How To Keep Cut Hydrangeas From Wilting And Lasting Longer

Here are a few tried and true tips for keeping cut hydrangeas from wilting so they last longer. And one tip to revive wilted hydrangeas that works every time.

white cut hydrangeas

The hydrangeas in my garden are starting to grow like weeds. Soon it will be time to cut them and bring them inside! Whether you pick garden hydrangeas or buy them at the store, they can be the diva of your home decor. However, like any diva, they can be finicky! And they tend to wilt! Today let’s talk about how to keep cut hydrangeas from wilting. They are such beautiful flowers, but their heads tend to get droopy without proper care! I have a few easy fixes to keep cut hydrangeas fresh for a long time…

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Hydrangeas are the quintessential romantic summer bloom!!! Their big, moppy heads and little clusters of flowerets are iconic!!!  

A big bouquet of them cut and arranged on a table is pure bliss! Yes, hydrangeas are one of the best-loved flowers around! But like many things, these dramatic beauties can be a little bit of a diva! Cut hydrangeas wilt quickly when brought into the house. And there is nothing pretty about droopy hydrangeas!

Here are a few ways to guarantee full, long-lasting cut hydrangeas!

Cutting hydrangeas during their growing season is far different than cutting them at the end of their season when they are papery and really don’t need water to stay beautiful. Here are a few great tips for having fresh-cut hydrangeas in your home all summer long! 

Put Hydrangeas In Water Immediately After Cutting

Knowing how to take care of cut hydrangeas from the minute they leave the stem helps to keep them fresh longer.

Take a container of water with you when you cut hydrangeas.

As soon as hydrangeas are cut, the stems should immediately be put into tepid water. And adding a little bit of flower food to it would be a great idea too. Use a sharp knife or clippers to cut each stem on a diagonal and submerge!

Cut hydrangeas in the morning and choose only the most mature blooms. They will look a little more papery than others.

blue hydrangeas in a pot

Preparing The Water

blue hydrangeas in an arrangement

Use clean, room-temperature water for cut hydrangeas. If you have floral preservatives, use them too. You can find a good cut flower preservative HERE.

Strip The Leaves Off Hydrangeas

white hydrangeas in a glass container

When you bring hydrangeas inside, make sure you strip off the leaves from each hydrangea stem.

I break this rule often, and I shouldn’t! The leaves are big water drinkers and will steal moisture from the blooms. At least, strip off most of the leaves. Those that are below the water line should absolutely be removed!

Cut And Smash The Stems

Cut the hydrangea stems to the desired length. Smash the very bottom of them to allow more water to travel up the stems and feed the blooms. I use a wooden meat mallet to crush the ends of the hydrangeas I bring inside.

There is some controversy about smashing the ends of hydrangeas. I find it does work well if I use the boiling water method. See below.

You can also cut the bottom of each stem on the diagonal and then make a cut up each stem instead of smashing it. 

Use The Boiling Water Method

blue hydrangeas

Yes, boiling water! Hydrangeas produce a “sap” that clogs their stems and blocks water from traveling up it to those gorgeous blooms.  The boiling water helps to do away with the sap.

Put boiling water into a cup. Dip each stem into the boiling water for 30 seconds and immediately put them into a vase or container filled with room temperature water.

Dip Stems In Alum Powder 

You can also keep cut hydrangeas from wilting by using alum powder. Dip the stems into alum and put them into a clean vase. Make sure to mark the alum container “for hydrangeas only,” as you do not want to use it for anything else.

You can find alum in the spice aisle of your local grocers or HERE.

Replace The Water Every Other Day

Replacing the water in the vase or containers that hold hydrangeas will keep them fresher longer! Also, give hydrangeas a fresh cut and dip them in boiling water or alum before putting them in clean water!

Emergency Care For Hydrangeas

green and white hydrangeas in a cache pot

I use this tip on all the hydrangeas I cut and bring into our home. It literally brings hydrangeas back to life.

Hydrangeas are notorious for wilting. Their blooms get dehydrated, and when this happens, most of us throw our hydrangeas away. Here’s a way to give them a second life!

