Gardens are incomplete without at least one lavender plant. These popular perennials add a touch of purple to flower beds, borders, and everywhere in between. They are also incredibly resilient and low-maintenance, perfect for gardeners with little time on their hands for tedious or fussy plants.
However, that doesn’t mean they are without problems. Like any plant, incorrect conditions and care can lead to issues that, if not resolved in time, will lead to the demise of your plant. If your lavender isn’t looking as good as you’d hoped, take a look at these potential causes to fix it at the source.
Originating from the Mediterranean, lavender plants are accustomed to dry summers and rainy winters. They are also drought-tolerant, making them ideal for hot South African weather. They prefer their soil on the drier side and don’t often require additional watering, except in regions without winter rainfall.
If your plant is left to sit in waterlogged soil, either due to excessive rainfall, compacted soil or simply overwatering, it will start to show signs of struggle. The new herbaceous growth may droop over and become soft, while foliage on the woody base growth turns brown.
Make sure the planting area is in full sun, away from any areas where water pools. The soil should be loose and well-draining to prevent any moisture from sticking around in the soil for too long. Lavender rarely, if ever, requires additional watering once established as excessive water will only do more harm than good.
No Flowers or Fragrance
If you’ve ever dreamt of summery fields of lavender in the Mediterranean sunshine, you’ll already know these plants are fans of full sun. They need as much bright light as they can get and certainly aren’t suitable for shaded areas.
If your lavender gets less than six hours of direct sunlight every day, it won’t perform as expected. Firstly, you likely won’t see many flowers, or any at all if the shade is severe. The leaves can also start to become duller in color, losing their vigor. Finally, a sign you may not notice straight away is a change in fragrance. Lavenders in low light can also lose their scent slightly – not something potpourri lovers will be happy with.
Always plant in full sun areas – the more sunlight these perennials get, the better. Those with smaller gardens can also plant in containers, allowing you to move the plant to a sunnier spot as needed throughout the seasons.
Many regions of South Africa have moderate temperatures. However, gardeners are not strangers to occasional bouts of frost which can completely ruin entire beds if not protected.
Your lavender’s response to cold temperatures will depend on the type. English lavender doesn’t mind temperature dips and frosty evenings, but French and Spanish lavender cannot tolerate the cold as well. Frost damage can cause these types to turn brown and drop all of their foliage, with degree depending on the length of the exposure.
Choose the right type of lavender for your region or protect your plants from the cold with a frost blanket when any signs of temperature dips emerge.