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8 Signs of Overwatered Lavender (And How to Save It)

Overwatering is one of the few issues that can kill your otherwise drought-tolerant lavender. You’ve overwatered your lavender if the potting soil is always wet and the leaves turn yellow.

You can save your overwatered lavender by:

  • Letting the soil dry out and not watering as often
  • Root rot can be treated by cutting off all the affected roots using a fungicide or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Putting on rooting hormone before repotting in a new pot with potting mix that drains well.

What Does Overwatered Lavender Look Like?

Lavender wilts from overwatering, as excess water deprives roots of oxygen and hindering normal physiological activities
Lavender wilts from overwatering, as excess water deprives roots of oxygen and hinders normal physiological activities

If you have overwatered your lavender, your plant will first display lushness due to water surplus.

However, if the condition persists, the leaves of your overwatered lavender will turn yellow, often starting from the lower foliage upwards.

Your lavender can also experience wilting and leaf drop and may have saturated soil with a bad rotting smell.

Besides that, the leaves of overwatered lavender turn yellow, often starting from the lower foliage upwards. Your lavender can also experience wilting and leaf drop and may have saturated soil with a bad rotting smell.

Overwatered lavender will appear wilted and droopy with yellow or brown leaves. The roots will be mushy, red to dark brown, and produce a rotting smell. As a result, your lavender may lose that gorgeous color you love.

Underwatered versus Overwatered Lavender?

Both are giving too much and too little water will eventually affect your lavender. However, overwatering is more likely to kill your lavender than underwatering.

Indoor lavenders are more susceptible to overwatering damage. Meanwhile, outdoor specimens, particularly those growing in garden containers, tend to falter from underwatering.

Unfortunately, you may find it difficult to tell the difference between these two watering problems. However, despite showing almost the same symptoms, you can determine whether your lavender is suffering from overwatering or underwatering by carefully examining it.

Step #1 – Check the Foliage & Flowers

As with most plants, lavender communicates its displeasure and stress mainly through the leaves. 

However, as a drought-resistant plant, your underwatered lavender may not show much in the way of symptoms.

The few leaf signs of underwatering may include drooping, slow growth, and dry browned edges. The leaves may also feel dry, crunchy, or crispy on their surfaces, especially in severe cases. 

Your underwatered lavender may drop flowers or fail to bloom entirely. If left unattended, underwatering will cause your lavender to dry up and die.

On the other hand, the leaves of overwatered lavender will show spectacular symptoms. First, watery bumps will appear on the leaf undersides, followed by the yellowing of leaves. Finally, the foliage may develop water-soaked tips.

Eventually, the leaves will turn brown or develop spots that will cause them to die back and fall off the plant. If the leaves are wilting yet you’re watering your lavender, overwatering is the problem.

Step #2 – Check the Soil

It pays to check the soil to see whether the leaves are yellowing, drooping, or wilting. If the soil is constantly wet or soggy, you’ve got overwatered lavender!

On the flip side, underwatered lavender will have patched or bone-dry soil. Depending on the severity of underwatering and the soil type, it may be dusty, compacted, or crusted.

Step #3 – Monitor the Growth of your Lavender

If you’ve noticed that your lavender has experienced slow growth and produces small distorted leaves, you’re likely dealing with underwatering.

However, overwatering may be to blame if your lavender stops growing entirely.

Step #4 – Inspect the Roots

When you don’t water enough, the soil gets hard, drying out and killing the roots. Therefore, the roots will appear thin, crushed, and dry. In addition, you’ll get an earthy or dusty must from the soil.

On the other hand, underwatering suffocates the roots, causing them to decay and develop root rot. Therefore, they’ll look dark brown or blackened, feel mushy, and smell awful.

Signs of Overwatered Lavender

Overwatered lavender may display various symptoms above and below the soil line, depending on the severity of the overwatering. The earliest warning signs typically show on the foliage, so inspect the leaves regularly.

[1] Lavender Leaves Turning Yellow

Leaves turning yellow are often among the first things you’ll see if you’ve overwatered your lavender. Why?

Root damage — Lavender roots cannot breathe in overly wet or soggy soil. Therefore, they suffocate, cease functioning, and fail to deliver the water and vital nutrients your lavender needs to grow and survive.

In this respect, overwatering hampers the functioning of your lavender’s root system.

As a result, it won’t take long before your plant suffers from nutrient deficiencies. Leaves turning yellow, in particular, are caused mainly by nitrogen deficiency.

Leaf damage — Chlorophyll degradation and leaf damage that occurs during the early stages of overwatering (edema) may cause leaves to turn yellow. 

Typically, if the lower leaves on your lavender turn yellow and the yellowing progresses upwards, the culprit is most likely overwatering.

[2] Leaf Wilting

Most species of lavender are highly tolerant of drought. So, wilting is more likely to indicate stress due to getting too much water rather than too little.

The roots of an overwatered lavender plant cannot absorb and transport water efficiently due to suffocation. Therefore, things will go south quickly if you don’t rectify the issue.

Yes, your lavender will look lush and perky in the earliest stages of being overwatered.

But when the roots have been damaged, your lavender will look wilted, floppy, and droopy despite your best attempts to keep it well-watered. Don’t be surprised if the wilted leaves start dropping off the plant.

[3] Lavender Wilting

Overwatered Lavender Leads to Root Rot and Causes the Plant to Wilt

Wilting is typically a sign of a severe overwatering problem that has led to root rot. You may first notice some browning and wilt of a few lavender branches and leaves.

As the root rot advances, more of your lavender will wilt, and your plant will eventually die. The rot disease decays the root tissue, rendering your lavender’s root system unable to absorb water and essential nutrients.

