How to Dry Hydrangeas for Decorating

HYDRANGEAS. They are heavenly in the garden. They make stunning fresh arrangements in a vase. But you know that sad feeling you get when they wilt and dry up and you have to toss them? Forget it! You can keep those arrangements ALL YEAR LONG. Yes, you heard me, ALL YEAR LONG! There is nothing like a pop of hydrangea florals throughout the home to make me feel all giddy inside. Its what catches my eye in a photo or magazine or in an Instagram feed. They just make a space work! For today’s tutorial, I’m working with Annabelle Hydrangeas in particular. These are at peak right now and ready for drying in late summer. The other hydrangeas that dry well are the Limelight Hydrangeas but they aren’t quite ready for drying. They get dried in the fall and I will be sure to do a follow up post on those when the time comes 🙂 So lets get to it!

These Annabelle’s line the side of my Mom’s house

The FIRST thing you need to know is this- there are a ton of methods out there that tell you how to dry them, from hanging them upside down, to leaving them in your car. But KNOW THIS- none of those techniques matter if you pick/cut them at the wrong time! THE KEY IS TIMING! If you pick them too soon, they WILL WILT or DRY BROWN! I have tried multiple methods and have failed at times because I cut them too early! If your blooms are soft to the touch, and/or white, it is too soon and they are not ready to cooperate. You must pick them when they are slightly beginning to become “crunchy” on their own. Their shade usually changes at this time from a soft white to a deeper green and you may see bits of brown crunchy pieces. This is good! This is prime pickin’ time y’all! As you can see in the first photo below, that bigger green one in the middle is ready. Its crunchy and the tips are beginning to brown slightly which adds a nice textured look. The 2 white ones on the side are soft, fresh and NOT ready-it doesn’t matter what you do with them they will wilt and not turn out correctly despite you wanting to keep that pretty white color preserved 🙁

Once you have found that they are ready, cut the stems from the shrub. I prefer to cut mine long if possible, as you may want to use in a taller vase or arrangement. You can always cut the stems down to size later but you can never add it back. Once you cut the stems, strip off all of the leaves. Some times I leave a few small ones at the top but usually they crinkle up and do not look nice and end up being pulled off later anyway. Once your leaves are all stripped off, fill up a bucket or container with water and place your stems in the water. This does not have to be pretty! You will likely have a lopsided mess of different lengths and that is ok! You can cut and arrange them nicely later. Guys it really is this easy. You simply cut the stems, strip leaves, put in a vase or bucket and let them dry up! I usually bring mine inside but my Mom left hers outside in the gazebo and they did fine. Once they are FULLY CRUNCHY they are ready to go!

You can drain your water, cut your stems to length, make your arrangement and set back in awe at the creation you just made with little effort! I have a slight obsession with Ironstone pitchers, so I generally put mine in those throughout the house. Hope this was helpful!





4 thoughts on “How to Dry Hydrangeas for Decorating

    1. Just enough water to let them drink for 3-5 days usually. Since they are already partially beginning the drying process on their own, still on the stem, they dry quite quickly. Usually only a few days!

    1. It just means to remove the leaves. I just usually take my hand around the top of the stem near the flower and pull all the way down and it strips them off.

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