Ever seen a lavender plant that was turning yellow? But why does it happen?
Lavender turns yellow due to overwatering, lack of sunlight, incorrect soil, and when nutrient (nitrogen) levels are excessive.
Other reasons for this condition are poor pot selection, diseases/infections, and stress.
Saving your lavender will depend on finding the real cause and addressing it at the earliest!
Because you will probably experience this issue, we have compiled the reasons and the solutions to overcome them.
You will know that yellow lavender plants are not a good sign. It can be quite alarming especially since these yellow leaves will not turn green again!
You can proceed to cut off yellow lavender leaves since they will fall off anyway. Doing it early can save your plant’s energy and it can begin the healing process.
But, how can a plant begin to replenish its health when the problem has not been fixed?
It cannot until you find the flaw and amend the conditions! For this to happen, you have to be able to identify the issue and then solve it.
Reasons why lavender turns yellow and how to solve
Let us look at each of them in detail below.
1. Root Rot Due To Overwatering
Lavender does not have an excessive thirst for water!
These plants prefer drought-like conditions that exist in their natural Mediterranean habitat.
The lavender watering routine is usually watering once in two weeks for mature outdoor plants. Reducing the time span for each watering will affect the plant.
Watering a plant more than it requires will lead to oversaturation of water in the soil.
This is not ideal since lavender cannot tolerate too much water. As a result, the plant will develop a condition known as root rot.
This disease affects the roots first, making them soft and incapable of carrying out their functions.
Slowly the lavender plant will change colors from green to brown and eventually yellow.
This transformation occurs from the root stem up and is irreversible once the foliage completely turns yellow.
You must dig up your lavender plants to assess the extent of the root rot. If it is not excessive, snip away the affected areas with a sterile pair of pruners.
Then transplant them to a better location with suitable soil. The remaining healthy roots should multiply and grow.
Overcoming and preventing overwatering and root rot is possible in three ways.
– Make Sure Soil Is Porous
Sandy soils are the best fit for lavender plants. You can make your own soil mix for lavender using 30% sand or gravel and 70% soil.
Alternatively, mix the soil in a 50:50 ratio to increase porosity. Thus the soil will not have too many nutrients and will easily drain out water.
– Adding Drainage Holes To Potted Lavender
Lavender plants can’t sit in moist or wet soil! If the soil is not to blame then it must be the pot/container.
Make sure that the pot has enough drainage holes before you plant your lavender in it. If not, transplant the lavender to another container that has soil with good drainage.
– Reducing Watering Frequency
Maybe you have been watering your plants too often and root rot has developed. In this case, slowing down watering and creating a regular watering routine is essential.
To be safe, watering lavender once every two weeks is the norm. In winter increase the watering gap to 4 to 6 weeks.
2. Lavender Turning Yellow due to Disease
If you haven’t been planting your plants far enough, moisture could linger between the plants. This high humidity could be the beginning of a fungal infection.
It’s not just this, overwatering and wet soil can also create favorable conditions for pathogens.
Once an infection arises, this could lead to a range of lavender plant diseases. Each disease may affect the lavender plants differently but the symptoms are usually the same.
Wilting, browning, or yellowing of plant leaves are the most common signs of an infection. As the fungal disease progresses it will lead to lesions on the roots.
Eventually, the plant will succumb because the roots are unable to provide water and nutrients to the whole plant.
Fungal spores can be carried by insects, soil, and even the air. The best chance to avoid a full-fledged infection is to ensure conditions are not adequate for their manifestation.
This means you should –
- Space out your lavender plants at good distances (a gap of 2-3 feet is the best fit)
- Stick to a watering plan
- Plant lavender in full sunlight
- Use well-draining soils containing a lot of sand/gravel
- Keep diseased plants away from healthy plants
- Dispose of infected material properly to avoid the spread of infections
3. Too Many Nutrients!
Adding organic matter or chemical fertilizers usually helps a plant refill on nutrients that the soil lacks.
For most plants, this is an action that can save a plant, improve growth, or stimulate flower production. None of this applies to lavender plants.
Lavender does best without outside interference pertaining to fertilizers. Because of their minimal nutrient requirement, lavender plants thrive in poor-quality soils.
Giving them nutrients could possibly harm them. Even if you think you are helping them!
When you give lavender nutrients, it promotes the growth of foliage but not of fragrant oils and flowers.
If nitrogen is given to lavender, the plant could develop yellow leaves because it is not accustomed to getting nitrogen. It may already have enough nitrogen.
Your lavender plants would be quite comfortable getting their own nitrogen and nutrients directly from the soil.
