HOW TO KEEP CUT HYDRANGEAS FROM WILTING
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! They often wilt as soon as they are cut and brought into the house. And there is nothing pretty about droopy hydrangeas! Here’s 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!
TAKE A CONTAINER OF WATER OUT TO THE GARDEN WITH YOU WHEN CUTTING HYDRANGEAS.
As soon as hydrangeas are cut the stems should immediately be put into tepid water. 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.
PREPARE WATER IN A CONTAINER OR VASE
Use clean, room temperature water for hydrangeas. If you have floral preservative use it too.
STRIP THE LEAVES OFF OF CUT HYDRANGEA STEMS
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 it 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 BOTTOM OF THE STEMS
Cut the hydrangeas 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. You can also cut the bottom of each stem on the diagonal and then make a cut up each stem instead of smashing it.
There is some controversy about smashing the ends of hydrangeas. I find it does work well if I use the boiling water method.
BOIL WATER AND DIP EACH HYDRANGEA STEM INTO IT
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 (see directions above).
REPLACE 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 before putting them in the fresh water!
EMERGENCY RESCUE FOR WILTING HYDRANGEAS
If hydrangea blooms start to prematurely wilt you can totally submerge them in a “bath” of water for about 45 minutes. 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.
One of my dear readers, Nancy, reminded me of a second method for keeping cut hydrangeas from wilting. You can cut the ends of the hydrangeas on an angle and cut up the stem a little and dip them in ALUM before putting them in a vase of fresh water. You can find ALUM in the spice isle of your grocer’s. I’ve never tried this method but I’ve heard is works great! Thanks, Nancy!!! Aren’t StoneGable readers the best? Yes, they are!!!!!!!!!
It takes a little extra care to have a big beautiful bouquet of hydrangeas gracing your home… but it is sooooo worth it!
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These are great tips Yvonne, I’ve never used the boiling water before I’ll definitely give that a try.
Just red to dip the cut stem in alum to preserve the bloom.
I plan to try this method.
These are such great tips. I almost never cut off leaves.. Will be doing that often. I also knew about cutting the stem diagonally but never knew why. Now I know and thanks for the tip about removing the sap.
Love your blog.
Thanks for the tips, Yvonne. I just bought a bunch yesterday.
Thanks, Yvonne. I had not heard the boiling water tip either. I love hydrangea and have a whole wall of Annabelle above the patio wall. They are just loaded with beautiful pale green flower heads right now.
We have two hydrangea bushes and I love their blooms. I haven’t taken the time to bring the blossoms in because I didn’t want them to wilt. I too have read about alum. I will try both ways. Thank you Yvonne.
Thank you so much for explaining in such detail how to have these beautiful flowers in the house. I certainly do love them. Judy C
Thanks for the information. I have lots of hydrangeas and have tried all of these methods including searing the ends with a bbq lighter instead of putting into boiling water. Dipping the stem into alum (found in the pickling section of the grocery store) seems to work the best for me. You are right that it makes a difference at what point in the growing cycle the bloom is cut, too.
Yes, I’ve heard of using alum too. Thanks for letting us know!
AH! I have shied away from purchasing hydrangeas at the market because of the wilt. I had luck cutting them from the yard ONCE but never again. THANK YOU for these tips, Yvonne! No more floppy heads! 🙂
thanks Yvonne, very welcome info here, I’ve tried the submerge method for wilted blooms and it didn’t really work. I will try the boiling water thing, that’s a first for me, thanks~
Thanks for all the tips. I will definitely try the alum.
If the alum doesn’t work for you, Patricia, you are not alone. Putting the freshly cut hydrangea into a container of boiling hot (not just hot) water then leaving them, works. If worried about the rising steam affecting the blossoms, just wrap a few squares of paper towel around the base (fasten with a clothespin or clip.)
Alum is a miracle spice! You will never boil water or anything else again. I don’t even strip leaves. Just add water often. I’ve even bought some hydrangeas that were a little droopy and when I get home, fresh cut each stem and dip each stem in alum and put in water. They will stand back up. They last for weeks! But if you change the water, cut and dip again.
What is alum and where can you find it? What is it used for other than help keep the hydrangeas nice?
Find alum in the spice isle. It is a white powder.
Great tips! As always, phenomenal photos! Thank you for sharing!
I use the alum and it works great!
What a great post–I’m definitely going to try this!
I’d heard about the alum-thing before, but it was just a passing “…and you can…” so I never tried it–hmmmm.
