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9 messages
09/03/2013 at 18:24

Dear All,

Last summer we had the front of our house landscaped, and as part of it we had a small border dug around a bay window for planting some low-lying shrubs etc. The contractor filled it with soil from another part of the garden. I thought it would be nice to plant a lavender hedge as it is a West facing bay and gets a lot of hot sun on it after about midday in the summer (when its not raining). The soil was fairly heavy clay I think so I tried to dig in a couple of bags of grit before planting. I planted about 16, 20-30cm bushy Lavandula Augustifolias last September.

They seemed to do quite well and got a bit bigger, then went dormant for the winter. Now as its starting to brighten up a bit they seem to be coming to life again with definite signs of new growth. BUT I am a bit worried because a lot of them seem to be developing slightly brown leaves which I have definitely not noticed before. My concern is that the soil is not draining enough - when I feel it it feels very soggy and damp. The leaf browning is only minor at the moment, but noticeable and I am concerned that this is the start of something very bad!

So my questions are:

1. Shall I do nothing and just see how they go as the weather warms up a bit? OR, is this a sure sign of poorly draining soil and do I need to act NOW before they all eventually die?

2. If i need to act, would this be the right thing to do - remove all plants, remove the soil, replace it with 50:50 mix of compost and grit, and replant lavenders. Cross fingers! ?

This is the first time I have ever grown lavender so some advice would be great! Obviously I would prefer to do nothing as to replace the soil would be quite a lot of work (although doable)

Thanks in advance!

Matt

09/03/2013 at 18:53

If the brown is lower down on the plant, don't forget that last year's growth will go woody and the lavenders will make new growth above that. It might just be old woody growth from last year that you are seeing, especially if you did not cut back your lavenders after flowering. They need to be cut back quite hard to prevent this woodiness developing.

09/03/2013 at 18:55

But once it has gone woody, if you cut back into it, you won't get new growth, so it is too late to cut it out now. Just cut back as far as you can after this year's flowers.

09/03/2013 at 19:05
Thanks - I think the brown leaves are mainly at the base of the plants. They had been pruned before I received them last September so I have not tried yet. Most of the leaves are greyish green, some are very silvery, and some are brown. Would you just leave them and see what happens?
09/03/2013 at 19:13
Leave well alone. As weather warms....and dries up....your lavender should improve. If it does recover dont be tempted to water it at all. Lavenders have not enjoyed this wet winter and few will be looking that good right now. Those brown leaves will be those from last year so I wouldn't worry about that. I agree with advice about pruning but wouldn't do any until this seasons' flowers have gone over, usually about July.
09/03/2013 at 19:14

I think they may just be old growth. Lavenders do like good drainage, though. Be aware that they are very attractive to bees and hoverflies and these may be a pain if you want to leave your windows open in the summer.

09/03/2013 at 19:15

I would be inclined to leave them. Once the growing season starts properly they will grow new leaves and the brown ones on the bottom will fall off.

09/03/2013 at 19:47
Yes I think I should give them a bit more of a chance - it has been a very wet winter over this way!
10/03/2013 at 11:10

Yes, leave well alone.  Once they come into leaf check for any stems totally dead (head to foot) and cut those out.  In the autumn clip all over with shears to leave the lowest shape you can whilst leaving green tips.  Lavender does not make new growth from old wood - it only grows above the existing green/grey leraves.

I take a few cuttings each year ready to replace any plants that have become too leggy.

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