Drying Hydrangea Flowers: Quest for Eternal Floral Decor

When I first started to get really into gardening a few years ago I read an article that listed hydrangeas as a favorite of many seasoned gardeners. I kinda understood it because hydrangeas have such pretty flowers, but I didn’t really understand the love for them until I started growing them myself. They can take a bit to get going in the summer but once they take off they really are the gift that keeps giving. I keep most of the flowers on the plant until the following spring (check out my spring garden clean-up article) for winter interest. But I always clip a few hydrangea flowers in the summer to create fresh floral arrangements, which then gradually turn into wonderful dried arrangements that I display year-round inside my house.

vanilla strawberry hydrangea picture
Hydrangeas looking like clouds over here.

One of the great things about drying hydrangea flowers is that they will keep the same color that they had when you cut them. So, if a pink & white hydrangea flower is cut, it will dry as a pink & white flower, albeit with deeper shades than their fresh counterparts. I have a Vanilla Strawberry hydrangea that starts off white & gradually fades to pink, so if I cut them at the right time, I can capture a beautiful flower panicle with a white to pink ombre effect indefinitely. I also have an Incrediball hydrangea that starts off with white flowers that age to chartreuse green. My third hydrangea (I need more hydrangeas) is Limelight, which starts off white, then turns chartreuse & fades to pink. Needless to say, these flowers certainly put on a show.

fading hydrangea picture
I heart the fade.

Hydrangea flowers can get huge too depending on the variety. My Vanilla Strawberry & Limelight flowers can get as big as footballs & Incrediball can get as big as basketballs. For the most part, their sturdy stems can handle the weight of the flowers, but sometimes you need to do a little pruning in order for the plant to look nice & tidy. I always find that my hydrangeas can get a little wilted after summer storms, so I wait for a couple of days later to see if they bounce back before I make any pruning decisions. I always clip off any flowers that touch the ground first & then work my way up from there, removing flowers that seem to weigh down the structure of the plant. It’s best practice to keep the stems long when cutting & make a diagonal cut right above a leaf node. I also shake off the flowers before bringing them inside because bugs, particularly ants, seem to be as obsessed with my hydrangeas as I am.

vanilla strawberry hydrangea and incrediball hydrangea picture
Footballs & basketballs. Vanilla Strawberry & Incrediball.
limelight hydrangea picture
Limelight hydrangea just getting started.

Once inside, I give the stems another diagonal cut above a leaf node, remove all the leaves & put them in a vase with about 2 inches of water. This keeps the flowers hydrated during their fresh arrangement phase & allows for the flowers to dry gradually. Once the flowers are dry they can be kept in the same vase or used in other decorations like wreaths or dried bouquets. I love floral decor, so I have kept my dried hydrangeas in vases all around my house throughout the year. It’s a great way to bring your garden inside & show off what you’ve grown. I also do a late clipping in the fall & use dried hydrangeas in my Christmas porch pots.

clipping hydrangeas picture
Snip snip.
cut hydrangea picture
One hydrangea panicle clipped & ready to be defoliated.
hydrangea with leaves removed picture
Leaves be gone!

I am planning on making a couple of dried hydrangea wreaths this year. I have so many flowers coming up & I already have wreath forms, so, why not? I really enjoy making Christmas wreaths too, so it would be nice to have a couple of homemade wreaths that I could display on our front doors during the non-holiday season. It always makes me feel a bit sad taking down the Christmas wreaths, so being able to replace a Christmas wreath that I made with hydrangea wreath that I made is something that I look forward too. I will make sure to post a hydrangea wreath tutorial, so keep your eyes on this space.

hydrangea floral arrangement picture
Vanilla Strawberry already starting to dry out.
dried incrediball hydrangea floral arrangement
Incrediball incrediballing.

Even though I already have more hydrangea flowers than I know what do with, I still want more. Blue Enchantress has been at the top of my plant wishlist for years now & it continues to evade me. I saw it in a local garden center a few years ago & it has enchanted me ever since, but I keep missing it when it’s in stock. I also really want a deep purple hydrangea for my front garden which is definitely still a work in progress. But that’s the life of a gardener, we are always dreaming & planning for more. Happy gardening, everyone! 

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