A Hydrangea Morning ~ Drying and Propagating

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Silk hydrangeas make for a beautiful Dining Room Centerpiece.

And they are oh so pretty picked fresh from the garden, like these hydrangea in a blue Ball jar.

I also enjoy decorating with dried hydrangea, but most of mine have been cut from the bush, already dried and brown, like these Hydrangea in the Keeping Room.  They are pretty but I want to dry some fresh cut from the bush while they still have color.

A good friend of mine has hydrangea bushes that are huge.  Her house was built in the early 70's and she thinks the bushes were planted by the original owners. Year after year these two hydrangeas, planted side by side, are full of huge and beautiful white blooms.

Last year I cut some hydrangea from her bushes, but it was after the blooms had dried on the bush and was brown.  Since it's mid-August and the flowers are just beginning to show signs of turning colors, I wanted to cut some for drying, so she said to come on over.

You'll have to forgive me for the iPhone pictures, it rained last night and I was soaking wet by the time I finished cutting, so I chose the quick and easy way to take these pictures.

Huge hydrangea bushes!

Huge hydrangea bushes!

I have heard many suggestions for drying hydrangea, there are many ways to do it, so I am using the water method.  Most folks will say the flowers need to be dry when cutting them, but I always soak my freshly picked flowers in water to get rid of any bugs, so they end up wet anyway.  There are too many places bugs can hide in fresh garden flowers and the last thing I want crawling out while eating supper is a bug!  So I always soak them in cold water and shake off as much water as possible before placing them in a vase.  It rained last night so these flowers were already wet when I began cutting them...these hydrangea bushes are more than 12' tall and the blooms are huge...which means I ended up getting soaked too!

Prior to clipping hydrangea for drying you'll need:

--A way to transport the cut flowers
--Two large containers for soaking the flowers to get rid of bugs
--Depending on how many hydrangeas you cut you'll need a good number of vases of varying heights, each filled with about 4" of water
--A place with no bright sunlight for the vases of hydrangea to dry for up to a couple of weeks

This was my process:

1) Using my garden clippers I cut the hydrangea stems about 18" long.  Some stems were a little shorter, but I tried to cut them as long as possible.

2) Remove all the leaves from the stems.

3) To transport the flowers home I used large produce boxes from Costco.  After cutting and removing the leaves on each hydrangea, I began lining the bottom of the box staggering three flowers on the left side and three on the right side (stems would overhang the box) and then began a second and third level of flowers per box.

4) Once back home I filled two large containers with cold water, you'll notice the bucket and trash can in the picture below.

5) To clean bugs from the hydrangea I placed several flowers in each container of water, bloom side down, the stems sticking up out of the water.  After soaking for a minute or so the June bugs, earwigs and other bugs start appearing on the blooms and in the water.  I just scoop them out and get rid of them.  

6)  One at a time, I lift the hydrangea out of the water by the stem, letting the water drip off of the flower and back down into the container.  While still holding them stem and the flower over the container of water, I would give it a good shake or two while it's upside down to remove as much water as possible.

7)  Having already filled vases of various heights with about 4" of water I would turn the hydrangea over and place the stem under the water just enough to clip stem to the length I desired.
What is the desired length? 
Some stems are straight and some are curved.  Some flowers were uniform in shape and some are not.
I cut the stem length based on how I thought I could best use that hydrangea in an arrangement once it was dried.  Vases of varied heights ensure the vase can help support the flower whether the stem is long or short.

8) They need good air circulation so don't put too many blooms in each vase.

9) Once the water has evaporated the hydrangea should be dried, but if not you can add a bit more water.

How to Dry Hydrangea  and Propagate Hydrangea

I cut a lot of hydrangea.
More than likely I'll bring some of these gorgeous blooms in the house while they are drying, but for now they are in the garage; it gets light but no direct sunlight.
Since I soaked each bloom to get rid of bugs, I have a fan running to help the water evaporate off the blooms faster.  It isn't blowing directly on the hydrangea and I don't know that it is necessary because I always wash my fresh from the garden flowers before placing them in vases for centerpieces and they always do just fine drying slowly, but I figured it couldn't hurt.

When cutting the hydrangea a few of the large flowers snapped off of the stems and I couldn't let them go to waste, so after getting the bugs off I placed them in the side of a corrugated box to help hold them straight up while drying, seen on the back of the bicycle.  They aren't in water, so we'll see how they do.

How to Dry Hydrangea  and Propagate Hydrangea

Because my friend's hydrangea bush is so beautiful I took a couple of cuttings to propagate.  I would love to have one in my garden, so I sure hope this works!

I cut a branch that didn't have any flowers on it, just leaves.

From the leaf tip end I cut down about 6" and removed all the lower leaves so at least two leaf nodes were visible.  

Then I cut the leaf tops off, leaving just the lower part of the leaves.  (Less leaf = less stress on the plant)

After placing a coffee filter in the bottom of a plastic pot with holes for drainage (the filter keeps the dirt in the container), I filled the container with potting soil.

I then watered the dirt in the container so the soil was really wet and then placed the the hydrangea clipping in the moist soil.

Using twigs from the yard I inserted them in the four corners of the container to keep the Ziploc bag I would be covering the cuttings with away from the plant.  I used gallon sized bags but cut the zip off.

The final step before covering with the plastic was to water the hydrangea clipping again with a solution of ferti-lome blooming and rooting food.  I already had this on hand.

ferti-lome How to Dry Hydrangea  and Propagate Hydrangea

The clippings are on the porch so they will get bright light but no direct sunlight.
Here's hoping!

How to Dry Hydrangea  and Propagate Hydrangea

After all was done I sat down by the pond to feed the fish and enjoy a cool glass of water!

Backyard Pond

Hope you are having a great week so far!

Check out this week's features and inspiration at Amaze Me Monday!


  1. I am amazed at your beautiful flowers! How wonderful to be able to grow your own. I tried last year, but grew very few.

  2. I've never done much drying, other than some funeral flowers and I just turned them upside down. I'm guessing yours will turn out much better, but I do still have mine... and they are from 1997.

  3. Ahh I love Hydrangeas! Your blog is beautiful!
    XO Ellen from Ask Away

  4. Thanks for the how to on cuttings. I am going to try it. We have 2 in the front of deep rich colors and a very large white one in the back. I want more!!!

  5. I love hydrangeas. But I've never been able to keep them alive long enough to bloom for some reason.

  6. I wish I could grow Hydrangeas. It gustiest to darn hot here. Thank you for partying Cindy!

  7. Thank you Cindy for sharing this post. I adore dried hydrangeas, I don't have any bushes but I do buy the potted ones from the grocery store. So you think those would dry as well as the ones that you ? I want to make a wreath out of them and dried roses. Let me know how your turn out. Have a lovely weekend. Jo

  8. Love hydrangeas! How wonderful you are drying and propagating some! Hope both projects go well! ~Rhonda

  9. How smart of you to get cuttings! This is a great way to share plants and we need to remember to do this more often. I've used dried hydrangeas in years past to poke throughout my Christmas tree. It gave a very old-fashioned almost victorian look.
    Happy weekend to you!

  10. Cindy,
    Oh, my!!! I never knew the process to drying hydrangea blossoms was so involved, dear friend!!!
    Your friend is very generous to share with you!!!
    Gorgeous blooms!!!
    I'll be following to see how these turn out in your decor!!!

  11. Thanks for this tutorial. I've dried my hydrangeas before have but always wondered how to grow my own. I'm giving this a try! Zenda

  12. Your hydrangeas are spectacular....Mine have not bloomed in 2 years...I so miss them!!


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