Lavender is one of the most popular plants around. It can be found in gardens and pots everywhere and it has a distinct scent that’s not just calming, but also pleasing to the nose.
Because of this, it can be frustrating when you go through the trouble of planting and caring for your lavender plants only for them to fail to bloom.
Luckily, there are a few different reasons why this might happen, and they’re relatively easy to fix.
It’s the Wrong Season for Lavender to Bloom
Most varieties of lavender don’t bloom year round, so if your lavender isn’t blooming, it may just be the wrong time of year.
The most common lavender varieties will start blooming in the summer – starting in May in the northern hemisphere. During autumn, winter, and spring, you may notice that your lavender plant isn’t flowering. This is completely normal, and it just means that you need to wait until the summer and see if your lavender plant blooms then.
Here is a table with what time of year lavender plants start blooming and how long they will bloom for.
|Lavender Variety||When They Bloom||How Long They Bloom|
|English (Lavandula angustifolia)||May/June/July||3-4 weeks|
|French (Lavandula dentata)||Early Spring to Fall||Nearly year-round|
|Spanish (Lavandula stoechas)||March- June||Up to 3 months|
|Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia)||June/July||Up to 2 months|
|Canary Islands (Lavandula Canariensis)||All Year||All Year|
Your Lavender Isn’t Getting Enough Sun
Another common reason for lavender plants not blooming is that they’re not getting enough sun. Lavender needs a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight to bloom properly, but eight hours is better. If the plant doesn’t get enough sun, you’ll see a lot of green leaves and few or no flowers.
You’ll also notice that the growth is sparse or leggy due to not getting the energy it needs from the sun. This might also coincide with your lavender not smelling.
If it’s too shady where you live or if your plant is in an area that doesn’t get much sun, this is an easy fix. You can either dig up and move the plant to another location with more sun exposure or (if possible) prune or move whatever is shading out your lavender plant.
If you’re growing your lavender in containers, it should be easy to move them to an area that gets more sun. If you’re growing indoors, you may either want to bring them outside during the day or invest in a grow light to give your plants the energy they need to bloom.
Your Soil Has Too Much Nitrogen
Many people make the mistake of thinking that they need to fertilize lavender plants often. While it can be (arguably) beneficial to fertilize them at the start of the growing season, too much nitrogen in the soil will cause them to produce a lot of nice, green growth but no flowers.
It’s important to avoid overfeeding your plants with nitrogen because this will inhibit their blooming process. If you’ve experienced a lack of blooms on your lavender plants after fertilizing them, this is likely the reason why.
To fix this problem, you’ll probably have to wait until the fertilizer you’ve added has been exhausted. If you’ve used a granular fertilizer and can remove it, that may be a good idea as well. The plant will use up the nutrients from its last feeding throughout the year and into next season before needing any more food.
In the future, if you want to fertilize your lavender plants, all you need to do is top dress the soil with an inch of compost and gently work it into the soil with a garden rake. That’s all the fertilizer your lavender plant will need for the year.
You Aren’t Pruning Your Lavender
The first possible reason you might not be seeing any blooms from your lavender plants is that you are not pruning them. Pruning is a crucial step for getting your lavender to bloom; it helps stimulate the plant and keeps it producing healthy growth year after year.
If you don’t prune your lavender plant, it will start to become brown and woody. Since the woody growth doesn’t produce leaves or blooms, your plant will produce less and less leaves and flowers each year it doesn’t get the pruning it needs.
Unfortunately, once a section of plant has had this happen, there is no reversing it. If you cut off a lavender stem below all of the green growth, nothing will come back from the woody stem.
Eventually, the plant will have to be dug up and replaced. This may happen as soon as after 3-5 years instead of the 15 years lavender plants are supposed to live.
Your Lavender is Getting Too Much Water
Lavender plants need to be watered far less often than most people think. Too much water can actually kill your lavender, while it’s hard to give them too little water. This is because lavender is used to growing in dry areas, and they can get root rot easily – which will prevent them from blooming.
So, if you’re noticing that your lavender isn’t flowering, it may be because they’re getting too much water. This will also usually coincide with the bottom of your lavender plants starting to turn brown (including the leaves).
