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Is there anything more beautiful than fresh cut hydrangeas in a vase? By following these simple tips, you’ll be able to stop your hydrangeas from prematurely wilting, keeping them looking fresh for up to three weeks.

white vase of fresh cut hydrangeas on a kitchen table

Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers. I have so many different varieties of hydrangeas growing in my yard because the color they give throughout the summer and early fall is stunning. As soon as I see hydrangea blooms each year, I instantly get excited!

hand next to a large blue hydrangea bloom

Of course, if you’re not lucky enough to have an abundance of hydrangeas growing in your garden, you can always buy a beautiful bouquet from the local grocery store (Trader Joe’s always has some at a good price!).

While fresh-cut hydrangeas are stunning to bring inside and brighten up your home, they unfortunately won’t last long if you simply pop them into water.

I’ve learned a few helpful tips and hacks over the past few years that have kept my hydrangeas fresh for longer. In fact, if you follow these tips, you’ll extend the lifespan of your cut hydrangeas to two to three weeks!

hydrangeas in a black vase on a coffee table

Selecting the Right Hydrangeas For Your Vase

You don’t have to be a floral designer to learn how to properly source and display beautiful hydrangeas!

Mature Blooms

When choosing hydrangea stems to cut, the first thing to know is that it’s essential to select mature blooms. Mature blooms are usually sturdier and less prone to wilting. To identify these, look for flowers that have fully opened, with rich, vibrant colors.

These blooms are typically at their peak during the growing season, which for hydrangeas is typically summer and early fall. Picking your flowers during this time will increase your chances of having longer-lasting, more resilient blooms in your arrangements.

Here are some tips for selecting mature blooms:

  • Choose flowers that are at least halfway through their blooming process.
  • Look for blossoms with petals that feel firm to the touch with thick woody stems.
  • Avoid picking flowers that are still too young, as they may not be able to handle the stress of being cut and arranged.
  • Place stems in a bucket of water if it’s going to be a while before you can bring them indoors.
bright blue hydrangea flower arrangement in a white vase

How to Cut The Stems Correctly

1. Use Pruning Sheers

When you’re ready to create a beautiful arrangement with cut hydrangeas, start by grabbing pruning sheers to cut the stems. Sharp pruners ensure a clean cut, which helps the stem absorb water more efficiently.

Make sure you cut the stems at an angle, allowing for better water uptake and preventing the stem from resting flat on the bottom of the vase.

This is true for any cut flower – cut the stems at an angle so that they can absorb the most water. The angled cut creates a larger surface area for the flower to absorb the water it needs.

how to cut hydrangea stems to keep them from wilting

2. Cut Up into The Stem

The next part is the important part for hydrangeas – after you’ve cut the end of the stem at an angle, you also need to cut up into the stem. This is a great hack to get more water quickly up into the flower. You can use sharp scissors or a sharp knife to do this.

fresh hydrangeas in a vase

Remove Leaves Below Waterline

Remove as many of the lower leaves as possible. Any leaves below the water line must be removed. Leaving the leaves attached can introduce mold into the water and the plant. I usually remove the majority of leaves, and just completely fill my vase with big hydrangea heads.

If you have fewer flowers and need the leaves to fill out the vase, you can leave some on close to the top of the stem.

Now you can put the cut stems into a vase of water for a beautiful arrangement.

Remove leaves below the waterline for cut hydranges

If you have less flowers and need the leaves to fill out the vase, you can leave some on close to the top of the stem.

Now you can put the cut stems into a vase of water for a beautiful arrangement.

Preventing Wilting & Drooping

Keeping your cut hydrangeas fresh and vibrant is all about proper watering and a few other simple tricks that will extend their beauty.

Room Temperature Water

Using room temperature water is crucial for your hydrangeas’ health. When preparing a vase for your bouquet, fill it with water that’s neither too hot nor too cold. This ensures that your hydrangeas can comfortably absorb the water they need to stay fresh.

