender Variant Aren’t Compatible
Lavender naturally has certain climate preferences that should be met
All lavender plant requires:
- Full sunlight for at least 6 hours
- Porous soil with an alkaline pH between 6.5 to 7.5
- Infrequent watering (once every 2 weeks)
- No compost or fertilizer is required
Among all lavender variants, English lavender is the only type of lavender that can survive frost and cold.
Despite this feature, they can also fare better than the other variants in temperate climates.
French lavenders do well in arid climates and are popular in California, an area that doesn’t experience harsh frosty winters.
So, it is quite possible that the area you live in and the lavender variant that you plant may not be compatible! What is the solution to this complex problem?
You can overcome this issue by planting English lavender in your garden if you live in a cold climate.
You can also turn to planting French lavender in pots and bring it indoors when winter arrives. If you live in a milder climate, you have more lavender options to choose from.
Pruning is an important activity that helps to beautify and fortify your lavender plants. But incorrect pruning habits can be more a con than a pro.
When considering pruning your lavender, there are two important factors to take note of:
When to Prune Lavender Plants?
Lavender should undergo regular pruning twice a year. Prune your lavender in late summer after the plant’s first yearly bloom.
You can then prune the plant again in spring to tidy it up and stimulate new growth.
How Much of The Stem to Prune Off
Never prune your lavender stem to the extent that the stem is cut back all the way to the old wood portions.
Doing this would greatly decrease the ability of the plant to survive. Plus evasive pruning will also decrease the blooming capacity of the plant.
Instead, prune a few inches of the softwood to strengthen the stems for winter and stimulate full flowering ability.
Something as small as soil pH could cause a lot of problems for your plant. Hence it can also create a lot of problems for you as well!
Lavender plants can handle slightly acidic soil, but this is against their preferences.
A lavender plant will not grow or flower to its capacity in highly acidic soil, the best pH is alkaline (pH6.5 – 7.5).
It is unfortunate to hear that most garden soils are acidic (pH6) or neutral (pH7). Luckily this can be fixed to suit the alkaline pH in which lavender thrives.
To reverse the ill effects of acidic soil, you have to increase the pH to make it neutral or alkaline.
To increase a soil’s pH, you won’t need any chemical or fancy components. Simply add wood ash or lime to make the soil alkaline and more suitable for lavender plants.
Correcting the pH of the soil should be done well before planting lavender.
Using a soil test kit you can monitor and measure the pH of the soil. The ideal soil pH for growing lavender is a pH of 6.5 to 7.5.
Is Your Lavender Mature?
If your lavender hasn’t bloomed and it isn’t because of any of the reasons stated above, there could be another reason.
Did you consider whether your plant is mature enough? Your lavender may still be too young to bear flowers.
Lavender plants only produce flowers in their second year of growth.
The first year of growth goes towards becoming mature and being able to source resources for flowering and oil production.
After this time the plant will be capable of flowering and will flower every year after the first year.
Some lavenders are long-lived plants and can live for up to 15 years! You can expect flowers for the next fourteen years after the first year.
But, some lavender variants are rather short-lived and they will only bloom for another four years before they die.
Thankfully, you can replace the plants once they come to their end of life. All you have to do is master the art of growing lavender and making it bloom every year.
Lavender plants will not appreciate the extra nutrients and minerals. So, adding extra fertilizer components to the plants during growth will not be something you should consider.
Using fertilizers on lavender plants will result in leggy growth and reduce the appearance of flowers by dulling colors.
Fertilizers are usually meant to improve flowering and plant growth, but lavender is an exception to the rule.
Lavenders do not need an excess amount of nutrients to grow or produce amazing flowers. They are quite economic!
They source their own nutrients from the soil and the sandy soils have all the nutrients a lavender would need. These plants require very little!
If you don’t want to compromise your lavender flowers and their appearance, avoid fertilizers.
This includes chemical fertilizers and solid fertilizers such as organic soil mixes made from plant matter.
When Does Lavender Bloom?
A lavender plant’s bloom date depends mostly on what variant you choose. Typically all lavender blooms between summer and midsummer.
Some may bloom once in a year while others can bloom up to three times a year.
These lavender flowers can last from anywhere between a few weeks to a few months! Again this depends on the variant of lavender you select to grow.
For a detailed guide, read our article about when lavender blooms and for how long it lasts.
When conditions are not favorable for the lavender plant, it becomes stressed.
This can reduce the flowering capacity or appearance of the flowers. In some cases, the plant could put off flowering altogether.
Making sure your plants have everything they need is crucial.
Lavender plants will not produce flowers in their first year of growth. From the second year onwards it will be mature enough to start producing flowers.
But even after this, there could be several reasons why the plant doesn’t bear any flowers!
Reasons a lavender plant is not producing any flowers could be:
- Lack of sunlight
- Overly fertile soil
- Excessive water
- Climate and lavender variant compatibility
- Soil pH is too acidic
- Lavender age and maturity
- Use of fertilizer
To benefit from a full bloom of lavender flowers, you have to make your plants happy and comfortable.
To do this, every aspect of their environment and care needs to be perfectly in sync with its native conditions.
Successfully doing this will yield beautiful lavender flowers with an amazing fragrance! Are you growing lavender mainly for the smell? Read what affects the lavender smell.
How long before my lavender flowers?
It usually takes lavender plants a year to become mature enough to flower. This means lavender plants will only start flowering from their second year onwards.
There is no need to panic or become upset if your lavender does not flower in its first year! Just wait for next year!