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High on Hydrangea

High on Hydrangea

By Stacey Hirvela, Proven Winners ColorChoice Shrubs

Hydrangea blooms look beautiful in the landscape – but their beauty doesn’t have to end when the growing season does. Extend your enjoyment of these plants by drying their flowers and bringing them indoors. These easy instructions work for any type of hydrangea, from the colorful big-leaf hydrangeas like Cityline® Paris to the jade beauty of Incrediball® to the wine-red autumn tones of classic ‘Limelight’. The dried blossoms can be arranged in a vase, made into wreaths, or used any way you’d like to create unique, long-lasting accents for your home.

Cut at the right time.

If you haven’t successfully dried hydrangea flowers before, it’s probably because the blooms were too fresh. Newly and recently opened hydrangea flowers will typically wilt instead of drying, so only cut blooms that have been fully opened for several days. Look for the florets to feel dry and a bit papery. Color is also an indicator:  panicle hydrangeas should be blushing to pink-burgundy; big-leaf hydrangeas should display a muted but attractive tone, and smooth hydrangeas should be green or dusty rose.

Cut the stem.

Cut the stems fairly long. Cut between two nodes (the spot on the stem where the leaves come out). You will be able to shorten the stem when the drying process is complete.

Remove foliage.

Use fingers to break or strip off all the foliage along the stem. Otherwise, the leaves will curl and distract from the beauty of the flowers.

Arrange in a vase.

Here’s the second secret to perfectly dried hydrangeas: after removing the flowers from the plant, re-cut the stems and place them in a tall vase with just an inch or so of water. Place the vase in a cool, dry spot out of direct sun. As the stems absorb the small amount of water, they will dry slowly and naturally, with perfectly straight stems and full, puffy flower heads; there is no need to refill the water. When your hydrangeas have dried completely, remove from vase and use as desired.

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