How to Dry Hydrangeas

Little Limelight Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are my favorite flowers. We had them at our wedding, so I have a sentimental spot for them. And right now, my Little Limes are in my favorite stage.

I love them when they start turning colors, with just this little bit of pink blush on them.

When to Cut Your Hydrangeas

September in Iowa is about the right time to cut the blooms. You don’t want to cut them from the plant too early, when they’re still white/lime green, or they will wilt when they start to dry out.. The ideal time to cut them is when the blooms start to darken a bit, and feel papery.

Do not pick flowers for drying after a rain, or in the morning when dew is still on them. If they have too much moisture in them, they will droop before they dry out.

Cut & Then Remove Stems

I used my garden shears to cut them, leaving a nice long stem attached for easier arrangement. I was selective about which blooms I cut, to leave a nice shape and appearance to the bush. I still want them to look pretty outside too, since these particular bushes are right in the front of the house.

Then, just use your fingers to pluck off all the leaves.

Before I brought them in the house, I gave each branch a good shake, to get rid of any loose bits and bugs.

The Water Method

I know it seems counter-intuitive to put water in the vase when you’re trying to dry flowers, but allowing the water to slowly evaporate is the key. It ensures the flowers stay full and retain their color.

Fill a vase with two or three inches of water and add the hydrangeas. Make sure the stems of the hydrangeas are completely submerged.  

The blooms will start to dry as the water evaporates. If the water starts to gets slimey before evaporating, dump it out and replace it to the same level it had decreased to. The goal is to let the water evaporate slowly.   

Smith Phillips Semi Porcelain Urn

I wanted to put my hydrangeas in my office, in this beautiful Smith Phillips antique urn. But because this urn is circa 1920, I didn’t want to put water directly in it. Instead, I filled this plain glass vase with my water, and set it right now inside the urn where you can’t even see it.

This makes it easy to lift it right out and keep an eye on the water level as it evaporates.

My 100-year-old urn also has a hairline crack in it, so the vase-inside-the-vase trick allows me to use the urn, while still protecting it.

While your hydrangeas dry, avoid direct sunlight, so the color doesn’t bleach out. Over time, the heads of the hydrangeas will become dry and crisp, which means they are done. You can then use them in all of your flower arrangements, with no water required from this point forward.

Spray Them With Protector If You Choose

When your hydrangeas are completely dried, they will last for at least a couple of years. One trick I use to prolong their life, and prevent little pieces from falling off, is to spray them with hairspray. Yes, hairpray. An aerosol kind with a fine mist works best. Just spray them lightly–avoid spraying to the point that they become wet.

You can also buy a protector spray (like THIS one) if you want, but I find that hairpsray works just as well, and you likely already have some on hand.

Isn’t the mixture of cream, lime green, and rosey pink so pretty? As the flowers dry, they will get a bit of a sepia color to the edges of the petals.

I have 5 different hydrangea bushes planted around our property, to allow me plenty of flowers to leave on the bushes for outdoor charm, but also for clipping and enjoying inside all year long.

Midsummer hydrangeas can be clipped and brought inside to enjoy when they are in their peek color. Early to mid fall is ideal for clipping and drying inside, as explained in this post. Plus, allowing them to dry on the bush gives beautiful fall interest to your outside landscaping. Last year, my dried hydrangeas stayed on all winter long, and were so pretty in contrast to the snow, and surrounded by my fresh Christmas greenery.

Happy Gardening!

Resources:

Professional Sharp Bypass Pruning Shears

Brown Willow Basket

My gardening basket was my mom’s, but this one is similar.

This post contains affiliate links.

18 thoughts on “How to Dry Hydrangeas

  1. Thank you for the tips! My hydrangeas did not bloom this year!! My husband pruned them in the early spring, and apparently they only bloom on old wood? Yours are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing at Embracing Home and Family! I hope you will continue to join us!

  2. My hydrangeas are ready to be dried. Because of our rainy summer, the blooms are on the small side but they’ll still look cute in an arrangement. This year I’m going to try the hairspray protection, haven’t done that before. Thanks for the tip!

  3. I love hydrangeas. They are one of my favorite flowers. And I especially love them dried. I didn’t know the trick about putting them in water. I will have to try that. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for sharing these great tips, Niky! I never knew about using hairspray as a preservative. Congrats! You’ve been featured this week at Celebrate Your Story! Link Party 🙂

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