To fix this problem, simply cut back on how often you’re watering your plant. When it isn’t blooming, it only needs to be watered every 2 or 3 weeks. During flowering season, you can increase that up to once or twice per week. The additional water during bloom season will help your lavender plant produce more flowers.
Your Lavender Was Damaged by a Late Frost
If you live in an area that gets cold and you’ve had a late frost, one reason that your lavender plant might not be blooming is because it was damaged by the frost.
This will likely happen in climates that are much cooler than where lavender is native. For example, lavender is usually cold hardy up to zone 5. Lavandula stoechas, however, is only hardy up to zone 6. Lavandula dentata is only hardy up to zone 8. Worst of all, Lavandula Canariensis is only hardy to around zone 9b or 10.
These more tropical lavenders are more susceptible to late frosts and can die if the cold snaps last too long. If you’re in a cooler climate, make sure you’re growing a lavender variety that is suitable to the area you’re growing it in.
If you’ve already planted, make sure you protect them from late frosts with frost blankets, hoop houses, or overturned buckets.
Your Lavender Isn’t Mature
If you’re used to growing annuals, you may be expecting your lavender plant to start blooming the first season you get it. Lavender takes between 90-200 days to mature, however, and won’t flower before then. Even when it’s mature, it will still only flower during the proper season.
What this means is that lavender may not flower until its second year.
Many people don’t realize this and they buy young plants expecting them to bloom. This is one of the reasons why many people’s lavender doesn’t bloom – they just aren’t mature enough yet!
If you have recently bought a new lavender plant, it may take a year before it produces flowers. Be patient with your new plant and allow it time to grow.
Your Soil is Too Acidic
Lavender, like many other plants, needs alkaline soil to grow properly. The pH of your soil should be between 6.5 and 8.
If your soil is too acidic, it can’t provide the nutrients that lavender needs to grow and bloom. (Meaning even if the nutrients are there, your lavender plant won’t be able to absorb them.)
Fixing this problem is easy enough: You just need to adjust the PH of your soil by adding garden lime. It may take several weeks up to a few months to get the full benefits of the lime, however, and you’ll have to repeat this process yearly to maintain the PH change.
Still, if you want to grow lavender in the ground (as opposed to a raised bed or pot), this is something that is worth doing.
You Have Clay Soil That Doesn’t Drain Well
Clay soil is notorious for not draining well. Lavender is notorious for not liking wet feet. This is a combination that is destined to end in disaster.
That’s why it’s important to take drainage into account when you’re first planting lavender. There are a few different things you can do to get your plants to grow in clay soil.
One thing you can do is amend the soil with a lot of compost – double digging to make sure it drains well to below where your lavender’s roots are. This works best if you’re growing lavender on a slope or near a french drain so the water that does drain will be directed away from your plants rather than just pooling below your plant at the border between the amended and unamended soil.
Another thing you can do is to move your plant into a raised bed filled with sand.
If you’ve already planted your lavender, either of these things is hard to do with out digging your plant up, which can further stress your plant.
If your lavender doesn’t have good drainage, water won’t be able to flow away from the plant. This will cause the soil around your plant to stay moist all the time, which will cause root rot to set in.
Root rot can end up killing your plant in the long term, and part of that process will involve your plant not blooming well, wilting, and (as mentioned earlier) turning brown near the bottom of its growth.
Do All Lavender Plants Bloom?
We have to be clear that all lavender plants bloom. You may have heard someone spreading the myth that the “true” lavender variety doesn’t bloom. This is nonsense. There are no “no-bloom” varieties of lavender.
All lavender plants are angiosperms, which means they reproduce using flowers and seeds. The different varieties may have different bloom times and lengths, but that doesn’t mean that there is a difference in whether or not they flower.
There are a lot of reasons why lavender plants might fail to bloom. When it comes down too it, all of them boil down to “your lavender doesn’t have the environment it needs to grow, and because of this it’s stressed”.
This may present as your lavender turning brown, yellow, wilting, or a number of other symptoms.
It just comes down to finding out what’s wrong and fixing it. Fortunately, most of these issues should be very easy to troubleshoot. You can go outside and see whether your plant is being shaded out or not, for example. You can check out my guide on growing lavender to compare your setup against what is ideal.
Unfortunately, depending on how severe the issue is, it may take time before your lavender plant recovers even after the problem is resolved.