When the lavender turns brown and looks dried up, many gardeners reflexively reach for the watering can. However, this can only lead to the death of the plant, because the Mediterranean shrub can dry up for two reasons: on the one hand, because it was not watered enough, and also because due to too frequent and incorrect watering the roots rot. Therefore, you should first investigate the cause, and only then take the appropriate measures.
Drought due to insufficient water
In our latitudes it is rather rare that lavender dries up due to drought. Garden plants are not much at risk in summer, as they develop a broad and deep root system that is able to draw the necessary moisture from the soil even in hot summers. Nevertheless, you should keep a close eye on your planted lavender during longer periods of drought: If the plants let their leaves droop, it’s time for a gush from the watering can. Potted lavender is much more at risk from drying out and does indeed need to be watered regularly – but only if the soil has already dried out superficially.
However, lavender dries up not only in the hot summer, as one might suspect, but especially in winter. In particular, the combination of sun and frost endangers the plants, because the sun evaporates the necessary moisture before the leaves can absorb it. Nevertheless, you should water only when the ground is not frozen through.
Caused by waterlogging
Far more often than due to too little, lavender dries up due to too much water. At first glance, this seems absurd – after all, how can a plant dry up, even though it is watered? The solution to the riddle is this: Too much water, as well as waterlogging, causes root rot, which causes the roots to be unable to absorb water, or to absorb enough water, and pass it on to the above-ground parts of the plant. As a result, the lavender dries out above, even though the roots are literally drowned. The plants can sometimes be saved by repotting or transplanting them.
But now how do you tell what form of drought it is? It’s relatively easy to tell by looking closely at some stems and scoring them. If the lavender has dried out due to insufficient water, the stems will also be brown inside. If, on the other hand, root rot is present, the stems are often still green inside.
Tips & Tricks
Although lavender needs little water, freshly planted bushes should still be watered more regularly and especially directly at the root. Their roots have not yet been able to anchor themselves sufficiently in the soil and are therefore not able to absorb sufficient moisture.