Hydrangeas, Lavender and Friends

I’ve tried for 2 years now to grow hydrangeas and lavender, and both times my plants died.  I don’t know if it’s because I have the brownest thumb on the planet, or if I’m just not planting them in soil that’s correct for them, but either way, it bums me out.  Every year I have visions of cutting my own lavender and hydrangeas, and every year I fail.  To console  myself this year, I turned to one of my sweet friends who has a few lovely hydrangea bushes.  She’s let me cut some in the past, and she let me come over a few days ago and cut some more.  I asked just in time, because the flowers on her bush are starting to turn brown, but I got several stems that are still pretty – some pale green and some that are bluish/purple.  I’m enjoying them for a few days in one of the farmhouse milk bottles my youngest son makes, but I’ll hang them to dry soon, so I can continue to enjoy them later.

farmhouse flower display


I also broke down and ordered a large bunch of lavender on Etsy.  It smells blissful and looks so pretty.

lavender bouquet


If any of you have had lots of success growing hydrangeas or lavender, I’d love to hear your tips, or what you think I could be doing wrong (which I realize could be everything!)


lavender stems


By the way, my son has several different styles of these farmhouse milk bottles and vases available to purchase in my shop.  They are ready to ship now and make great gifts that are inexpensive! 🙂  You can find them HERE.


milk bottle vase

Tomorrow is my sweet mom’s birthday, and I wish we didn’t live so far apart, so I could hand deliver some lavender to her, but I hope she likes the gifts I sent.  Happy birthday Mom – I hope your day is wonderful.  I love you!


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  1. You made me walk outside to see if my hydrangea was still alive. I planted lavender recently and it did really well for a while then all of a sudden it died. I’m in Florida, we don’t have the beautiful big bushes of hydrangea here. When I do see bushes in yards it makes me wonder how they do it.

  2. Hi Angie – Those milk bottles are adorable. My tip to growing Lavender. JUST LEAVE THEM BE! Don’t fertilize them. They don’t like to be fussed over. They love lots of sun. Water them sparingly. One thing they don’t like is soggy feet, so they do better in drained soil. As for hydrangeas, they love water. Hope this helps.

    • Mary, we got a TON of rain early in the summer, and I do think that’s what killed the lavender plants. I’ll have to make sure the soil has better drainage if I try them again.

  3. Mary R. Florence says

    I have some beautiful, HUGE, hydrangea bushes. Some years they flower profusely and others, not so much. This year they are not so abundant, but the blossoms that are there are huge!! When it comes to drying them, I wait until late summer, cut them and put them in water and just let the water dry up and until the flowers are dried. (Do not add more water) They are beautiful.

  4. I have 2 small hydrangea bushes that were gifts, so I don’t know the variety. I live in southeast Michigan, near Lake Erie, so our winters can be rough. One tip I learned was to NOT cut them back in the Fall after they’ve lost their leaves/blooms. Just let them be. The only trimming you should do to them is if one of the stalks is completely dead – then it will easily pull out from the dirt. I’ve had new growth come out on a stalk that “looks” dead, but isn’t – so only take out the ones that pull away from the base easily. Another tip I tried last winter was to pile up dried leaves around them to protect them from snow/ice/frost. My husband encircled each of them with “snow fence” (that orange plastic stuff) & then he piled the leaves inside that. Remove all of it in early Spring.

  5. Mary is right. It could be that you need to try a different cultivar(?) for Lavender . They aren’t all the same. Make sure you plant the Lavender in lots of sun. Plant the hydrangeas as foundation plants on the shadiest side of the house. Make sure they get watered. Try a Limelight Hydrangea and a Quickfire Hydrangea. They are hardier and less tempermental than the mopheads. Go ahead and spring for the nursery plants – don’t buy them at a box store.

  6. When I asked our landscape specialist what I did to make our roses and hydrangeas grow so much, the answer was, “the right sun, the right soil, and dumb luck.” And there you have it! Hugs, Holly

  7. Hilary Elder says

    They both grow easily and in abundance here in SW France.

  8. I, too, covet lavendar and hydrangeas. I have wanted to have a huge garden of lavendar to sell at market for some time, but haven’t gotten going with it yet. I do plan to have at least one hydrangea soon, unless I end up selling my house in the next year. I’m not certain now, so don’t want to invest a lot in shrubs and perennials. Angie, I hope you give it another go with these two beautiful plants. It sound like you will get lots of tips from your followers, so you can’t fail for sure!

  9. I planted a hydrangea last year and by the end of summer, I thought it had died. This year it’s come back twice as tall but no blooms! I’m still waiting patiently 🙂 I have a brown thumb too though…

  10. Angie, I wish I could give you some of my hydrangeas…the things grow like weeds around here, quite literally, sending their runners from the garden at the back of the house all the way to the front! I’ve had to dig out three hydrangea bushes that popped up just this year alone! When you plant them, make sure you dig the hole about twice the width of the root. They like rich, porous, moist soil, so maybe you could top up the soil with some compost? They also like partial shade…they like a bit of sun early in the day and a bit shadier the rest of the day. Growing lavender is like the opposite of growing hydrangeas…they like dry almost sandy soil and lots of sun. Have you maybe tried growing lavender in a container at all? That would allow you to control conditions for them a little better. I hope that helps!

  11. Hi Angie!I really enjoy reading your blog, and yes, being a Chicago native, I so dearly miss the
    flowers that I took so much for granted; lilac, lily of the valley, hydrangea, pussy willow,
    tulips, daffodils, even the weedy dandelion….
    I live in Zone sauna which is south Florida, so I get to buy hydrangea at Whole Foods whoo hoo, and
    had the treat of seeing and smelling lavender at EPCOT in “France” , so I do have my memories of these wonderful ornamentals and have to visit the midwest soon, to see, smell and savor once again:)

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