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Simple Tips on How to Dry Hydrangeas for Your Home Decor

What if I told you that you could enjoy your hydrangeas in your home for months to come? Here are a few simple ideas for how to dry hydrangeas for your fall home decor. Check out these easy methods to dry your garden hydrangeas so you’ll be decorating for fall with beautiful dried hydrangeas in no time.

Hydrangeas are beautiful flowers that make a stunning statement, whether they are in the garden or indoors.

But what I like best about hydrangeas is how their blooms take on an entirely different look towards the end of their growing season as they dramatically change colors and start to dry out.

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dried hydrangeas in a farm sink

I love hydrangeas more towards the end of the season when they take on more of a vintage vibe. There are many hydrangea varieties available and their old-fashioned appearance fits right in with any cottage-style decor.

limelight hydrangeas end of summer in garden

When Should You Pick Hydrangeas for Drying?

When you start the drying process for your hydrangeas, timing is everything.

The ideal time to cut hydrangeas to dry is the end of the growing season, from August (late summer) to October (early fall), depending on your location and the variety of the flower. Here in the Pacific Northwest in garden zone 8b, I usually harvest hydrangeas in late summer.

Look for when the larger petals are starting to change color and start feeling papery. If the blooms are white, or a bright, vibrant color like pink or blue, they are most likely too soon to cut and dry.

If you cut hydrangea blooms too soon, they will still be holding too much moisture and will shrivel up. Make sure you don’t cut hydrangeas if there is morning dew on them, or if it has rained on them.

dried hydrangeas in a vase

How to Dry Hydrangeas and Keep Their Color

Drying hydrangeas is a wonderful way to preserve their beauty and add a touch of charm to your fall home decor.

First off, like I said earlier in the post, it’s essential to pick the right time for cutting. Wait until the blooms have reached their peak color and are starting to feel slightly papery. Once you’ve got the perfect blooms, strip off any excess leaves and cut the stems at an angle.

As for the drying part, patience is key.

Remember, the secret to keeping those colors intact is gentle handling and providing the right conditions for drying.

hydrangeas in the garden at the end of the season

3 Easy Ways to Dry Hydrangeas

Wait to start all the drying methods until the hydrangea blooms are mature, but not completely dried out. The best time to do this is usually towards the end of the growing season, typically in late summer or early autumn.

Gently examine the blooms and choose the ones that:

  • feel slightly dry to the touch
  • have a papery feel to them
  • have started to change color
  • the heads on the flowers start to take on a vintage look
  • Avoid picking blooms that are still too fresh, as they won’t dry well.

Depending on where you live and the type of hydrangea you have in the garden, the timeline for drying can be anywhere from late summer to early autumn.

hydrangeas drying in vases with water

1. Drying Hydrangeas in a Vase or Container of Water

This drying method is a combination of drying naturally on the bush, and then indoors, in a vase with water. You want to let the water evaporate naturally.

Step 1: Cut the hydrangea flower heads in the morning when it’s cooler. Use sharp shears or pruners to cut the stems at an angle. Strip off the leaves because they are huge water drinkers, and will steal hydration from the bloom.

Step 2: Add the hydrangeas to a vase or container with 2-3 inches of fresh water and leave them there for about 2-3 weeks.

To make sure that all the stems are not overcrowding one another, stagger the stem heights so that each flower head gets good circulation.

dried hydrangeas in pewter pitcher

Step 3: If necessary, add water to the vase:

  • If the water becomes stagnant, replace it with the same amount of water that was existing in the vase.
  • If the water evaporates and the hydrangea blooms are still not finished drying, then add another 2-3 inches of water to the vase. Continue adding water every time the water evaporates until your hydrangea blooms are dry.
dried hydrangeas in galvanized bucket

As the hydrangeas are drying, keep them out of direct sunlight to help decrease the fading. The process is complete when the heads are dry and stiff.

When using this method to dry hydrangeas, the colors tend to be more vibrant and the flower is less fragile than drying without water. By putting the hydrangeas in water, their color is better preserved.

2. Drying Hydrangeas Indoors Without Water and Upside Down

Step 1: Choose the hydrangeas that feel slightly dry to the touch and have started to change color.

Step 2: Using sharp pruning shears, cut the flowers from the bush, leaving a longer length of stem (12-18″) attached to each bloom to hang them. Make clean cuts to avoid damaging the stem.

Step 3: Once you’ve harvested the hydrangea blooms, remove any excess foliage and gather them into small bunches.

Step 4: Tie the stems together with a string or rubber band, and then hang the bunches upside down in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. Make sure to keep them away from direct sunlight to avoid fading.

Step 5: Allow the hydrangeas to air-dry until they feel papery and the petals have stiffened. Drying time is generally about two to three weeks.

Step 6: After a few weeks, check the blooms to ensure they are fully dry. The petals should be crispy to the touch, and the stems should be firm. If the hydrangeas still feel slightly soft, give them more time to dry.

