Lavender Care: How to tell if your lavender survived the winter

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The plant will begin showing signs of green in the spring, but the exact time will depend upon your hardiness zone. By mid-april in Zone 8 most of our plants are sporting a solid green hue as the new stems emerge from the woody plant base.

It is not uncommon for sections of a plant to look grey/dead when the rest is green, then suddenly come to life a few weeks later. This is especially true for angustifolia varieties.

2 Replies to “Lavender Care: How to tell if your lavender survived the winter”

  1. Ravae Wade

    Hello, I bought my potted lavender plant about five weeks ago.
    I made a few mistakes: overwatering and not fertilizing until about 4 weeks after I got it.
    The plants are drying/dried up.
    Is there any way I can save them?

    1. Rebecca Olson[ Post Author ]

      Hello! It’s really difficult for me to tell without looking at the plants. It depends a lot on how big they were when you bought them: were they small 4″ starts that were intended to be planted in the ground (and you put them in pots), or were they larger plants that had already been potted up in bigger pots? If they were small plant starts and they are already dried out after a few weeks, chances are you won’t be able to save them. If they were larger, then their root system is more established; I’d cut back the parts you can tell are obviously dead and see if any new green growth pops up before losing hope.

      I do want to address the reason they are drying: lavender needs to be watered regularly at a young age. It just needs well draining soil (whether in pots or in the ground). I like to say “lavender likes a shower, not a bath.” So if the soil it’s sitting in is too heavy and doesn’t have good drainage, then that could be the issue. If you planted them in regular potting soil without amending it, try gently lifting the plant out and replanting it in a new soil mix of 2 parts potting soil to 1 part perlite. If you did amend the soil, then where do you have them? Are they in full sun and getting dry, or are they partially shaded and cool? If full sun, perhaps you weren’t watering them enough – again, while lavender doesn’t need a lot of water once established in the ground, it isn’t a succulent. It does need regular watering as a young potted plant – especially if you’ve got it in direct sun. If the plants are in shade and staying cool/moist, then move them to somewhere where they’re going to get at very minimum 8 hours of direct sunlight a day (but more is better). Then, go ahead and water every 2-3 days, or as soon as the soil is dry. In the summer as the greenhouse heats up and things dry out faster, I water my 4″ starts every other day and the larger 6-8″ pots no more than twice a week. The established lavender in large 5 gallon pots get watered once a week (or less). It will all depend on your climate, how hot you are, etc.

      Additionally, I don’t recommend you fertilize lavender, except potentially adding some Vitamin B or a Hydrogen Peroxide mixture to help facilitate root growth. Lavender actually prefers nutrient poor soil. We do not fertilize our plants (including our plants in pots) and they are healthy and thriving. So it’s also possible that whatever fertilizer you used harmed the young plants. If you think there’s a chance they are still alive, again, I’d gently remove them from the pot, toss out the fertilized soil, and re-pot in the soil mix I mentioned above.

      Finally, if the plants died and you want to start over, note that some lavender varieties do better than others in pots. So if your intention is to keep the plant in a pot, I’d recommend choosing a lavandula angustifolia or lavandula stoechas variety. If possible, consider a variety specifically intended for containers like “Thumbelina” or “Lavenite Petite”. Definitely avoid lavandula x. intermedia varieties, because they are larger and will not do well in captivity. Check out Lavender Care: Growing Lavender in Cold Climates – there’s a section of that blog that specifically addresses container gardening for lavender.

      Good luck, and keep me posted!

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