Timeless and elegant, lavender is a popular herb among home gardeners in many parts of the world, beloved for its distinctive fragrance and tall spikes of delicate flowers. Although this member of the mint family is generally unfussy and requires little effort to grow, certain misjudgments can undermine your lavender’s chances.
If you’re struggling with lackluster lavender, it’s likely due to one of these five common gardening mistakes. Start avoiding them today to let your lavender thrive!
1. Forgetting to Consider Climate
Lavender originates from the Mediterranean, where the climate is sunny, warm, and arid. If that doesn’t sound much like where you live, do not worry, you can still grow lavender in your garden! Just choose a type that has been bred to succeed in an environment like yours.
There are several lavender varieties, and each has its unique climate preferences. For instance, Portuguese lavender (Lavandula latifolia) favors warm, dry conditions similar to its birthplace. In contrast, English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a hardy type, able to tolerate all but the most extreme cold if you take good care of it. Meanwhile, Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas)likes a hot and humid environment.
Pick a variety that will look stunning in your garden, but if it’s not the right fit for your climate, there is a big chance it won’t thrive. Consider growing conditions when choosing your lavender to give it a fighting chance.
Suppose you’re concerned about your lavender’s ability to withstand your climate. In that case, there are various steps you can take to improve its resilience and protect it through the seasons, such as planting it in containers or moving it indoors.
2. Drowning Your Lavender
If your lavender looks droopy, it may be getting too much or too little to drink. In most cases, well-intentioned overwatering is the culprit. Lavender is naturally drought-tolerant: it likes well-drained soil and prefers to dry out for short intervals between waterings.
Before planting your lavender (especially if your soil is clay-heavy), dig a hole wider and deeper than the root cluster. Loosen the soil around the hole and work in materials that promote drainages, such as sand, peat moss, or gravel. Avoid adding perlite and other substances that retain moisture.
If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, consider planting your lavender on top of a small mound of soil. It will encourage water to drain away from the plant rather than pooling around its base.
Planting your lavender in poorly drained soil, allowing puddles to form around it, and watering it too frequently can all lead to root rot, a common cause of lavender death.
3. Not Letting Your Lavender Get Enough Sun
The amount of sunlight a lavender plant needs will depend on the specific variety, but most need between six and ten hours of direct sun exposure per day. This guideline applies even in warm climates because lavender doesn’t like to be in the shade. If you accidentally plant your lavender in a shady area, its flowers might not grow very well and have a weaker fragrance.
Try to grow your lavender in the sunniest spot possible. Observe the area throughout the day to understand how much sun it is reaching, and when planting your lavender, make sure it faces south to get the most out of the morning and evening sunlight. Also, don’t plant it near tall plants that could steal its precious light.
Although lavender can survive with a less-than-ideal amount of sun, it won’t grow as vigorously. Insufficient sunlight is frequently why lavender plants end up stunted and lacking flowers.
4. Improper Pruning
Pruning your lavender keeps it looking and feeling healthy. If you neglect to prune, your plant may become spindly and woody, with dead flower heads rotting on the stems.
Your precise pruning schedule will depend on the variety of lavender you grow, but generally, you should expect to break out the shears twice a year.
Just make sure not to get carried away! Never prune below the woody section of a lavender stem. Cutting into this area can cause many issues, from inviting infection to damaging the lavender’s ability to protect itself through the winter. At worst, it may even shock and kill the plant.
5. Over-Fertilizing Your Lavender
Sometimes, gardeners anxious about their plants succeeding are inclined to try and pump them full of fertilizer. But like many herbs, lavender generally doesn’t need so much of it. Over-fertilizing lavender can stunt your plant’s growth.
Your lavender will most likely get what it needs from the soil. If you are worried that your soil is nutrient-poor, try giving your lavender organic fertilizer at the start of the growing season.
Lavender is a low-maintenance herb, but that doesn’t mean things can’t go awry. If your lavender is flagging, it might be the wrong variety for your region, or you may accidentally be sabotaging it through some simple mistakes.
Either way, trying again with a different type or improved care habits will likely make all the difference, putting you on track to a healthy, fragrant lavender bush you can enjoy for years to come.
Do you tend to make any of these lavender-growing mistakes? Share in the comment section below. And as always, please pass this article along!