Lavender Leaves Turning Yellow: 3 Likely Culprits & Effective Solutions

Lavender usually looks gorgeous – the green-gray foliage contrasts beautifully with the purple blooms. But it loses some of its charm when the leaves look yellow. Not only are yellowing leaves on a lavender plant unsightly, but it is also a sign of an underlying problem.

Lavender leaves turning yellow is often due to three main reasons: the soil may be too high in nitrogen due to excessive fertilizing, the soil may not be draining adequately, or you may be overwatering your lavender. The issue is almost never due to underwatering because lavender is so drought hardy.

To restore a lavender to its former glory, one first needs to figure out which of these problems is causing the leaves to turn yellow. This article will help you diagnose the underlying issue and explain how to resolve it.

Why Are My Lavender Leaves Turning Yellow?

Lavender plants are known for their hardiness. These plants are adapted to drought and grow in sandy nutrient-poor soils.

But you may be wondering: if they are so resilient, why are my lavender plants’ leaves turning yellow?

There are 3 main factors that can cause lavender foliage to go yellow:

  1. Excess nitrogen in the soil
  2. Watering too frequently
  3. Insufficient soil drainage

Lavender Plants Do Not Enjoy High Levels Of Nitrogen

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean, so it has evolved in environments with naturally poor, sandy soils. To keep lavender happy in our garden, we need to try to recreate its native growing conditions as much as possible.

Lavender does not need rich, composted soil, and they do not cope well if you fertilize them regularly. Generally, you should not fertilize established lavender plants.

High levels of nitrogen in the soil encourage the plant to grow rather than flower. Unused nitrogen can also build up in the soil as salt, and this can burn the plant’s roots.

Lavender Thrives In Drier Soil

Dry soil

If you water your lavender too frequently, it causes the foliage to droop and turn yellow because the plant develops root rot.

Established lavender bushes growing in the ground generally do not need supplemental watering as they get enough moisture from rainfall. You should only water during extreme drought periods.

In very dry climates, lavenders that grow outside only need water every two weeks during the growing season.

Potted lavenders require water more regularly than plants that grow in the ground.

If you grow a lavender plant indoors, you only need to water it every two weeks. During the fall and winter, they do not actively grow, so watering it every 6 weeks is enough.

Watering your lavender more frequently than this will negatively impact the plant.

Lavender Needs Proper Drainage

Sandy, gritty soil that does not retain a lot of moisture is ideal for lavender plants. They like to grow in soil that is on the dry side, so drainage is key to growing healthy lavender.

Soils that contain lots of organic matter are not good for lavender because they hold onto too much water.

Sandy, gravelly soil is optimal for lavender because it provides enough drainage. When you plant lavender in the ground, you should amend the soil with horticultural grit to around 18 inches deep.

If excess moisture is not able to drain away from the lavender’s root zone, the plant will develop root rot – a fungal disease that can be fatal if it is not addressed in time.

Related: Lavender Not Flowering? Most Likely Causes And 9 Solutions

How To Tell Why Lavender Leaves Are Turning Yellow

So, there are a number of reasons why your lavender plant may be looking yellow. But how does one narrow down the cause of the issue so you can intervene appropriately?

  • If your lavender’s growth is looking stretched out or ‘leggy’, has few flowers, and the leaves are looking yellow, the problem is too much nitrogen in the soil.
  • If the foliage is wilted and droopy, and it looks yellow or brown, you can be sure that the issue is water-related. Either you are watering too enthusiastically, or the soil does not drain adequately.

How To Fix Yellow Lavender Leaves?

Once you have figured out if the problem with your lavender is too much moisture or too much nitrogen, you can set about addressing the issue. Here’s how:

Excessive Nitrogen

Do you fertilize your lavender plant? If so, this is what is causing excessive nitrogen levels in the soil. Simply stop feeding your lavender and give it a thorough watering to flush some of the nutrients out of the soil.

If you do not fertilize your lavender, the issue may be that the soil is too rich and fertile. Amend it with sand, grit, or gravel to offset the high nutrient levels.

Excess Soil Moisture

Measuring soil moisture

How often do you water your lavender? You should not be watering a potted lavender more often than every two weeks during spring and summer. Established lavenders growing in the ground don’t generally need extra water, except if you live in a very arid climate or your region is in a severe drought.

If the problem is that you are overwatering, simply adjust your watering regime. Stop watering for about 3 weeks to give the soil time to dry, then water every 2 weeks or as needed. Your lavender will recover over time as the soil dries out.

If you live in a place that gets lots of rain, it is wise to grow lavender in pots because they can be moved undercover.

The key is to let the soil dry out almost totally before you water the lavender again. You can use a soil moisture probe or simply dig your finger a few inches deep into the soil and feel for moisture.

If it feels wet, wait a few more days or even a week before watering.

Inadequate Drainage

For potted lavender plants, this is quite an easy fix. Check that the pot itself has enough drainage holes, and then repot your lavender into new soil.

For the potting mixture, use 70% potting soil combined with 30% gravel or coarse sand. This gives the soil a loose, aerated structure that will drain well.

To help a yellowing lavender that is growing in the ground, you will need to uproot the plant. Use a garden fork to gently lift it out of the ground, being careful to keep as much of the root system intact as possible.

Dig the hole that the lavender was in to about 18 inches deep and amend the soil with horticultural grit or sand. Use the same 70/30 ratio. Then, replant your lavender plant, water it in well, and give it time to bounce back.

Also Check: Lavender Turning Brown: 4 Primary Causes And Effective Solutions

Root Rot In Lavender Plants

If your lavender has grown in soggy soil for a long time and the leaves are yellow and brown, it probably has root rot. This is a fungal disease that causes the roots to turn brown and black as they decompose.

Lavender is not particularly good at recovering from root rot. If you catch the disease in its early stages, you can rescue the plant by trimming away the dead roots and repotting it.

However, in advanced cases of root rot, it is (sadly) better to just get rid of the whole plant. Prevention is far better than cure when it comes to root rot in lavender plants.

Conclusion – Lavender Leaves Turning Yellow

Now that you are aware of all the reasons that lavender leaves turn yellow, you should feel much better equipped to deal with your lavender plant’s issue. Generally, the underlying cause of yellowing leaves is improper maintenance.

Always remember that lavender is a hardy Mediterranean plant that enjoys growing in dry, nutrient-poor soil. Too much pampering causes more harm than good.

As long as you do not overwater or fertilize them, and make sure the soil they are growing in drains freely, your lavender should be healthy and happy.