My daughter choose hydrangeas for her wedding table settings and ceremony site flowers. We had hydrangeas everywhere! The florist gave us a great tip which I have since used with much success, including homegrown flowers my other daughter used at her wedding. After cutting the blooms, dunk the heads in cool water for a minute or two, slit the stem at bottom and vase. It will seem odd at first to dunk the heads, but it works. An added bonus is that all the little “buggies” will come out in the water too.
WONDERFUL tip Cathy!!! Thanks!
Thanks for the tips Yvonne! Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers! Yes, they do wilt very easily early in the season, but later on in the season you can dry them perfectly. I was never happy with them when picked early, now I can try again…Thanks for the share!
Thanks for the info.. I have used the hot water, but never heard of the alum…will give it a try. Great information
Hydrangeas are my favorite, thank you so much for these awesome tips!!
Thanks for the great tips Yvonne! This is the first year mine have such beautiful blooms,I’m so excited,,I have hesitated to cut them,will they continue to make new blooms? let me know,,
This is perfect for me. We just planted nine Hydrangeas. I won’t cut any this year. I’ll pin this for the future
Thank you for those tips Yvonne! Your flowers are gorgeous:)
As always, a wonderful post – informative info and lovely pictures! Your blossoms are beautiful! Thanks for the alum tip, too. It is fun to learn something new every day!
Great tips Yvonne….when my hydrangeas seem to get a little wilty, I cut the stems again and place hot water (not boiling) in the vase and they perk up really quickly…..My hydrangeas have not bloomed yet…I am patiently waiting!
Will this method work for any flower or just hydrangeas?
Hi Susan… I’m not sure! If you try it let me know!
Thank you, thank you! I love Hydrangeas, they remained me of my Grandmother and summer days spent with her in NC.
Great tips, Yvonne – thanks for sharing! At some point, can you also give tips for drying hydrangeas? I’ve seen beautiful ones, but haven’t had too much success.
I planted a bunch last fall and they were doing beautifully until a deer ate them down to the stems! I’m hoping they come back as I’m not sure the year return policy includes deer browse! Hopefully I’ll get to cut some blooms on the plants it didn’t discover and can’t get to now.
Thank you for the tips and I love the antique hydrangeas , along with the white ones,they are my other favorite flower.
Thanks Yvonne! So many great tips. I’m gonna try the alum, I love hydrangeas!
I have tried the alum method and my hydrangeas lasted for 3 weeks!
Wow, gotta try that too!
I have used the alum method. Works!!
The alum works wonderfully. Also, if they start to droop…..wet paper towels and drape them over the hydrangea blooms….remove when dry and hydrangeas perk right up!
Great tip, Fran. Thanks!
I have a question: Like many other blooming plants in my garden, do hydrangeas produce more blooms more the more you cut them?
Hi Linda, It depends on the hydrangea plant. Everblooms do keep blooming and I love them!
Do you smash the stem then dip into boiling water or boiling water first the smash stems?
I cut the stem and dip them.
Thanks for this fantastic info. I cut the blooms from my garden this morning as directed using the boiling water method. This is the first time I haven’t had wilted flowers by noon.
Great information thank you x
I purchased cut hydrangeas yesterday, by this morning 3 of the 4 were wilting. I used the boiling water method and voila! Beautiful perky hydrangeas are miraculously back within an hour. Thank you for this tip, I will be pasing on my success story.
Hello! Is there also a method to revive wilted blooms from a planted hydrangea. Mine was gorgeous two days ago and now all the blooms wilted. Would love to receive some advice please.
Try cutting the ends again and then putting the whole stem, everything, in a bathtub with cold water. Cover them completely and let them soak for 30 minutes or so. Hope this works.
Do you cut the bloom that is on old wood or cut the bloom from the new growth? Does it make a difference?
I just cut any blooms that pop out!
Thanks for these tips! As I cut them, I placed each in bucket of water,then into bathtub of water. Left for about 3 hours. I was shocked by all the stuff that was in the water! After cutting on diagonal, I smashed lower end of stems with small hammer, then dipped into the alum as suggested, then into vases filled with water. All were still beautiful and perky for the next day baby shower!!! Thanks again for all the great tips.
Such a great tip Debbie!!!! Thanks so much for sharing!
If you dip the stem into alum and then put it in water, doesn’t all the alum come off in the water? If that is so, why can’t you just put a teaspoon or so of alum directly into the water in the vase?
Not sure why it works Barbara, just know that it does. What a great question!!!!
The florist at Sams suggested regularly misting my hydrangea blooms/leaves and fresh water in the vase. I also trimmed the stems occasionally. My blooms lasted for almost 2 weeks!
GREAT tip Sarah!
Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers. They are so romantically beautiful. Thanks for these tips! I haven’t heard of the smashing and boiling water technique. I’m going to give it a try!
