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How to Easily Dry Hydrangeas for Beautiful Displays

Design Tips | Learn How To

I’m sharing my easy method for how to dry hydrangeas to preserve the color and delicate petals! Dried hydrangea makes a beautiful addition as Fall decor, but can also be used year-round as part of vignettes and other styling!

I love love love dried hydrangea. I love the color and the delicate petals and find that it’s a great addition to your home decor to give an organic item that requires no maintenance! In fact, dried hydrangea might be my all-time favorite Fall decor item…

So many people (professional designers included) overlook the importance of adding organic elements to a room. Or if they do, they only consider live plants or fresh flowers.

Black vintage cabinet decoratively styled with antique books dried hydrangea and ironstone

Well, not everyone has a green thumb and not everyone can afford to maintain fresh flowers in their home. There are so many other organic items that can be included in a design, such as branches, moss, pinecones, and yes, dried hydrangea blossoms!

Do you need help finding fake plants that actually look real! I put together my list of favorite Fake Plants that Look Real just for that reason!

How to Dry Hydrangeas the Easy Way

I’ve been drying my own hydrangea for several years now. Originally, I tried to dry them like I do my roses – upside down in a dark area. That didn’t work at all. They wilted and withered.

Now I have a super easy method that allows me to enjoy my beautiful hydrangeas while they dry! So here’s how to dry hydrangeas the easy way!

What’s Growing in my Garden

I have only big leaf hydrangea in my yard, known as Hydrangea macrophylla. They have large clusters of flowers and large, dark green leaves. Most of them are not repeat bloomers, but just this last spring, I added a few Endless Summer varieties which promise to bloom on the previous year’s wood stem!

bigleaf hydrangea that has turned green in a vase with magnifying glasses and scrabble tiles as a vignette on coffee table

What Colors Do Hydrangea Turn

As their season comes to an end, you’ll notice that your hydrangea flowers will start to turn colors. My white turn a beautiful shade of chartreuse green, some with crimson tips. My pink dry a soft lavender and the blue dried a deep purple, but the color shift depends on the pH of the soil.

bouquet of dried hydrangea with green pink and purple flowers in an iron urn with acorns below as part of vignette

Prune at the Right Time

When drying your hydrangea blossoms, timing is everything! Don’t cut them at the height of the season when they are in full bloom. Instead, wait until they start to turn color, signaling they are toward the end of the season. You’ll also notice that the texture changes from soft and fresh to a more paper-like feel.

Really, finding the right time is similar to Goldilocks – not to soon, not too late, just right!

Too Early to Prune

Here’s a hydrangea that is still too fresh to cut! It hasn’t yet changed color…

closeup of white bigleaf hydrangea with text overlay showing it is too soon to prune

Too Late to Prune

I waited too long to cut this pink hydrangea and too much of the color has faded. It looks more beige than anything.

closeup of pink bigleaf hydrangea with text overlay saying that it is too faded for drying

The Perfect Time to Prune

Here’s an example of a white hydrangea that lost too much color because I waited too long, and an example of one that is at the perfect time to prune for drying!

closeup of bigleaf white hydrangea that has turned green and one that has faded with text overlay saying one is perfect for pruning to dry

Ideally, for my white hydrangea, I look for a beautiful shade of green or green with crimson tips. That means they are ready to be cut and dried!

closeup of bigleaf hydrangea that has turned green and is perfect to prune for drying

Pruning the Flowers

I cut all of my blossoms at an angle, being careful not to cut off any new growth that I see. Once cut, remove all of the leaves. You don’t want to give any nutrients to the leaves because they take away from the flowers. Also, be picky! Any dead spots or faded areas will be more prominent once the flowers are dried.

white ironstone vase filled with green hydrangea that are drying in a wooden box with magnifying glasses and scrabble tiles on coffee table

Place in Water

Place all of the stems in fresh water. You can cluster a few together, but don’t overcrowd them. As they dry, crowding will cause permanent indentations and change the shape of your flowerhead. Ideally, you want each flower to have its own space that will preserve its shape and allow air to circulate.

closeup of green hydrangea that is in a white ironstone vase to dry next to a collection of vintage magnifying glasses

Decorate and Enjoy

Use your vase of hydrangea to decorate and enjoy in your home! Just be sure to keep the blossoms out of direct sunlight. Refill the water as needed until the hydrangea is no longer drinking any water. Then just allow them to sit until they are completely dry.

white ironstone vase filled with green hydrangea that are drying in a wooden box with magnifying glasses and scrabble tiles on coffee table

More Decorating Tips

Even though I probably should have done this two weeks ago, I harvested almost 50 flowers yesterday to dry. I expect most to make it, but a couple might wither and that’s okay. I’ll use the dried hydrangea for decorating this fall and after that, will store them away for the following year!

square basket full of green hydrangea that has been cut and waiting to dry

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