Lavender Turning Brown: 4 Primary Causes And Effective Solutions

A beautiful blooming lavender bush can be a showpiece, whether in a pot on a kitchen windowsill or outside. The lush purple blossoms set amidst a sea of green-grey leaves to perfection fill with the air with the scent of lavender lend a familiar, homely atmosphere to summer. Lavender is a hardy plant, so what should you do if you notice the plant turning brown?

The most common cause of lavender turning brown is root rot caused by poor drainage or excessive watering. Other causes may be related to humidity caused by overcrowding or too much moisture in the air. A lavender plant may also turn brown if it does not receive enough sunlight.

If you notice any discoloration of your lavender plant, the most important thing is to act quickly to correct conditions. Lavender plants can live and thrive for several seasons, so keeping your plant healthy will give you many years of fragrant, colorful lavender blossoms.

Lavender Turning Brown

Lavender feild

Lavender plants thrive in summer weather. They need space, fresh air, and sunshine to maintain their sweet-smelling foliage. With any exotic plant, it is a good idea to try to imitate the plant’s natural environment as closely as possible to keep it in excellent condition.

These popular plants originate from the sandy Mediterranean coastal regions and southern Europe. Lavender’s rugged beauty and hardy nature make the plant a popular addition to hot coastal settings. Its ability to thrive in sandy areas with very little water while producing multiple fragrant violet blooms has made lavender a popular plant.

Not all lavender plants are the same species, and some differ slightly in overall color and leaf shape. However, they all thrive on similar hot, dry conditions, so when things go wrong, and the plant begins to discolor, the cause is usually consistent.  You can be sure that it is either water or temperature related.

Four main factors could be responsible for the lavender plant looking unhealthy and becoming brown. These are:

  • Incorrect Soil
  • Overwatering
  • Humidity
  • Insufficient sunlight

Let’s look at each of these as a possible cause of your lavender turning brown and discuss the remedies for each so that you can quickly step in to save your gorgeous plant.

Lavender Turning Brown As A Result of Incorrect Soil

Soil for lavender

Since we all know that lavender is a hardy plant, you might have been tempted to use regular potting soil, which might be too rich for your coastal-loving plant. Lavender requires dry, free-draining, sandy, or even gravelly soil.

Rich, potting soil or organic fertilizers can cause moisture to become trapped around the roots, encouraging the development of root rot. This condition will not only turn the plant brown but will eventually kill the plant entirely. You can mix in up to 25% coarse grit or perlite to multipurpose soil to improve the soil’s drainage.

Ensure that if you are planting lavender in a container, the drainage holes are open, and all excess water can quickly drain away. If you are growing it outside and your area is prone to long periods of wet weather when the soil may become water-logged, try to raise the bed and add plenty of grit or mix some rocks in the ground. 

Lavender Can Turn Brown As A Result Of Overwatering

Lavender Turning Brown overwatering 1

Lavender thrives in dry environments and is fairly drought resistant. Watering should be kept to a minimum. It is a much better idea to err on the side of underwatering than possibly killing the plant if fungus forms around the root. A sick plant will quickly start showing signs of brown discoloration of the foliage.

Although newly planted lavender needs to be watered regularly, the watering routine can be cut back as the plants’ roots become established. Outside plants should hardly ever require watering. Inside plants should be watered regularly, especially in hot weather, but the soil must allow all excess water to drain away quickly.

Also Check: Lavender Turning Gray: 4 Likely Causes And Effective Solutions

Lavender Can Turn Brown As A Result Of High Humidity

If the air is warm and dry, your lavender can thrive. These plants hate being damp and will quickly start discoloring or rotting if the humidity around the foliage becomes too high.

Lavender should never be misted or kept in areas where humidity levels are high. Water only around the roots and let the foliage remain dry.

When kept as borders or hedges, discoloration may occur if lavender is planted too close together. This can drive the humidity around the plants up and cause them to lose their bright silvery grey color. They should be planted 2 – 3 feet apart so each plant can enjoy full exposure to the available sunlight and not become cramped in as they grow.

A good tip if planting lavender outside is to remove all organic matter like leaves that may have accumulated on the plant’s roots and cover with a light, reflective stone. This will look attractive, and the stone will reflect the sunlight up to the plant, which will help keep it dry.

Lavender Can Turn Brown As A Result Of Not Enough Sunlight

Lavender plants will quickly become sickly if they don’t get enough sunlight. These sun-loving plants must have a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, especially during spring and summer.

If your lavender is turning brown, try moving its container to a position where it will receive additional sunlight.

What To Do If Your Lavender Plant Is Turning Brown

The most common cause of lavender plants turning brown is the development of root rot. This can be a difficult problem to cure, so preventing it by watering sparingly is best. However, if you suspect that your lavender plant has developed root rot, you will need to act quickly.

Move the plant out of its current containers into a new dry medium that contains 1/3 sand or gravel mixed with the soil. When removing the root, do not wash it off or add any further moisture to the affected area. If you can see any visible mushy spots, try to cut them out using a sterile knife.

Next, plant the root into the new soil and don’t water it for at least a week or two. There is no guarantee that a lavender plant will recover once this condition has set it, but creating unfavorable conditions for the growth of this fungus may give the plant enough time to recover.

If your lavender plant is outside and you’ve noticed that it is becoming brown, there may be too much rainfall, and water cannot quickly drain away from the plant’s roots. You can remedy this by creating more favorable drainage conditions for the plant by raising the beds or mixing stone into the soil around the roots.

Check that your lavender plant is getting plenty of direct sunlight and the foliage is not becoming damp and unable to dry out. Remove all dead steams from past seasons and cut away a few stems if the plant is excessively crowded – good airflow is important to prevent damp from building up on the leaves. Lavender plants planted as borders should be spaced at least 2 feet apart.

If you live in a colder region, lavender may start becoming brown as the weather cools. Move the container to a sheltered position. Ensure that moisture does not build up around the roots, even during the cooler season.

There are not a lot of pests that may cause your lavender plant to turn brown. It is a hardy, pest-resistant plant, and any damage caused by pests, like rosemary beetle, will be visible on the leaves.

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The most likely cause of lavender turning brown is the development of root rot. This condition can be prevented by adding extra drainage material to the soil, watering sparingly, and raising beds if it is growing outside. The beautiful fragrant lilac-flowered plant requires at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily and dry, airy conditions to thrive.