Have you grown your lavender for a year (or even longer) with no blooms? That is frustrating also if your lavender looks healthy and bushy, this does not guarantee flowers. Why is this happening, and more importantly, is there any hope?
Why is lavender not flowering? The are 7 reasons that justify the lack of flowers in a lavender plant:
- Lack of sun or excess of water
- The type affects timing and frequency.
- The use of fertilizer
- Starting from seeds
- The use of growth regulators
- Excessive or early pruning
- Cold damage in early spring
What is your case?
Some gardeners I talked to claim that their lavender took more than three years to start blooming while others still do not have flowers after 5 years. Why is this happening?
Lavender, like many other plants and herbs, does require specific conditions to bloom. This is because the blooming process is very demanding. Your lavender will focus much of its current energy on producing flowers to promote pollination. If it is in the wrong condition, it will not bloom.
Sunlight for at least 6 hours is a must. Remember, it might survive even with less or in shadow as many gardeners noticed, but hardly ever it will flower. If you have it in a pot like myself, go for clay (as retain less moisture) and close to a windowsill that you can open from time to time to avoid stagnating air.
Soil should be very well-drained and aerated. Ideally should have in it, rocks, sand, and (or) perlite. Some gardeners grow it in gravel with little soil! These are all growing mediums (here for more). If you grow your lavender indoors, make sure to have one of them in your soil, as this is the only way to increase drainage in a pot. If you grow lavender indoors like me, go for a clay pot with drainage holes.
Watering is the error number one that might stop your lavender from blooming. During summer (in the North West of England UK), I water my (potted indoor) lavender around once a week. Lavender likes (and thrives) in dry soil. It should not be moist at all times. Chatting with a few lavender lovers, they told me that they grow crazily big lavender without any watering at all if outdoors (in dry climates in the USA lavender might also be found in cracks within cement pavement, crazy!)
No shade, no moist if you want your lavender to become a busy flower producers
When you buy some lavender (or lavender seeds) from the nursery or gardening shop, remember: there are around 40 different varieties (species) of lavender, as shown by the Washington State University. Hence, what you have at home is not just lavender, but it is a specific variety.
Hence, if you are at the beginning of June, for instance, and no flowers appear, it might be totally normal (especially if you live in a cool area). Some species bloom quite late compared to others!
What should you do?
Step 1 – Identify: Use one of the free apps (both for Android and Apple) to identify your lavender species. Below an article to guide you to the best apps (PlantNet and Candide)
Step 2 – When and How Many Times Lavender Bloom: Check the table below. It provides the blooming type for the most common (not all of them) lavender species. If your lavender species is not in this table, you can head in this large database in which you can check for even more varieties when it is supposed to bloom. Remember though. The flowering is not universally happening in a specific month. It also depends on your location. For instance, May in Texas is warmer than in North Dakota. If you leave in a warmer area than except blooming earlier.
When and How Many Times Lavender
Lavandula Angustifolia (Munstead)
Late May/June – it might bloom twice (if harvested)
Lavandula Stocaheas (Kew Red)
Early May to the end of July. It easily blooms 2-3 times (if pruned every time it flowers)
Lavandula Angustifolia (Nana Alba)
Mid-June: if flowers most of the time only once
Lavandula Angustifolia (Melissa Lilac)
Mid-June: if flowers most of the time only once
Lavandula Intermedia (Seal)
Lavandula Stoechas (Spanish Lavender)
From as early as April to end summer (if pruned regularly)
For instance, mine is a Spanish Lavender. Hence, I am lucky as it will bloom from early spring to late summer (I need to cut it every time it blooms, though!).
If you have one of the English lavender (Angustifolia), do not expect a bloom until late spring-summer.
Lavender is one of those plants that does not require fertilizer in general (especially if outdoor). Indeed, it can thrive in very poor soil. Lavender, in France (where it is a pillar of the essential oil industry), is grown in very dry and nutrient lean soil.
