(5 Reasons) Why Your Newly Planted Lavender is Wilting

Newly Planted lavender

The most common reason for newly planted lavender wilting is because of stress due to overwatering. Newly planted lavenders require enough water to encourage the roots to establish but too much may cause root rot which causes the lavender to wilt.

Lavenders are drought-resistant plants when established after several months, but require a key balance of watering after planting to help the roots establish.

The key is to strike a balance between watering the new lavender sufficiently to mitigate transplant shock and not watering it to the point where the soil is saturated or consistently moist.

Keep reading for a few more best practices to care for newly planted lavender and prevent it from wilting…

1. Watering Newly Planted Lavender

Watering Lavender
Lavender newly planted care

Watering newly planted lavender is all about watering consistently enough so that the roots are established without the soil being consistently moist. Lavenders thrive in hot and dry conditions after they have adjusted to their new surroundings but this will take a few weeks.

Watering too frequently will cause the soil to be moist and the plant will wilt as a sign of stress.

To ensure that your lavenders establish properly without wilting you need to know exactly how much to water them according to the conditions.

Note that you should always give lavender a generous soak when watering. Think ‘soak and dry’ rather than ‘little and often’ when watering lavender to ensure that the roots grow well and establish in the soil.

Newly Planted LavendersHow Much to Water
Lavender that is wilting:If you are watering the lavender every day then you need to reduce watering. Scale back the watering and let the soil dry out somewhat between bouts of watering. Ensure that the lavender is planted in well-draining soil, in full sun and water once every 3 days for the first two weeks as the roots establish. Scale back the watering to once every week for the first month. After a month, water once every two weeks if the soil feels dry and there has been no rainfall.
Excessive Heat:In excessive, heat newly planted lavenders require watering more frequently to prevent wilting, although the soil should be allowed to be somewhat dry between bouts of watering. Adjust your watering frequency to find this balance in your climate, but in most cases watering generously every three days should suffice for new lavenders and prevent wilt due to overly dry conditions.
Significant Rainfall:If you are in a temperate climate with overcast weather and there has been relentless rainfall then it can benefit newly planted lavender to be moved out of the rain if in pots or shelter the plant is in the garden so it does not have to endure so much rain. Soil that is consistently moist because of rainfall can cause new lavenders to wilt as they prefer well-draining soil.

There is far more risk of overwatering lavender than underwatering due to its drought-resistant nature.

Once you have scaled back the watering and the soil has a chance to dry out then the lavender should return to a more normal appearance.

2. Plant with the Appropriate Soil

Lavenders love well-draining soil as this mimics the soil conditions of their native Mediterranean range, therefore the soil should be:

  • Well-draining (preferably somewhat sandy)
  • Low to medium fertility

If the lavender is planted in heavy soil such as clay (which is slow draining) or near boggy ground the the soil could be too moist for the lavender which could be why it’s wilting and potentially cause root rot.

Dig a hole that is significantly wider than the lavender’s root ball and backfill the hole with around 1/3 horticultural sand or grit and 2/3 compost.

Horticultural sand
Horticultural sand is the best soil amendment for growing lavender.

(For more on this read my article on the optimal soil mix for lavenders.

This will ensure that the lavender soil structure mimics that of the coastal Mediterranean (which is their natural habitat) and drains the appropriate amount.

If your garden soil is heavy clay then I always recommend planting lavender in pots as you have control over the soil profile and can add sand or grit to easily create the right conditions.

Wilting lavender should start looking healthy again after a few days in new, optimal soil.

It sometimes comes as a surprise to gardeners that lavender actually prefers low to medium fertility soil.

If the soil is too nutrient-dense then the high nitrogen concentration will promote excessive stem and foliage growth with fewer flowers which can cause a wilting appearance often with yellow leaves.

Horticultural Sand or grit is the perfect soil amendment to provide the optimal balance of soil nutrients to counteract overly fertile soils or compost, to help recreate the low to medium fertility soils that lavender requires to thrive and produce strong aromas and a display of flowers.

Avoid using enriched compost when planting lavenders and add some sand into the mix to avoid high nitrogen levels which leads to a wilting plant.

3. Do not Fertilize Your Newly Planted Lavender

Avoid adding fertilizer of any kind of new lavender as fertile soil is contrary to their preferred soil conditions.

Lavenders will attain all the nutrients they require from some compost mixed in with the sand or grit as you are planting.

Added fertilizer will cause your lavender to grow leggy and wilt for the same reasons as nutrient dense soil.

Lavenders grow their healthiest, smell their best, and produce the strongest blooms in medium to low fertility soils, which is in contrast to many plants but these are the conditions that lavender has adapted to.

If you have added fertilizer and your lavender is wilting I recommend transplanting your lavender to another pot or area of the garden with new soil as a matter of urgency.

Lavenders that are stressed because of fertilizer are often more susceptible to fungal disease.

Once transferred to new soil the lavender should make a full recovery.

Compacted soil

Soil that has been overly compacted can also cause problems for newly planted lavenders. Your newly planted lavender prefers nice aerated soil so avoid healing it with excessive force after planting the lavender.

This will push all the air out of the soil which will reduce soil respiration and soil drainage, both of which can cause lavender to wilt.

Amending the soil with horticultural sand or grit rather than fine sand will ensure that the lavender soil has a more porous and open structure that allows for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide for root respiration and ensures water can infiltrate the soil.

4. Planted Lavenders in a Large Enough Pot

The only time I see newly planted lavender wilting because of a lack of moisture in the soil tends to be when they are planted in pots that are very small.

Plant lavenders in a pot that is around 12-16 inches across even if it is a smaller variety such as lavender Hidcote Superior.

If the pot is too small and made of plastic or metal then the pot can quickly heat up and drive soil evaporation to a level where the new lavender roots do not have sufficient time to absorb the water it requires and cause the plant to wilt even with the appropriate amount of watering.

Planting lavender in a pot that is 12-16 inches across ensures that the pot has the capacity for enough soil so that the lavender roots have enough space to properly establish and absorb enough water and access enough nutrients.

More soil also provides insulation for the lavender roots in cold weather.

Transplant your new lavender in to a bigger pot and give the soil a good soak so that water trickles out the bottom and the wilted lavender should recover.

To learn about which pots and containers are best read my article on choosing the right pot for lavenders.

5. Pots Without Drainage Holes Cause Wilt

Another problem for new lavenders in pots is ensuring they are well drained.

A common mistake when planting lavenders is to plant them in pots either without a drainage hole in the base or to use a drip tray to catch water as it flows out the bottom.

Pots with inadequate drainage will just collect water which causes the soil to be consistently moist. Wilting is one of the first signs of stress from soil that is too moist because the water cannot drain away.

Lavenders grow particularly well in pots as they often have more favorable drainage conditions than garden soil, but the pot must have a drainage hole in the base in order for it to grow healthy.

Transplant the lavender to a suitable pot or container and allow the soil to dry out between watering. The wilted lavender should recover in a few days.

For more information on how to care for lavenders check out my articles on lavender ‘Hidcote’, lavender ‘Munstead’, lavender ‘Grosso’, French lavender, and lavender in pots.

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