3. Drying Hydrangeas with Silica Gel

Experts say that using silica gel is a great way to dry fresh blooms or flowers that have just opened and have not had time to naturally dry on the plant.

Step 1: Select fresh hydrangea blooms with sturdy petals.

Step 2: Trim the stems to your desired length and remove any excess leaves.

Step 3: Find a deep container that can accommodate the hydrangea blooms without crowding.

Step 4: Fill the container with silica gel, making sure that it covers the bottom entirely.

Step 5: Carefully place the hydrangea blooms face up in the container and gently cover them with more silica gel, making sure not to crush the petals.

Step 6: Seal the container with a lid and let it sit for about three to five days. The silica gel will slowly absorb the moisture from the hydrangeas, leaving them perfectly dried while maintaining their original colors and form.

Step 7: Once the drying process is complete, carefully remove the blooms from the silica gel.

The silica gel method is a simple and effective way to enjoy the beauty of dried hydrangeas all year round.

hydrangeas in farm sink

Other Tips for Drying Hydrangeas

Drying Hydrangeas Naturally on the Bush is as Easy as It Gets

This method allows the hydrangea blooms to continue to grow more intense in color and become more papery to the touch as they continue to grow on the bush outdoors.

It’s crucial not to leave the hydrangeas on the bush too long before harvesting, or the blooms will eventually turn brown.

How to Dry Hydrangeas with Hairspray

Drying hydrangeas with hairspray is a quick and simple method that helps preserve their colors and prevent them from wilting.

Step 1: Pick mature hydrangea blooms with vibrant colors and free from any moisture.

Step 2: Cut the stems at your desired length and remove any excess foliage.

Step 3: Arrange the blooms in a vase or hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area.

Step 4: Once they are positioned, hold a can of hairspray about 12 inches away from the blooms and give them a light, even coat of hairspray. Make sure to cover all sides of the blooms to protect them thoroughly.

Step 5: Allow the hairspray to dry for a few minutes.

The hairspray creates a protective barrier that helps the hydrangeas retain their colors and prevents them from drying out too quickly. This simple method allows you to enjoy your beautiful dried hydrangeas for an extended period.

dried hydrangeas in a galvanized bucket

What to Do With Dried Hydrangeas

There are many ways you can enjoy your dried hydrangea blooms in your home decor.

  • In a vase
  • Incorporate them into a wreath
  • DIY craft projects
  • In your tablescapes
  • Decorate your Christmas tree with them
  • Use them in topiaries

Common Questions About Drying Hydrangea Blooms

How Long Do Dried Hydrangeas Last?

The longevity of dried hydrangeas depends on various factors such as the drying method used, the environmental conditions they are exposed to, and how well they are handled and stored.

On average, dried hydrangeas can last anywhere from several months to a few years. Keep dried hydrangea blossoms out of direct light or humidity to keep them lasting longer.

How to Preserve Dried Hydrangeas

To preserve dried hydrangeas, keep them in a dry environment away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. Handle them gently, remove dust regularly, and consider using a floral spray or hairspray for extra protection.

hydrangeas in galvanized bucket

How Do You Dry Hydrangeas So They Keep Their Color?

To dry hydrangeas while preserving their color, cut the blooms at their peak, remove excess foliage, and keep them in a dry, well-ventilated, and cool spot with no bight light for about two to three weeks.

When Should You Pick Hydrangeas for Drying?

You should pick hydrangeas for drying when the blooms have reached their peak color and have started to change slightly, typically towards the end of the growing season, usually in late summer or early autumn.

Dried hydrangeas on table

Should You Spray Dried Flowers with Hairspray?

Yes, you can spray dried flowers with hairspray to help add an extra layer of protection, maintain their shape, and prevent petals from becoming brittle. However, it’s essential to use hairspray sparingly and from a distance to avoid making the blooms appear unnatural or sticky.

colorful hydrangeas in sink after cutting

Whether you choose air drying, water drying, silica gel, or other methods, the key is to pick the hydrangea blooms at the right time when their colors are at their peak.

By following simple steps like removing excess foliage and providing proper drying conditions, you can retain the vibrant colors and shape of the hydrangeas successfully.

Use one of these simple and easy methods of drying hydrangeas to create fall floral arrangements, a holiday wreath, or to add to your favorite craft projects.

If you have any questions or additional suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with anyone who may find these tips useful.

Until next time,

Happy Hydrangea Drying!

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  1. hi Kim, thank you for all the details in your article. very helpful. Can you share some of the varieties that work well for you to dry. I planted Sister Therese which is white in bloom, but turns green when ready to pock for drying. Would love to plant some that are blush and white when ready to pick and some that you like that are in the blue and purple family. Thank you.