Does this work for bridal veil hydrangeas?
Ok that was amazing advice! I did the 45 min soak and split the shafts and put stem in boiling water and put back in arrangement. My husband and I were shocked at how it went from literally dead to brand new! Worked great thanks!!!
I am here to tell you that the Alum method is fool proof! Just dip in Alum and then put in the water. Works great! I was constantly frustrated until I tried this. I’ve also revived them sometimes 2-3 times with the boiling water but since I started doing the alum I never need to do this. It even works well on the bigger woody branches!
Thanks for the information. I’ve been dipping mine in alum and they stay beautiful for close to a week. Loving your podcasts!!!
Two years ago I cut my hydrangeas at an angle and smashed the stem after cutting part way up Those are still perfect and sitting in my storage area. I’ve hated to throw them away because they are so pretty. I’m bombarded with new ones this year so guess we depart with the old ones.
Hi. – I have never been successful with cut Hydrangeas – perhaps because I have what I call the “tree ” type – dating from 1966 – the age of my home — My two are what are found in old cemeteries. —
Help– my flowers are beautiful each year and are starting to bloom now
What do you suggest as these are not the hybrids of today
By the way – I live in Maine
Try these tips Karen. I have a tree hydrangeas, called a Pee Gee! And these tips work!
I look to Stone Gable often for advice in my home and today you saved an arrangement I made to give my sister-in-law for Mother’s Day. I purchased the hydrangeas last night and trimmed and placed them into my bouquet. This morning the were wilted. I rushed to the internet for help and my search pattern is known by Google because it took me straight to a trusted source, you. Thank you!
I LOVE hydrangeas, can I grow them in Cave Creek, Arizona if the plant is on a irrigation system? I believe I live in Zone 8/9.
There are some hydrangeas that are heat tolerant. Check with your local nursery’s and online.
I don’t like stripping off ALL the leaves. I haven’t done an extensive experiment, but I find no wilting if I cut the main stem just ABOVE any stripped-off leaves. The flowers and leaves left on all look fine!
Oh my golly – I tried your suggestion to revive my cut hydrangeas that were wilting and I cannot believe how stunning they are!!! I did it about 3 hours before I went to bed and she minimal results. But I left them on the counter in fresh room temperature water, after setting them in boiling water for 30 sec – and awoke to them looking like they are freshly cut! They were originally cut 1 week ago and now look like they are fresh cut this morning!!! Thank you for sharing that TIP. Diann
So happy to hear, Diann!
It is becoming fall and my Hydrindges are hughe and pink, blue and green and I heard you can dry them and have them all winter….Is this true and if so , how….I have read all your wonderful coments on keeping the fresh, I want to dry them for the winter…..thank you for your web site, I so enjoy it !
The emergency rescue method worked! Hooray! Thank you so much!
Help! I have just cut some lime light hydrangea blooms to use this evening at a friend’s rehearsal dinner. I noticed a couple of bugs on some blooms. Can I submerge the flowers in cool water with a little vinegar or blue dawn without damaging the blooms?
Not sure. Google what to do! Sorry, I don’t want to tell you the wrong thing.
Love those ideas for cutting hydrangeas
We almost always cut them and bring them in. This time of year is filled with thunderstorms in my area and these storms can be burtal on pretty peonies!
I found this information very useful. Thank you for posting.
I found your article on preventing hydrangeas from wilting very helpful! Wish there were an easy print option as I love to save all the wonderful tips in my gardening file. Hint Hint 🙂
So glad I found your site!
Thank you for the great tips! Do you have any recommendations for a hydrangea bush that has completely stopped flowering? I don’t know if I should give up on it and plant a new one. It’s been years since it’s had a flower. 😢
There are several reasons a hydrangea does not bloom. One of the biggest offenders is because it is not planted in the right place. Hope this is helpful
I’ve received much advice from friends. No two alike.
How do I prepare hydrangeas for a northern BJ winter? Cover, cut down or leave alone?
Help! I don’t want to kill them. Even considering cutting down trees to clear for sunshine.
Thanks in advance fir your advice! 😊
Lisa, this is such a great question! Here’s the thing… how you prepare hydrangeas for winters depends on the type of hydrangea and the location in your yard.
Check with your local nursery. They will be able to tell you how to winter them over. Hope this is helpful
Thank you for the Hydrangeas cutting tips. My yard is full of spectacular hydrangeas, and now I know how to make them last in the house. Thank you so much
Oh, how wonderful! Enjoy them.
Thank you, Yvonne for the great tips for keep our cut hydrangeas beautiful and fresh when taken indoors!