How to dry hydrangeas

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One of Summer’s most beautiful flowers – and a favorite during Faded Summer, too! – is the hydrangea! Primarily grown in shrub form (unless trained as a tree), hydrangeas have a multitude of large, fluffy blooms and – especially with the newer varieties – deep green leaves. Shrubs can become quite large and bloom colors range from light blue, purple, and periwinkle to pink (both light and dark), lime green, and white. They are a cottage garden staple!

Large, fluffy hydrangea blooms – a hardy, long-blooming star in the cottage garden!
Photo via Pixabay.

The neat thing about them – apart from their hardiness and long bloom season – is that the gardener has some control over the bloom color. Amending your soil to be more acidic (with products such as Color Me Blue hydrangea pellets) encourages blooms on the blue and purple side. Soil higher in alkaline produces blooms in the pink range.

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Hydrangea “Endless Summer – BloomStruck” – petals range from light pink to mauve to purple.

One of my favorite things to do with hydrangea blooms is to dry them so they can be enjoyed indoors throughout the winter. This process is very simple – the only trick is to harvest them at the right time.

I am tending my first-ever hydrangea bushes this year! As much as I’ve admired this plant over the years, I never had my own until now. I purchased mine on sale at Lowe’s – one blue “Endless Summer” and one pink “Endless Summer BloomStruck.” They’re a little straggly at the moment having lived at the garden center most of the summer, but I’m hoping for more blooms before first frost and looking forward to seeing how they do next year!

The first time I tried drying hydrangeas, I actually used some blooms I found on the curb in my daughter’s college town! The city had cut back some shrubs of the light green “Limelight” variety, and the blooms were in garbage bags lining the street, awaiting pick-up. Much to my daughter’s amusement (I’m sure it was amusement I detected…), I rescued a few of the blooms by tossing them into the trunk of my car.

Limelight hydrangea blooms literally picked out of garbage bags found on the curb in 2015.

I used this simple method to dry them, and they lasted over a year – going from light green to light brown – before they became too brittle and began to fall apart if I moved them.

Lily is hiding behind the blooms as they dry.

Here’s how to dry hydrangea blooms for months of ongoing beauty!

1. Harvest hydrangea blooms by cutting them from the shrubs beginning around late August into late September, when they’ve started to dry a bit naturally and have a slight papery texture, but before first frost. They will also begin to change color around this time, so you should get some interesting variety in hues. If you find that your blooms simply wilt a few days after they’ve been cut, or the petals curl as they dry, chances are they were harvested a touch too early.

Fall is the best time to harvest hydrangea blooms for drying – they’ll have variegated hues and have a slight papery texture when it’s time to cut them.

2. Cut stems to an appropriate length for your vase, and carefully cut away all the leaves. You can leave a pair of leaves at the top if you like for greenery, but you’ll need to clip them off later after they wither. Make sure each stem has a clean, angled cut at the bottom.

Carefully cut away leaves from the stems, and also make sure there is a clean angled cut at the bottom of each stem.

3. Dry the blooms by filling your vase with water and putting your stems in, making sure they all reach the water. Then just let the water evaporate from the vase gradually – when it’s gone, your blooms should feel dry and papery. You don’t even have to replenish the water!

Because of their growth habit on the shrub, hydrangea stems are rarely straight. Just put them in water and let the water evaporate over time – no need to replenish it.

4. Enjoy your blooms in a pretty vase, placed where you can see it for a long time. Your blooms will continue to dry naturally and will look beautiful for many weeks or even months!

This variety in hue is all from the same shrub!
Pretty sure every hydrangea grower puts their blooms on a pedestal 😉

Here’s an image to pin on Pinterest if you’d like to save “How to Dry Hydrangeas” for easy reference!

Have you tried drying hydrangeas before? How were your results? Do you have a favorite variety?

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