    1. Hi Mindy! Thank you for your comment. My very favorite variety of hydrangeas to dry are panicles. My strawberry shake shrub has the most amazing colors in the fall, the blush and cream mixes. The flower heads are white at the beginning of the season. Although I don’t have a limelight shrub, I’ve seen how beautiful they can be. As much as I like mopheads and the beautiful colors of the blues and purples, they don’t seem to give the vibrant colors that the panicles do. And they seem stronger and last longer.
      If you have any other questions, let me know or email me at kim@shiplapandshells.com

  2. I have ALWAYS wanted to know how to do this, Kim! I adore hydrangeas and even though ours last a good while I’m always bummed when the season is over. We still have a few blooms left so I’m excited to try your technique and see if I can extend their beauty just a bit. Thanks so much for putting this together. I can’t wait to share it on Friday! Hugs, CoCo

  3. I love this post. I am new to hydrangeas this year and your post is going to be so helpful!! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Kim, your extra details regarding just when to cut the stems for drying are very informative. I have had luck with both methods 2 and 3. For #2, I have just been putting the stems in 1 inch of water. Glad to hear you say 2 too 3 inches. This helps knowing I don’t need to be so precise. This year I briefly soaked the entire cutting (flower head and stem) in an insecticidal soap to make sure I was not introducing aphids, mites or other pest to my building where I am drying. I am anxious to see if the quick soak hampers drying.

  5. Love all these lovely hydrangea photos! I waited too long to cut my hydrangeas so they are brown, but I am still going to use them in fall decor. I only have old fashioned Annabelle hydrangeas. I love all your different blooms!

  6. Kim, I am so glad I found you!!!! I’m your neighbor and love gardening blogs that are in my zone! I have several hydrangeas and love to dry them and so excited to see these methods. I have so many questions about all these different types, when to cut, how to cut back etc. This is a huge help. Thanks and so excited to catch up on all your posts, I’m on Henderson Bay just your side of the Purdy Spit. I am fairly new to gardening, I really get such joy out of all your pictures. Thank you for sharing new friend!

    1. Hi Kathy! So nice to meet you. I love connecting with neighbors in the area. I really appreciate you following along. If there’s a certain topic you would like to know more about and don’t see here, let me know. I don’t always have the answers but love to get more ideas about what people are wanting on the blog. Have a great holiday weekend!

  7. I need help with my hydrangeas. They simply don’t bloom! This year, I believe it was because my husband pruned them in the very early spring, and maybe this variety only blooms on old wood? However, even in years when I have left them un-pruned, they just barely flower. They are in an East facing flower bed. The plants look amazing, super green and healthy…just no flowers! I love hydrangeas, they are my favorite!

  8. My hydrangeas seem to bloom heavier on alternate years. THIS is not the year!!!! One year when mine were almost dry, I went out to the bush and s lightly spray painted them gold and copper! It worked well! Easier than trying to find a place to paint them. Some day my sister-in-law across the street is gonna have the men in the little white coats come drop a net on me. Reminds me of Alice in Wonderland where they paiinted the roses red.

    1. That is awesome! Not about this not being the “good” year for your hydrangeas, but the fact that you go out and paint your hydrangeas. Very impressive for sure!

  9. Kim,
    Thanks for these great tips! I’ve successfully dried hydrangeas and never knew what I did right. Now I know how to do it correctly every time. Thanks so much!

  10. I really want to try this. Since I have a brown thumb, will it work to use the cut hydrangeas from the grocery store? That’s the only place around here where I can get some. Also, how do you keep them from falling apart once they are dried? Do they fall apart/crumble? Thanks! Pinned.

    1. I was actually stumped when you asked about flowers from the grocery store. I even searched the internet and couldn’t find anything on this. What I can say is that hydrangeas do best when drying them after they have begun to fade and turn papery. So if you see those characteristics, then I would at least try. And I would spray hairspray on the hydrangea heads to keep them from crumbling. Thank you for pinning!

  11. I kept waiting on my hydrangeas, because they were so beautiful, but I waited too long. They are brown now. Since brown is a color of fall in the Northeast, I plan to cut them and use their beauty somehow. Next year with your expertise I won’t be so shy. Mine are osk leaf hydrangeas. Thank you for your lovely posts.

    1. Thank you for visiting Kooki! I still have the same problem as well. I just went out to cut more hydrangeas today, and they were too far gone. So sad. I’ll be happy with a 25% success rate! You absolutely can use them in some decor, they’ll look great!

  12. Thank you for sharing Kim, I can’t wait to try this! Next year I’ll have to buy some more plants as I’ve enjoyed their beauty this summer & they’re pretty easy to care for. I keep mine in pots on my deck away from the deer.

    1. I’m just bought a couple more this year, and I’m obsessed! It’s so smart that you are keeping them away from the deer. I have never had any problems with the deer eating them, knock on wood!

  13. Kim,
    The hydrangeas and their arrangements are so pretty!! Just so lovely! Thanks so much for sharing!!
    Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and for letting me know that you did by leaving a comment!! Stay safe, healthy and happy!!

  14. Kim,
    I had no idea how easy it is to preserve hydrangeas. Thanks so much for the great tips!

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