By Linda Peacock, Master Gardener, SCMG
It is so sad to see our gardens lose their blooms for the season. Hydrangeas are one of the last blooms to hang on in the garden, and we can save them to enjoy all winter! Of course, you can leave the blooms all on the shrub – during the winter they will dry naturally and become one large dried flower arrangement to cheer up the snowy landscape. Or… you can cut some blooms and dry them for an indoor dried flower arrangement or seasonal craft.
All hydrangea types can be dried, you just need to pick the right stage of bloom. Make sure the florets are fully opened and wait until they have started to show a slight blush of colour. If you choose blooms that are freshly opened, they will wilt and not dry properly. Look at the blooms available and pick the colouring you like, they will keep that colour after they dry!
When you choose your bloom, make a straight cut on the stem between leaf nodes. This causes the smallest wound to the plant and will allow the stem to take up water much better. Leave the stems fairly long, you can cut them to size after they are dried.
Remove all the leaves by holding the stem and quickly running your fingers toward the end of the stem. You can leave a few leaves at the top for accent. The leaves not only take up some of the water meant for the bloom, they curl as they dry and do not look attractive.
Place 1” of water in a tall vase. The tall vase will help hold the stems straight. Make a fresh cut on the angle (again between leaf nodes) and place the stems in the vase. Make sure the stem ends are in the water, and place them in a cool dry spot out of direct sunlight.
Do not refill the vase, the stems will use the amount of water they need to allow the blooms to dry out slowly. Leave them alone for 2-3 weeks.
That’s it! Enjoy your beautiful blooms all winter!