In overwatered lavenders, wilting usually goes hand in hand with drooping, and the branches appear limp despite wet soil. In addition, the wilted leaves will often brown or appear rotten before falling off.

[4] Lavender Soil is Always Soggy or Wet

Overwatering kills the roots and creates the perfect conditions for fungal growth & development.

Rot infection will cause the roots to decay, die back, and be unable to absorb water from the soil.

As a result, the lavender soil will stay wet, soggy, or sodden for longer than usual. The situation will worsen if your plant is planted or in low-light conditions.

If the pot has a saucer, cachepot, or drip tray, you may notice that excess water will continue to drip into it for days, if not weeks.

What’s worse, your lavender will languish from dehydration despite the abundance of moisture in the soil.

[5] Smelly Lavender

If you’re like me, you treasure your lavender for its charmingly sweet fragrance. Sadly, root rot will spoil the party by decaying the root tissues.

If it has reared its ugly head, you will get a whiff of a sour or rotten-egg smell from your plant.

[6] Browned Mushy Roots

If you dig up your lavender, you’ll find highly soft, if not mushy red to dark brown roots. That’s a sign of root rot due to prolonged overwatering.

Aside from smelling horrible, the roots may sport some brown or black lesions on roots where fungus spores develop.

[7] Brown Spots on Lavender Leaves

Most fungal diseases affecting lavenders prefer cold, wet, or humid conditions. That is why they often infect the foliage of overwatered lavender plants. 

Soil-borne pathogens like Phytophthora spp., Pythium spp., and Rhizoctonia spp often cause these fungal rot diseases. They often infect roots injured by overwatering before advancing upwards to the foliage.

Overwatered conditions are also ideal for fungal leaf spot diseases. They typically start as small watery brown spots that expand or bleed into one another to form larger, dark brown patches or scars.

The leaf spot disease often appears first on the backs of lower or older foliage. You might see yellow rings around the brown spots.

Don’t expect heavily brown-spotted leaves to turn green again – it’d be wise to snip them off with sterile pruners.

[8] Mold Growth on the Soil Surface

If you find a lot of mold or mildew growth on the soil’s surface or your lavender, the chances are high that the ground is filled with excess moisture.

These fungal spores require highly moist environments to inoculate and grow.

All the mold growths will create a gray or white fuzzy blanket that covers the growing medium, container, and even the lowest branches.

How to Revive Overwatered Lavender

Step #1 – Stop Watering your Lavender

The first action you should take is to stop giving your lavender more water. Assessing the root system to determine the watering problem’s severity is also essential.

Uprooting or unpotting is the only effective way to know the extent of damage below the soil line. Gently remove your lavender from its pot and inspect the root ball.

Step #2 – Allow the Soil to Dry Out

Allow overwatered lavender to dry, promoting root aeration and recovery from water stress.
Allow overwatered lavender to dry, promoting root aeration and recovery from water stress

You’re one lucky duck if nearly all roots are still intact and root rot hasn’t developed. Next, take your lavender to a brighter spot to allow the soil and your plant to dry.

Lavenders prefer things on the drier side. So you may not have to water your plant for weeks. Wait until the soil has dried through before you irrigate again.

Then, allow at least an inch of topsoil to dry out between waterings.

Step #3 – Prune Away Affected Roots

As mentioned, root rot will take hold of your overwatered lavender due to prolonged overwatering. As a result, the affected roots will feel soft or slimy and look brown or blackened. 

It would be best to prune out every infected, dead, or affected root. You want to get rid of the problem once and for all. For this, only firm and white roots should stay.

Step #4 – Trim off Affected Lavender Parts

Using this opportunity to eliminate everything that can affect your lavender’s health, growth, or ornamental value.

Aside from infected roots, you should also cut away all affected leaves, flowers, branches, and other parts. Prune out any dead branches and collect any fallen or dead plant matter.

Always use sterile pruners or needle-nose shears. At the end of your clean-up, only healthy lavender parts should remain. 

Step #5 – Apply Protective Fungicide, Root Growth Booster, and Hydrogen Peroxide

The truth is that pruning out infected roots doesn’t eliminate 100% of the fungal pathogens.

So, for further assurance, you’ll need to dip the roots in a fungicide drench to eradicate the remaining pathogens and prevent future infections. I recommend a copper-based fungicide for this task.

Dipping the root ball with hydrogen peroxide will introduce antifungal properties. You can also lightly dust the roots with some activated charcoal and cinnamon.

Cinnamon pulls double duty. It boasts natural antifungal properties and can help stimulate root growth. Talking of promoting roots, you can also apply a good root growth promoter.

Step #6 – Repot your Lavender

You’ll need to pick or buy a well-drained sterile pot. I don’t recommend reusing the old container as it may hide some pathogens.

Instead, ensure the new pot is unglazed and has several drain holes and a saucer to catch drippings.

Now you can repot your lavender following these steps:

  • Start by filling the container halfway with fresh potting soil. You may mix some hydrogen peroxide into the potting medium.
  • Ensure the potting soil isn’t crumbling out of the bottom drain holes
  • Plant your lavender in the middle of the container
  • Fill the container with more potting soil around the lavender
  • Consider pressing the earth down a bit to boost stability

How to Water your Lavender

When watering your lavender, drench it enough to run out of the bottom drain holes. Remember to empty the drip tray once your lavender has drained thoroughly. 

After that, allow the first two inches of lavender soil to dry out during the growing season before the next watering. 

To check the soil’s moisture level, stick a pencil or index finger into the potting medium to be around 2-3 inches deep.

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