Why is My Lavender Turning Brown? (5 Reasons)
Lavender, known mostly for its culinary uses, also features colorful flowers and aromatic foliage, making it a welcomed addition to any garden.
The fact that it’s rather easy to maintain increases its popularity even further.
In the right conditions, lavender is a very hardy plant and will thrive, adding vibrancy to your living environment from early summer to fall.
However, if you fail to provide it with proper growing conditions, the plant will suffer, and you may notice that your lavender is turning brown.
The change of color can happen due to various reasons, some of which are completely natural, and no reason for concern.
Still, lavender turning brown may point to improper cultivation and indicate more serious issues that should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Below, I’ll provide a brief overview of these potential causes and explain how they may affect the plant.
So, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Why Is My Lavender Turning Brown?
While the discoloration of lavender can happen for different reasons, most of them have to do with the growing conditions and the soil in which the lavender is planted.
The most common reason is excessively moist soil, which can be caused by different factors.
More rarely, lavender turning brown can happen due to adverse weather conditions, pest infestation or disease, or simply because the plant is going naturally dormant as the winter nears.
Lavender was originally grown in areas with warm climates, such as the Mediterranean, and it thrives in conditions similar to those.
This also includes the soil. Lavender enjoys porous soil, with high content of sand or gravel.
The most important thing is good drainage properties, so the water can freely flow instead of waterlogging the soil.
If the water is accumulated and the soil becomes too wet and damp, there is a risk of root rot, which hinders the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and get oxygen from the soil.
One of the consequences of this is that lavender may turn brown, and if the issue remains for a longer period, it may even die.
What to Do?
If you establish that the poor soil drainage is the reason why your lavender is turning brown, you should take measures to make the soil more porous.
For starters, if possible, don’t use heavy and compacted types of soil, especially those with a high percentage of clay.
Instead, you should look to have a high percentage of sand, up to a 50/50 ratio of sand and soil. If you’re growing lavender in a pot, make sure it’s one of the pots with good drainage.
In the case that the soil is already too moist, avoid watering it at least for two weeks and allow it to dry.
If the lavender is poted, move it to a spot where it will be shielded from rainfall.
If the root has already started to rot, remove the affected parts, and replant the lavender in a new pot with fresh soil.
The reason for wet soil may not be only its type, but also the way you water it.
If you overwater the soil, it will become oversaturated, with a similar negative effect on lavender as when it’s planted in soil with poor drainage.
It will become brown and droopy and the leaves will begin to wilt. Plus, this is another way to cause root rot.
Lavender is fairly drought-tolerant, so it needs only moderate amounts of water and during rainy periods you don’t have to water it at all.
Also, you don’t have to water the lavender too often, once every two weeks for established plants is more than enough.
The only exception is newly planted or recently transplanted lavender plants.
They should be watered once in 2 or 3 days. Finally, during winter, lavender doesn’t need any watering.
What to Do?
If you’ve overwatered your lavender causing it to turn brown, there’s really not much you can do but leave it to dry out and adjust your watering schedule.
If you notice the root rot, it’s best to replant the lavender to a new spot or in another pot with fresh soil.
Another potential cause for lavender turning brown is the high air humidity.
As the air surrounding the plant plays major role in its growth and development, less favorable conditions may negatively influence your lavender.
The biggest issue here is the increased moisture in the air, which can determine how much water your plant needs.
If you notice high humidity or live in areas where this type of climate is constant, tone down your watering, as the plant will get a fair share of the necessary moisture from the air.
Otherwise, you’re risking similar problems as described above.
What to Do?
As the weather is out of our control, the best you can do is prepare your plants well for these types of weather conditions.
One of the things you can do is plant your lavender so there’s more space between each plant.
Two or three yards of empty space between each of the plants will provide better airflow and get rid of the excess moisture.
Besides turning brown, keeping your plants too close together in a humid environment can cause additional issues.
Mainly because these conditions are perfect for fungal development, so your lavender can easily succumb to infection.
A cool trick you can use to decrease the air humidity around lavender is to surround it with white rocks.
They will reflect the sun towards the plant and, by doing so, help them keep the humidity at an acceptable level.
Wrong Plant Companions
If you have lavender in your garden, you should carefully consider which other plants you should also grow, especially in lavender’s vicinity.
While some plants may look good and visually appealing near the lavender, they could have a negative effect on its development.
Some plants require more nutrients and water and will compete and often overpower lavender for these resources.
Due to the lack of available nutrients, and often even space, the lavender may suffer and one of the main indicators of this condition will be its leaves and sometimes the entire plant turning brown.
What to Do?
Before deciding to grow another plant near lavender, do some research to find out which plant may be a good companion.
Look for plants that have the basic needs and requirements at about the same level as lavender.
Even then, make sure to regularly prune the neighboring plant, so it doesn’t occupy lavender’s space or block its access to sunlight.
If you’re taking good care of your lavender and the climate conditions are favorable, then the most likely reason for the plant turning brown will be a disease.
Most diseases that lavender is vulnerable to are fungal infections.
Fungal spores can be carried through air, soil, or water, so even if you do everything right, your plant may still suffer from fungal infection.
The most vulnerable part of the plant and the most likely entry point for the disease is the root.
The fungi that can cause most problems for lavender and cause infections are Fusarium and Shab fungus.
Both of these are the most active in hot weather and moist soil, so you should be particularly careful and monitor the plant if it grows in this type of environment.
They commonly attack the lavender when it’s already vulnerable either due to pest infestation or recent planting or relocation.
What to Do?
As there really is no cure for these fungal infections, the best thing you can do is focus on doing everything you can to prevent it before it even happens.
I already mentioned that planting lavender with a bit of space between each plant will provide better air circulation and less humidity.
As moist environment is a perfect breeding ground for fungi, make sure to plant the lavender in soil with good drainage properties and avoid overwatering it.
Plus, you should look to locate the plant in a spot where it can get enough sunlight, meaning that it should be directly exposed to the sun for at least six hours a day.
If lavender is already infected, remove affected portions or discard the entire plant.
Also, you should get rid of the infected soil and disinfect the pots and tools you were using.
Lavender turning brown can be very frustrating for every gardener, as it can be a sign of serious issues troubling this plant.
While this may happen for natural reasons, as the plant becomes dormant during the winter, typically the main cause is too much moisture in the lavender’s environment.
This can be caused by poor drainage of the soil, overwatering, or air humidity.
Luckily, most of these problems can be dealt with rather easily, but you should do it as soon as you notice that the plant is turning brown.
If you wait too long, the moist environment may contribute to fungi development and lead to an infection that is much harder to fight against, and may often mean that you have to discard the entire plant.