You’ll want enough water to fill at least 3/4 of your vase, as the hydrangeas will absorb it quickly.

(Remember to remove any leaves that might be submerged in the water, as this can promote bacterial growth and reduce the lifespan of your flowers).

limelight hydrangeas in a glass vase

Submerge in Water

When you initially cut your hydrangeas, it’s important to submerge the stem in water immediately. Doing this prevents air bubbles from entering the stem, which can hinder water absorption.

Replace Water Regularly

To keep your hydrangeas looking their best, it’s essential to replace the water in the vase every other day. This helps prevent bacterial growth and ensures that your flowers have a constant supply of fresh, clean water to absorb.

Additionally, when replacing the water, consider adding a floral preservative to help your hydrangeas last even longer. The combination of fresh water, proper submerging techniques, and room temperature water will go a long way in helping you keep your hydrangeas fresh and beautiful.

author putting vase of hydrangeas on a kitchen island

Keep Out of Direct Sunlight

If possible, keep your vase of hydrangeas out of direct sunlight to prolong their life. Too much sun can seriously wilt these pretty plants.

Mist the Petals

Another effective way to keep cut hydrangeas looking vibrant is to mist the petals regularly. Gently spritzing the petals with water helps them maintain moisture, ensuring they stay well hydrated.

Alum Treatment

One effective way to prevent your cut hydrangeas from wilting is to use an alum treatment. To do this, re-cut the stem about an inch above the previous cut and immediately dip the bottom ½” of the stem in alum powder (aluminum sulfate), which can be found in the spice aisle. This will help keep your hydrangeas looking fresh and beautiful without wilting.

Homemade Floral Preservative

Finally, adding a floral preservative to the water in your vase can help extend the life of your cut hydrangeas. You can either purchase a commercial floral preservative or make your own by mixing a teaspoon of sugar, a few drops of bleach, and a teaspoon of lemon juice into a quart of water.

This homemade solution will help provide nutrients, prevent bacterial growth, and maintain a slightly acidic pH level, which is ideal for keeping hydrangeas from wilting.

Vase filled with hydrangeas that last for up to 3 weeks

Reviving Wilted Hydrangeas

If, despite your best efforts, your hydrangeas start to wilt, it’s not a lost cause! The good news is that trying one of these techniques will revive the blooms and prolong the life of the hydrangea. Last year I used several of these methods and had great success. Now, let’s start that revival process!

1. Boiling Water Method

A lot of people don’t know this, but hydrangeas have a sticky sap that covers their open stems once cut. After a few days, this sticky substance will stop the stems from absorbing the water they need, so the blooms will start to droop and wilt.

To rectify this, boil water, trim an inch off the ends of the stems and place them in a container filled with the hot water for about 30 minutes.

While you might think that the hot water would damage the stems, it actually unclogs the sap and allows water to travel all the way up and reach the blooms once again. This helps the stems to absorb water more effectively, keeping your hydrangeas hydrated and fresh.

When you’re ready to put them back into a vase, remember to use room-temperature water.

2. Ice Water Bath

Try reviving your hydrangeas by soaking the blooms in ice water for several hours. This should help the flowers perk up nicely, since they can the absorb cool water through the petals as well as the stem.

I usually do this if my cut flowers have become stressed while bringing them indoors. I’ll soak them for a few hours before putting them into the vase.

To keep your hydrangeas looking fresh for up to three weeks, do the hot water trick once a week and mist the flower heads daily.

fresh hydrangea blooms in a glass vase in a kitchen

Now that you know how to stop your hydrangeas from wilting, you can enjoy those big beautiful blooms for a long time, and have stunning flower arrangements in every room if your home!

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for these great tips! They are my favorite flower! Unfortunately only one of my six plants have blooms so far this year. Any tips? Also, how do you get the beautiful blue? I have tried pennies, coffee grinds , and the acid miracle gro and mine are purple. My grandmother had beautiful blue ones all round and I loved them.