Is My Lavender Plant Dead or Dormant?

Determining whether your lavender plant is dormant or dead can be a challenging task, especially during the winter months. The cold weather can cause lavender to enter a dormant state, making it appear lifeless and leading to confusion for many gardeners.

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♬ Breathe Again – Akik Haroon

DEAD: Brittle, Brown Lavender, No Sign of Green. Leaves Fall Off Easily and Woody Stems Snap Easily:

One way to assess the status of your lavender is by gently scratching the surface of the stems. If you see green tissue underneath, it indicates that the plant is still alive and likely just in a dormant phase. However, if the stems are brown and brittle throughout, it may be a sign that your lavender has not survived.

DORMANT: Lavender is Brown, Stems & Leaves Pliable, Green Growth at Base

Another method to determine the vitality of your lavender is by checking for new growth once the weather starts to warm up. If you notice fresh shoots emerging from the base of the plant, this suggests that it is still alive and simply went dormant during the colder months.

NEEDS A HARD PRUNE: Leaves Falling off, Twigs Snapping, Green at Base

In some cases, even if your lavender appears dead on top, there might still be life in its roots. You can carefully give any dead foliage a hard prune and wait patiently for signs of new growth before deciding to remove the plant entirely.

Remember that proper care and attention can help revive seemingly dormant lavender plants. Providing adequate sunlight, well-draining soil, and avoid over-watering are essential steps in nurturing your lavender back to health if it is indeed dormant rather than deceased.

Troubleshoot Your Dead Lavender:

Clay and heavy soils will not allow for proper drainage for lavenders finicky feet and expansion of lavender roots.

Adding bark mulch, especially if it touches and retains moisture against the plant, will also be a slow death sentence.

Transplant your lavender in well draining soil and/or remove bark mulch from its bed or area and replace it with pea gravel.

Too much water from timed sprinklers or excessive rains may be killing your lavender.

Dial back on irrigation and allow the soil to dry before watering again.  Plant lavender on a slope where drainage is superior.

Lavender plants without wind block may perish from the cold Michigan winter winds.

Plant large Michigan loving bushes, such as lilacs or hydrangeas, near your lavender to prevent winds from damaging the plants.

Tree stands with heavy forest undergrowth nearby, lake effect snow from the Great Lakes or covering  your lavender will also help protect your lavender from cold winds.

Lavender enjoys nutrient poor soil.  If you fertilized your lavender heavily, your lavender may die very quickly.

Avoid fertilizing your lavender.  Dolomite lime has the perfect balance of nutrients for your lavender to thrive.

So you bought that cute little lavender topiary at the nursery and you take it home and now it is dying.

There are two most common reasons why your lavender topiary may be dying:

  1.  Lavender was not meant to be a topiary plant.  Aggressive pruning and stripping lavender's leaves prevents photosynthesis, which is required for lavender to survive.
  2. These are usually "Stoechas Lavender" which are not hardy in Michigan.

Resist the urge to buy lavender topiaries unless you plan on enjoying it for only a week!

Phytophthora is a plant pathogen that can wreak havoc on lavender plants if left unchecked. Recognizing the signs of phytophthora early on is crucial in preventing its spread and saving your precious lavender garden.

Phytophthora is a water mold that thrives in moist conditions, attacking the roots of plants like lavender. The first signs of phytophthora infection may include wilting leaves, yellowing foliage, and stunted growth. As the disease progresses, you may notice dark lesions on the stems or roots of your lavender plants.

Preventing phytophthora starts with good gardening practices. Make sure your lavender plants are not sitting in waterlogged soil and provide adequate drainage to prevent excess moisture buildup. Avoid overhead watering which can splash soil onto the leaves and introduce pathogens to the plant.

If you cover your lavender plants for the winter, you may find rodents like mice, chipmunks and voles creating beds slightly underneath the soil or in your plants.

While lavender is typically a "rodent proof" plant, you may find these rodents are appreciative of the "warm home" (plant cover) you provided for them in the winter!

Avoid covering by building fences or natural wind blocks around your lavender.

Root-knot nematodes are microscopic round worms that could munch on your lavender root systems.

You can avoid these nematodes by planting forage radish near your lavender garden!

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Lavender Farmer | Aromatherapist | Yoga Instructor at Twin Flame Lavender Farm | Vibe Aroma LLC | + posts

Renee started out as an avid real estate blogger in 2006. Opting for a less stressful life, Paul and Renee moved to Michigan in 2018 and started a lavender farm in 2019.

There are very few resources available to aspiring lavender farmers for growing lavender, lavender aromatherapy and lavender culinary infusion.

Renee hopes to change and shake up the world of lavender by sharing her knowledge and experience she has gained by being a lavender farmer and aromatherapist with lavender lovers all over the world.


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