Alright…it’s confession time. I found out how to dry hydrangeas by accident. I wasn’t trying to create a dried flower arrangement that would grace our home for years to come when I forgot to water it…but that’s what happened. In fact, quite a few of our dried hydrangeas are a result of my neglect.
So if want to know how to dry hydrangeas … and you have some sitting in a vase right now, you basically already do. Just let them drink up all their water and there’s a really good chance that in a few weeks you’ll have some dried hydrangeas of your own. However, now that I’ve dried them a few times intentionally, I’ve found out why it’s likely worked for me during my more negligent times. So I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve learned.
(By the way, there are other, slightly more involved ways to dry hydrangeas…and if you’d like to learn about those, I’ve included some links at the bottom of this post.)
What You Need to Dry Hydrangeas
- Hydrangea blooms
- Tall vase
- Water (I know…it sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me.)
- Hairspray (Again, trust me.)
How to Dry Hydrangeas…Water Method
Yes, I realize it sounds a bit backwards…using the water method to dry hydrangeas, but I’m telling you…it’s the easiest way to do it. So here’s what you do…
- Cut the number of hydrangeas you want to dry…or want to include in whatever cut flower arrangement you’re working on.
- Cut them 12-18” long. I usually make the first cut longer than that and based on where it would keep the shrub in good form…and then cut all the stems to size once I have them all together.
- By the way…after I gather up all my blooms, I point them all down and in the same direction…and then shake fairly rigorously. This will keep most of the bugs and other loose material outside…and not in your house.
- Simply grab a stem at the top just below the bloom, hold on tight and run your hand down…ripping off the leaves as you go. I guess you could go up…but if you do, you risk gaining too much momentum and ripping off the bloom too.
- I often do my de-leafing in the garden and just let the leaves stay in my beds as natural compost…but if you do it inside, strip your stems right over a garbage can…it makes for a much easier clean-up.
- Put in a Vase:
- If you want to enjoy your hydrangeas before they dry…which I don’t know why you wouldn’t, simply arrange them as you would any other flower arrangement…which will take a bit of trial-and-error from a placement perspective.
- I usually hold all of the stems in one hand…and then with the other hand move them around so that the flowers pointing up the straightest are in the middle and the smaller and/or droopy ones are on the sides. Then after eyeing their height relative to the vase I make my final cut…all at the same level.
- I’ve read that you should then mash the bottoms of your stems with a hammer to help with their water uptake…but I’ve never done that…but feel free to try.
- To keep them in place I wrap a twist-tie or a rubber band around the stems…just before putting them in the vase.
- Put them in a tall enough vase to support the length of your stems…and then tweak the positioning of the blooms.
- Add Water:
- If you don’t have a faucet that extends with a hose, I’d recommend adding the water before you add the flowers. If you do have one of those fancy faucets, do it either way.
- I’d typically fill the vase ½ to ¾ of the way full…just make sure all of the stems are well into the water.
- Depending on the condition of the flowers when you start the drying process, you may need to continue adding water until they are dry. Otherwise, I’ve found that they will wilt…and then dry wilted…which isn’t very pretty.
- So if the blooms are still fairly supple, keep watering. But once they’ve dried out…they’ll feel and look like paper…you can stop watering them.
- After a couple of weeks you’ve got a beautiful dried flower arrangement that you can enjoy for years to come. We actually have a couple on our mantel that have been there going on 9 years.
- Once your hydrangeas are fully dried, spray them down with aerosol hairspray (sorry, aerosol spray just works better than the pump spray kind…it just does).
- I used to think that this was to coat the flowers so that their color would be preserved a bit longer. But now I think it’s simply to help keep the florets together…so that they are less likely to fall off when you brush up against them…making quite the mess.
Other Tips to Drying Hydrangeas
So as you can see…drying hydrangeas is really very easy. That said, there are a few tips I want to share to improve your chances of success:
- Although you’d like to think you could dry hydrangeas when they are at their peak of color, it really doesn’t work out that way. Fresh blooms tend to wilt before they dry…it has something to do with their moisture content. So your best bet is to not cut your flowers until after they’ve already started to dry while on the bush. August into the fall is usually a good time to do that. And besides, I think hydrangeas blooms that have matured a bit are more interesting…somewhat vintage-y looking…which I like.
- Don’t cut them when they are wet. Again, this is a moisture content deal…and so if you do you’ll just increase the chances of all or parts of them wilting before they dry. So don’t cut them early in the morning or after a good afternoon rain storm.
- If you want to be fancy or if you’re not into a one-note flower arrangement, feel free to add other dried flowers to your hydrangeas…flowers you’ve bought or have dried yourself. Be crazy like that…go wild…you can.
- I’d also recommend that you put your dried hydrangeas somewhere up and out of the way…somewhere that they won’t likely be brushed up against…so not in the playroom on the table that everyone runs past. They are really just too fragile…and no amount of hairspray can keep them from breaking apart.
So there you have it…an embarrassingly easy way to dry hydrangeas. Try it…it really couldn’t be easier. And if you do, I think you’ll do it again…it’s just a great, easy, and free way to bring a little life from the outside into your home.
Please share your experiences…or if you’ve dried hydrangeas before, please share your tips.
Other Related Links
- Links to Other Methods of DryingHydrangeas:
- Post on the Different Types of Hydrangea
- Post on How to Plant Hydrangeas
- Post on How to Prune Hydrangeas: