Saturday, October 13, 2007

How To Dry Hydrangeas


When people hear that I am pruning my hydrangea bushes to dry the blooms, they always ask me how I do it. It's simply really. I cut them and put them in my bathtub.

Hydrangea blossoms are one of the easiest of all flowers to dry because if you cut them late enough in the season (October is usually perfect) they dry, all on their own. Cut them too soon in the fall...and they wither away into nothingness.

The experts will tell you to cut them off,above a leaf node at about the height you want the shrub to be pruned at for the winter...usually in the 3' to 4' range. The cut stems are then stripped of their leaves, bound with a rubber band in groups of half a dozen to a dozen, and placed in a few inches of water. You allow the the inch or two of water to naturally evaporate, as the flowers dry out, on their own. The other option is to simply hang them upside down in a cool, dry place...dark is better to preserve the coloration.

I place mine in pails or tubs and simply put all of them in one bigger tub...the bath tub. We have another bathroom, so I can just leave them there, lights off until they are fully dry...usually within a week or two.Then, I hang them up somewhere or place them in wicker baskets for storage.

What do I do with all of these you ask? Well, during the 80's, I made wreaths, bouquets, floral arrangements or arch pieces. Some I sold, some I gave away. In the 90's, I cut down to a wreath or two, one or two bouquets, and a few gift arrangements. In the 2000's, well, true to my beloved time warp abode, I still decorate with a few bunches and a wreath or two.

I will still have a lot leftover, but you never know who might get married on the spur of the moment and not be able to afford flowers. I've been known to give bagfuls away, and help make arrangements or swags or garlands, to help out. What else does one do with 5 hydrangea bushes ...when otherwise you sit and watch them all turn to winter mush in the yard?

And if you have guests, and they ask to use the bathroom...well, you can hardly wait to see if they mention anything!

shown:
blooms collected from one single bush

3 comments:

  1. Hey, you're right! I just looked out the window because while reading your post I thought "Hydrangeas have been gone since July. There aren't any flowers on those bushes or if there are, they must be brown." But their are purplish blossoms out there ready to be clipped! I never thought! They're not the beautiful blue they started out as but they might make a reasonable dry flower arrangement. As soon as I get back from church today I'm going to clip that bush. Put some water in the bathtub right? Even though they are supposed to dry?

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  2. LOL - bathtubs are a useful commodity! I once had pollywogs morphing in mine. By turns also used it for fish, houseplants and baby chicks. I even washed kids in it sometimes!
    Glad to see hydranges are still appreciated thru the winter - they're such a comforting old hug!

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  3. Oh those blossoms are beautiful -- wish I were able to have some just to dry -- I love hydrangeas! Guess I'll just have to settle for the fabric variety!

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.