Lavender Not Thriving
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Russ Duggan
Posted on: August 17, 1998

1. I have a container "Grosso lavender" that I am very proud of and that has been growing well. I live in Tennessee (zone 7) where it is very hot and humid, but the pot is well drained and I water once or twice daily. Lately, I,ve noticed that the plant has stopped blooming. The older, longer leaves are going yellow and are easily pulled off, especially near the soil. There are many new leaves, however, that are doing fine. Is it the time of year, or is there something wrong? The plant is two years old.

There are several reasons why the lavender might be dropping bottom leaves. Since the plant has been in the same pot for two years, the soil might be getting depleted in some of the nutrients, especially micronutients. The frequent watering necessary in your climate accelerates the leaching process. Also, the frequent watering would speed up the compaction of the soil and could result in some roots dying. If the plant has grown a lot since you planted it in its pot, it may need a larger pot to support the larger plant. Leaves of all plants have a limited lifespan and will eventually die and be replaced by new leaves. If the plant becomes too top heavy and bare at the bottom, clip it down by about one third to encourage shoots from the bottom. The best time to do repotting or clipping is in the spring when the plant has the least stress then or in the future. Remember that the plant is native in a Mediteranean climate and has the least trouble during the time of year when your climate is closest to such a climate.

2. This spring I ordered a Sweet Lavender from you guys. It has grown quickly in a container. It also has little black dots on the leaves. I’ve been spraying, of course, and removing the worst leaves, but it persists. What should I do next?

I am not quite sure what you mean by spraying. If you sprayed with cold water this would have helped against a spidermite infestation – a possibility in your hot summers. If it is a fungal or bacterial problem, then the spraying would have made it worse, because it would have helped spread spores and provide for a moist surface for the spores to germinate on. In the latter case try to avoid wetting the leaves and do not spray after early afternoon to make sure the leaves are dry by nightfall. Using a fungicide such as sulphur might bring improvement. Make sure the plant has good air movement.

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