What does that mean for your lavender?
If you fertilized your lavender, chances are that the fertilizer was high in nitrogen. This happens for most of the common fertilizers you find in the shops. Nitrogen, among all nutrients and macronutrients, is the one (most) responsible for the development of new leaves and stems.
However, when you use nitrogen-heavy fertilizer, the flowering will be reduced. This is particularly true for all those plants, like lavender, that can do really well without any particular external nutrient.
Do not use fertilizer. Your lavender will be better without it. Many gardeners I talked with claimed to have grown lavender successfully for many years (one of them up to 7!) with no fertilizer.
If you want something for it (especially if you are in a container), just use once a year (spring) organic fertilizer. Why? Because organic fertilizer is way less nutrient-rich than chemical ones, good for your lavender.
Another reason justifying why your lavender is not blooming is that it is just too early. Indeed, independently from the varieties (discussed earlier), chances are that your lavender might not bloom the very first year of its life.
If you have started your lavender from seeds less than a year ago, chances are that you need to wait for the second year. If you bought it into a nursery already as a small plant, just give them a call asking when it is expected to flower and, more importantly, how old are the plants they sell.
Selling plants is business. Hence, as you can find shiny apples to which a chemical was applied to make them more “sellable”, the same is true for the potted lavender you might just have bought.
If you buy lavender in a big shop, chances are that it has undergone some chemical treatments that have boosted its bushy appearance. This is possible with growth regulators, as discussed by Oregon State University. These are chemicals naturally produced within the plants that (nowadays) are also externally provided as boosters. Some gardeners claim that such compounds might have made lavender bushier and healthy looking in the short term, but unable to flower (if not after a few years) in the long term.
Other kinds of less aggressive treatment are light and temperature-based. In other words, temperature and light exposure is controlled in order to stimulate growth. As in the chemical case (although potentially with milder effects), your lavender might struggle at first.
Bottom line? If possible, grow your lavender from seeds or buy a grown plant from a nursery if your final goal is to enjoy their colorful purple/pink (or even white) flowers as those in a shopping mall might have less chance of flowering (at least in the first two years).
Pruning is a vital activity in many herbs and plants. Lavender is one of them. Indeed, pruning is essential to naturally promote growth (a way in which lavender, as well as other plants, produces hormones) and flowering.
However, aggressive pruning can kill the plant, so prevent it from blooming (or even producing stems!). This is because you should never prune the woody part of the plant plants, especially straight after winter. Why? Two reasons. First, stems cut until the woody part will not produce new growth. Second, this will prevent brand new stems from appearing from the mass of the old woody part of the plant (that’s why you should not prune the plant too early) as discussed in this excellent article from another gardener friend.
There are countless videos online showing you how to cut lavender, below you can find a good one.
This is not a problem for indoor lavender. However, if you left it outside (or move it), it might happen to have a mild frost just a few weeks before the start of the spring (when some lavender is supposed to flower). In this case, if your lavender gets damaged, chances are that it might not produce those stems to flower in time.
What to do?
Here the priority is to save the plants. Look for new (or saved) growth near the damaged frost part. If you find it, you have good chances to recover it. In this case, then proceed to prune it and also try some layering to promote new root growth. The video below might help.
While reading around on the problem to check out with other expert gardeners on the matter, to provide you with the best information, I had the opportunity to read a few comments on the type: “some lavender species just does not bloom!”.
Of course, this does not make much sense! Every lavender needs to bloom in order to produce the flower that, in turn, can allow (as nature designed) to spread.
This is a kind of extreme case. However, in a big mall, quite a few rosemary were labeled as lavender. Why? People that work in a big mall (that also has a gardening area) do not need to be a gardener, of course. On top of that, the two plants look very similar!
In case you have the suspect that they might have confused the two (or the flower looks different from expected), check the article below!
Rosemary is an excellent plant in the kitchen (better than lavender).
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