Learn how to dry hydrangeas the EASY way!
You all know how much I love my hydrangeas. And part of the reason I love them is they are the gift that keeps on giving. All year long.
They are pretty on the bush.
They are pretty off the bush sitting in a vase.
And they are pretty as dried hydrangeas long after the hot days of summer are just a memory.
Guide To Drying Hydrangeas
1. When To Cut
Cut the flowers in the late summer or early fall (generally August or later depending on the area you live). You want to wait until a few weeks AFTER they have fully bloomed and they are on their downward swing. They should feel a bit papery at this point.
Trying to dry freshly bloomed hydrangea will just end in heartache and despair. And a trip to the liquor store. Or in my case, a trip to the convenience store for a bag of Peanut M&M's.
These ones that I am showing you are being cut too soon, but I wanted to show you how I do it. They are taking one for the team.
2. How To Cut Hydrangeas
Cut the stem 12-18" down from the hydrangea blooms.
This will give you enough stem to play with later.
3. Strip Those Leaves
Peel off the leaves from the stems. Leaves don't dry well and just get in the way when you're trying to arrange the blooms.
4. Neglect Is The Name Of The Game
Place your newly cut stems in a vase or jar with just a few inches of water.
Set them on a table somewhere and forget about them.
Seriously, just leave them be.
Don't replace the water after it's gone, don't play around with them, don't tell them how pretty they are. Just let the water evaporate by itself over the next few weeks and the hydrangea blooms should be dried by the time the water is gone.
Presto chango, dried hydrangea blooms and you barely had to lift a finger.
5. What To Dry Them In
It really helps if you dry them in something that you want to keep them in. Once they dry, they sort of "stick" together and tend to crumble when you manhandle them.
I like to dry them in mason jars, because I can then just slip the mason jars, blooms and all, in other things (baskets, vases, crates) and give the arrangement a whole new look.
Now, I have been drying hydrangeas like this for over 20 years. No one ever TOLD me how to do it that way, I would just stick them in the jar, admire them and then totally forget about ever watering them again.Next thing you know I would look at them and they'd be all dried.
I'm a natural at this.
Your dried hydrangeas can last for YEARS. I think the record for mine have been about five years, but honestly at that point they had begun to become a spider breeding ground. Best to throw them away before they get to that point.
If you want to get even lazier, you can leave them on the bush until they dry themselves. It really depends just how lazy you really want to be.
Me? I'm a medium lazy kind of girl.
Edited To Add:
How To Dry Hydrangeas With Hairspray
A lot of people find this article by Googling the question "How To Dry Hydrangeas With Hairspray". Although it is not a step I normally do, the theory is that if you lightly spray them with an aerosol hairspray after all the blooms are dried, it helps keep the little florets from falling off when you brush up against them.
Again, I do not normally do this, but a lot of people swear by it so there has to be something to the drying hydrangeas with hairspray theory!
Other Posts You May Enjoy:
How To Grow Hydrangea In Pots
How To Grow Limelight Hydrangea
Quick And Easy Hydrangea Wreath
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. You can read my full disclosure policy here.)
I love dried hydrangea and have them from our son's wedding. I spray mine with hair spray and they seem to keep a little better when I have to move them. Love your blog!!!
That's a great idea!!! I'll try your hairspray trick 🙂
I'm a dry them on the bush sort of person. I don't usually take them off, either. But, I do read your blog all the time.
And ps--we made the crosatta.
You had me at lazy! As it happens, I'm an accidental plant killers, I mean just today I was debating whether I could put this poor browned (is it thirsty? Is it overwatered? I DON"T KNOW!) tropical plant on the fire escape and replace it with a look alike, as a photographer is shooting my place next weekend, and I doubtful that she wouldn't raise eyebrows to any suggestions that she Photoshop my plants back to good green health so I can look like more of a plant whisperer than guilty of a black thumb and general plant ignorance. But then I'm just the kind of sucker that feels like I'd be hurting the poor plant's feelings to just cast it out of sight on the fire-escape to scorch in this forsaken heat and get a better looking, "newer model". I can't ever throw out plants as long as they're still alive, no matter how barely they may be clutching to it, or how pitiful and dead they look to mot everyone. I admire their resilience amidst such a grave misfortune as having me being the only one lives here and has opposable thumbs that are useful for working the faucet or opening a can of distilled water (I'm not so cruel to make my plants drink the horrors of Baltimore city tap). So dying plants it will be, in any ensuing publications, because I'm a softie who can't help feeling bad for plants.
But I digress, this seems like a DIY project I can actually do, and so much easier than trying to press a bunch of flowers between pages of a dictionary. I don't actually speak from experience, of course, that'd be too much work for me to bother with and I don't want to ruin a good book (of which I do consider the dictionary a good book, helpful, isn't it).
I'll go take that survey now, I might as well as I'm already procrastinating from washing that pan I forget and just remembered I left on the stove, when already in bed (the worst!)
I knew it! I knew I had special powers! I too Have placed hydrangeas in a lovely arrangement and forgotten about them for weeks only to come back and find they are lovely dried and preserved. Little did I know this must be my special power to create something lovely merely by placing it on the table and forgetting about it But seriously I’ve had the same results. And I agree that cutting them as late as possible but not when they have Naturally browned. I found your information when I was looking for a way to dry hydrangeas naturally
Have used this same drying method and you're right it works great and couldn't be easier. Think we might share some DNA. LOVE easy! Oh and here's one you'll enjoy...my 26 year old was out pulling weeds at his house and suddenly realized it was a poison ivy patch! Lucky he's not as sensitive to this as many. Live and learn. Great post as always.