If you suspect your lavender turning yellow is the work of excess nutrients, amend the soil immediately.
You can choose to transplant the lavender to another area/pot or you can fix the soil. While the first one is easier, your lavender plant is at risk of “transplant shock”.
A major symptom of transplantation is wilting or drooping of leaves and even stems.
Also, stop adding organic matter or fertilizer to your plants. It is safe to say that lavender is capable of sourcing its own nutrients from the soil.
4. Pot/Container Choice
Choosing a pot for your lavender can be tricky, especially when poor pot choice can cause the yellowing of leaves.
Any wrong decision will not be great for your lavender plant. The pot should be wide enough and deep enough.
It should also have drainage holes at the bottom to allow easy passage of water.
Lack of drainage can possibly cause oversaturation of the soil. This can then lead to root rot, something you will want to avoid.
When you pick a pot to grow your lavender you have to take everything into consideration. Size, width, depth, and drainage holes are a few.
Select a pot that is more wide and deep than you think would be appropriate. Also, make sure there are a few drainage holes at the bottom to avoid water retention.
If there aren’t any holes, make sure to create some!
Additionally, you may want to use clay or terracotta flower pots.
5. Soil pH + Drainage
Lavender plants will spend their whole life in the soil you choose! So, making sure the soil is appropriate should be a task you pay high attention to.
Unlike most plants, lavender doesn’t like rich soils and any random soil will not do! Pick the wrong soil and your lavender could yellow and die!
Soil pH and drainage, consider these two specific soil factors when understanding why your lavender is turning yellow.
You may find yourself having to create a special soil mix with specific ratios. Only when the soil contains a certain ratio of sand/gravel will it drain well.
Preferably a good ratio for sand to soil is 30:50 or 50:50.
Another important feature of soil is its pH level. An acidic pH is not good for lavender. You must do everything you can to make sure it is in the alkaline range.
That means a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 is most optimal.
Luckily there is a way to increase an acidic pH and make it more basic. Add wood ash or lime to create the pH you want.
The pH of a soil can change and you should regularly test the soil for its pH reading.
To improve lavender soils, assess the texture and test the drainage if you can. Poor drainage displays as long time spans for water to drain and water accumulation.
Prior to planting, check the pH of your soil. If the soil is acidic, add wood ash or lime to amend the soil. Don’t bother planting the lavender in soil that is acidic, the plant will not survive.
Make sure the soil is appropriate for growing lavender before you plant them.
Is your lavender getting enough sunlight? If not, yellow leaves could be a sign that your plants need more sunlight.
On average, lavenders need 6 to 7 hours of full sunlight a day.
If your lavender plant’s leaves are turning yellow due to lack of sunlight they must really be starving for sunlight!
Maybe the location you have put your lavender only receives weak sunlight, or there is something blocking the light.
Both of these conditions lead to yellowing or worse. But, there is a quick fix available for this problem. Providing your plant with more hours of sunlight should suffice.
Move your potted lavender to a sunny location that gets the highest number of hours of sun in a day.
It is okay if you don’t have this kind of ever-sunny spot in your garden. Another option is to move your pot plant two times a day to spots that are sunny.
But, what should you do if your lavender is planted in the ground? No need to worry, you can choose to transplant them.
If another plant is blocking the sun’s path to your lavender, cut a path for the sun to shine through!
7. Stress (season, transplanting, attack?)
Yellow Lavender leaves can be a sign of stress. Yes, plants suffer from stress as well!
Examples of situations in which a lavender plant could experience stress are:
- Extreme changes in climate and conditions
- Infestation or attack from pests or animals
This yellowing could be anywhere from mild to severe and finding the real cause of the problem is important.
- Make sure to care properly for lavender transplants
- Shield your lavender plants from extreme conditions (rain, hail, snow)
- If animals are attacking your lavender, build barriers around the plants
The yellowing of lavender leaves is a sure sign that something is not right. It is up to you to make sure you pinpoint and correct the problem from the source.
The causes of lavender yellowing are:
- Soil quality
- Excessive nutrients
- Incorrect pot choice
Catching the cause fast can give you the highest chance of saving your lavender plants.
Yellow lavender leaves occur for several reasons.
It could be because of overwatering, incorrect soil, excessive nutrients, stress, inappropriate pot choice, or disease. Each one has a different method of fixing.
If you are overwatering your lavender, tackling the issue immediately is crucial. Remove the lavender from the ground and transplant it to the appropriate soil. Before planting, check for root rot (soggy, brown roots) and cut them away.
Alternatively, you can amend the soil to increase its drainage properties. Add more sand or gravel to the soil.