If hydrangea blooms start to prematurely wilt, you can submerge the whole flower in a “bath” of water for about 45 minutes. If the hydrangea heads float, put something like a plate on top of the. They must be totally submerged.

Then recut and place the stems into boiling water and then back into a vase of fresh water. They should revive in a couple of hours and live another day or two or three.

It takes a little extra care to have a big beautiful bouquet of hydrangeas gracing your home, but it is so worth it!

pink and green hydrangeas

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hydrangeas in a pitcher

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  1. Thank you Yvonne! I’d given up on hydrangeas since they always flop on me. I’ve tried smashing and not smashing the stems, but I’ve never heard about boiling water. Maybe I’ll cut a few more and try that for a hopefully improved arrangement. Live & learn! 😉

  2. Bettie Paul says:

    Thanks for the beautiful Hydrangea tips. This is the first year we planted a blue one in the spring. To our surprise, it has a plethora of blooms. I cut three mature stems. Now I am anxious to follow your advice to keep them from wilting for viewing pleasure. Thanks, much appreciated. Love your Blog.

  3. Thanks for the tips on Hydrangeas. They are my absolute favorite flower.

  4. This was a very useful information. I was given beautiful hydrangeas this week and they are starting to wilt, so I am going to try to save them.

  5. Lacy Price says:

    This is so informative! I love picking them out of my yard. I want to plant more. I’m definitely going to save this advice to get more life out of my blooms!

  6. Judy Feyen says:

    Thank you for all of these helpful tips for keeping these beautiful flowers fresh. As a floral designer, I will add…the shorter the stem…the longer the flower will last. It is just so hard for hydrangeas to take in enough water in a long stem to hydrate all those hundreds of blooms on each stem. When possible, a 5″ to 7″ maximum stem is preferable. Plus…shorter stem arrangements look very full and lush.

  7. I love your home and your blog. I really enjoy opening the blog each morning to see what’s new, and I have used many of your ideas. However, I am going to have to delete your post temporarily. My email is my work email, and I am happy to say I am retiring soon! Once I decide for sure I want a computer at home, I’ll plug in with you again. Thank you for such a good blog!

    1. Sorry to see you go! I bet you will be back and I look forward to that time. Happy retirement!

  8. I love hydrangeas! Here in the Northeast, it will be a little while yet before the ones in our yard are ready for cutting. In the meantime, I’m making do with the occasional bouquet of hydrangeas from Trader Joe’s … lovely!

  9. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Thanks for the great hydrangea tips, Yvonne! I love hydrangeas. They are so pretty!

  10. LaRaunce Fleming says:

    Thank you Yvonne. Hydrangeas are plentiful in my yard. I planted four more bushes last summer and they are doing well. I appreciate all of the tips. As soon as I bring them in to enjoy, they wilt within a day or so. I have not tried the boiling water but I will when I get home.
    You are always so inspirational.


    1. I’m thrilled you are inspired!!! Yes, please cut hydrangeas and bring them in. They are so so pretty!

  11. Ashley Walter says:

    Hi Yvonne,

    Do you take your planters inside during the winter or do you leave them outside? I have Hydrangeas planted in my yard and would love to plant them in a planter.


  12. Your Hydrangeas are beautiful! Thanks for the tips. My Hydrangeas haven’t bloomed in years. What do you recommend I do to change that? Thanks so much!

    1. Oh, goodness! There are so many reasons for hydrangeas plants that don’t bloom. The biggest reason is they have been cut too far back. Some hydrangeas put out buds on old wood and when the old branches are cut off so are the blooms. Other reasons might be soil, wrong sunlight, or some hydrangeas just don’t bloom every year. Sorry, I can’t pinpoint the issue for you any better.

  13. Great tips. Hydrangeas are one of my favorites! Blessings to you.

  14. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Thanks, Yvonne, for your great tips on caring for cut hydrangeas. I learned a few new tips. I just love hydrangeas — such a beautiful flower! I always enjoy your posts!

    1. Mary Ann, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post and learned something. I am a huge fan of hydrangeas.

  15. Stephanie says:

    I am in awe! Two of my hydrangeas were wilting and in bad shape. I submerged them in water and they perked up. I wish I would have taken a before picture. Wow, it worked! Thank you for sharing your tips.