How to dry Hydrangeas

As summer drifts into Autumn, the mornings and nights are slowly drawing in. There’s a chill in the air that has you questioning whether or not to light the first fire of the season, brambles are filled with berries ripe for picking and the delicate petals on our beloved hydrangeas are starting to take on some gorgeous Autumnal aged hues.

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We’re pretty lucky that when we moved into our cottage we had two established hydrangea plants and in all honestly they have produced bountiful blooms without much input from me.  They’re pretty much also the only flowers that have remained during this building project of ours. Since flowering I have been cutting and enjoying these all over the house as I have done for the past few years.

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Last year I managed to successfully dry my hydrangeas but it was more luck than anything. This year is another story. Long after the water had been soaked up and believing that I was on my way to successfully drying a fresh bunch of hydrangeas to enjoy over the Autumn months, they all perished. Every flower has wilted and they all ended up in the bin.

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So, I started to do some research on drying hydrangeas to help find out where I was going wrong and thought I’d share all of the notes I have!

  • First up, the time of year you cut them for drying is crucial. If you pick them too early they will still have too much moisture in the petals stopping them from drying out and they’ll wilt. I think this is my biggest problem, all my blooms have been cut too early and they’re too fresh. You want to wait until they are starting to dry on the plant, taking on a dusky, vintage look. This stage is my absolute favourite. The general advice is that somewhere between August to October is best to cut. Mine have all started to turn and so I cut my first stems a week or so ago.
  • Cut all the leaves from the stem. Although I trim the leaves I usually leave some above the water line but it’s important you remove all the leaves so that they do not retain excess moisture.
  • Pop in a vase with a little bit of water, around 2cm or with no water at all. I think I’ll add with water just so I can enjoy them for a little longer before they start to dry out.

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I have read that some people dry them upside down, in dark places, airing cupboards or add silica gel which is meant to help retain the colour but it seems that air drying them naturally is the easiest way to dry hydrangeas and cutting them at the right time is much more important than the method you use to dry them. So far so good, my cut hydrangeas seem to be drying and I’ll be cutting some more to try on this beautiful sunny evening.

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