Hi, I must try your way of drying hydrangeas. How much water do you add to the jar? Have you ever left the Limelight Hydrangeas on the bush? They turn a beautiful pink and burgundy, then I pick them with long stems and remove leaves and hang them upside down to dry. I, too, love all the many different hydrangeas.
I use just about 3 inches of water. Yes, sometimes I do let some of them dry on the bush into late fall. Last year I forgot to clip the last of them off before the snow came, so I just left them there until spring. By spring they were too beat up and brown to actually bring inside and use, but they did cheer up the winter landscape 🙁
Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces
I DO love hydrangea! Mine haven't been producing well the last couple of years...thank goodness my son has several bushes covered in flowers and lets me cut all I want!
Pam, your hydrangeas are beautiful. It's so sunny and hot here where we are that we aren't very successful with hydrangeas. I do have an oak leaf hydrangea that does pretty well.
I have to tell you. Your blog is just knocking it out of the ballpark these days! I've always loved what you do but the new look and everything is really nice.
Vicki Hartman Mason
I have another tip to add... While the Hydrangeas are drying, spray them with hair spray! It keeps the blossoms from falling off!!! I do this every time I dry them, and they last forever!!! 🙂
(I give them a heavy spray! )
Lol! Love your humor throughout the post, Pam! Now I know why I could never get them to dry right. Thank you!
Mary (Cottage B at Home~Vintage Country Living)
I've been doing the same thing for years and also had no idea it was the right way to dry hydrangeas!! Isn't it funny how we sometimes stumble upon ideas? Thanks for sharing this great post, Pam! Hydrangeas are among my very favorite flowers of all time, and I'm thrilled to finally have a hydrangea tree after many years of wanting one to clip flowers from 🙂
I knew I liked you! I just wrote about this on my blog last week too. I use the "stick em in water and forget about em" approach too!
I want to use dried hydrangea's for my sons wedding mid September. How soon should I do this drying process?
jackie k tiedeman
Same here.. I have hydrangea's that i want to use for my daughters wedding September 2018 as well. When should i cutt & start the drying process.. ???
I'm so sorry I didn't get back to you in a timely fashion! If they are still on the bush I would wait until September 1st. That will give them time to get a tiny bit papery on the bush and still have enough time to fully dry before the wedding!
Love your site!
I would like to dry some hydrangea for a late September wedding, it is now August 1st I live in Boston, should I wait until September to pick them?
Thank you so much for all of help!!!!
I would. Ideally you want to wait until they start to look a little papery (sort of like tissue paper) in order to cut them off and have them dry correctly. They'll have too much moisture in the blooms and won't dry quickly enough to keep their shape if you cut them too early (like right now). In case you've cut them since writing this, it's not catastrophic to cut them too early though, it's just not the optimum time to do it 🙂 Ideally, I'd wait until September 1st.
am interested in using hydrangeas for my daughter's wedding in October. I didn't see any reply to Jackie Tiedeman or Pat on when to cut and dry the flowers. I live on Long Island. I have three limelight peegee hydrangea bushes in my yard and they are loaded with flowers. Please advise on when to cut for late October wedding. Thanks. Valerie
I'm so sorry. I have it written in the actual article though - "Cut the flowers in the late summer or early fall (generally August or later depending on the area you live). You want to wait until a few weeks AFTER they have fully bloomed and they are on their downward swing. They should feel a bit papery at this point."
But yes, I would assume Long Island weather is pretty close to where I am in Ohio, so if the blooms still look fresh and moist like mine do right now it will be a little bit too early. They'll have too much moisture in the blooms and won't dry quickly enough to keep their shape. Wait until the blooms start to feel a little like tissue paper before you cut them - it's hard to tell what the weather will be in the next few weeks, but my best guess would be after September 1st. If you cut them roughly around Labor Day they should be fully dried in time for the wedding in late October.
And congratulations on your daughter's upcoming wedding!
FYI--my dried hydrangeas in a red country basket on the walnut chest in my upstairs hall have been there for 20 years and look gorgeous! When I dust the chest I always have a few blooms fall off, but they still look great. Oddly enough, the flowers themselves haven't really shown the dust.
The dust blends right in!!! I have mine from two years ago setting on my dining room table right now. There was a little cob-web hanging on it, but I just took that off (don't tell me it was a spider web) and it still looks fine!
Cathy in Saginaw
I have a gorgeos hydrangea bush with green and pink flowers. Three yrs. ago I cut them close to end of summer and just layed them on a table in my basement and the end result was totally awesome, they stayed the same color and each bloom was perfect. I've tried doing the same for the last 3 yrs, even hanging them and they just wilted and I had to throw away. What am I doing wrong? I think I'll try the water in the vase this year; first saw this idea on Martha Stewart website and what have I got to loose? Maybe I'm cutting them too soon?
I do it like this too. Works every time.
How do i get the spiders off them before bringing them not the house, they always having creepy crawly thing on them and when i tap the flower heads they break off the stem.... how can i keep the creepers off. one time they had a web growing from the fireplace a=mantle to the ceiling!! ewe....
Oh, no! You can dip the heads in a bucket of water and that should get them off. Just quickly dunk them down in it and bring them back up and let them dry off a little.
Have you heard about putting Clorox into the water?
I might be even lazier and less informed on hydrangea drying.... 2 years ago for a wedding we clipped a huge bush bare little to no stems on them, to lay around in groups for the wedding. They were gorgeous, and after the wedding we cleaned up and put them in boxes where they stayed and dried themselves silly! No water, and it's a good thing I didn't know about that way to do it because I would have tried to save every single one.
Lazy is a good thing!
How long do they take to dry once in the vase?
I’m having siding/windows replaced and my hydrangeas are big and touching the house. They need to be cut back so the contractor can have room to work. They still have a few blooms. How much can they be cut back without killing the plants? I live in north Georgia about 60 miles north of Atlanta.