While I adore fresh flowers, I'm also a huge fan of dried flowers too. My absolute favourite has to be the hydrangea and I have built up quite a collection over the years - in fact I'm drying some as I type. They are so useful as we head into the Autumn and Winter months as are also the perfect accessory to decorate with at Christmas. They definitely are my 'go to' dried flowers and I would be lost without them.
So, how do you dry them? I've had some wonderful successess but also some quite spectatcular failures, so I thought I would share my experiences and learnings with you.
Drying hydrangeas from your garden - This is still very much 'work in progress' for me, as when I've tried to dry the more delicate hydrangeas such as Annabelles, it has been a bit of a disaster. I used the 'drying in a small volume of water' but it didn't work so am currently trying drying them upside down. I will report back!
I have, however, had a wonderful success with another hydrangea from my garden, which has thicker stems and is a 'more sturdier' hydrangea.
When you are drying hydrangeas grown from your garden it is important to trim them at the right time which is when the flower has matured. The flower should be fully open and feel hard and waxy to the touch. There may also be some small patches of brown forming. This is fine as it indicates that the flower is ready to be cut and dried. It's important to remember to hang them in a cool, warm and dry spot away from direct sunlight. Mine dried within a couple of days.
Drying hydrangeas that have come in a bouquet or purchased from a market- The first thing to do is to get enjoyment from your hydrangeas. The great thing about them is that if you put them in the right environment and condition them, they will last a good few weeks. So before you arrange them make sure you do the following:
Condition your hydrangeas by removing the leaves that will fall below the waterline and by cutting the end of the stems at a sharp angle, about forty five degrees. Then place them into a clean vase of fresh tepid water and leave them to rest overnight to drink plenty of water before you arrange the stems into designs.
When you are ready to arrange, cut again at the same angle and then snip horizontally up the stem to ensure they maximise their water take up. Hydrangeas love a lot of water. Another technique is to submerge the stems, including flower heads, fully in water (as their petals also absorb water). This does work, but be careful with more delicate and paler varieties.
You are now ready to arrange and enjoy - just keep an eye on the water level as they will drink and drink!
At the point where your flowers in your arrangement start to past their best, I tend to seperate out the hydrangeas and then pop them in a vase on their own to start the drying process. I do snip a small end of the bottom of the stem again, at an angle and then pop them in a small amount of water, about 5cm. I then pop them somewhere, out of sunlight and cool. They should then just dry out nicely.
I've always had luck with drying the green hydrangeas, pictured below. They have never failed me. However, the pinks and blues I haven't had any luck drying using the little water in a vase method. Next time I'll try the hanging upside down method and see if that works.
A quick word on storing them when dried - Hurrah, you have dried your hydrangeas successfully. These should bring you years (in some of the cases with mine) of enjoyment but be warned, they are delicate and need to be stored carefully. I tend to pop mine in vases so they are upright.
Arranging with them - Once dried, you can use them in garlands, with real hydrangeas in arrangements and in wreaths. They are just a perfect way of injecting a little hint of a summer feel in the Autumn and Winter months. I highly recommend giving it a go. I would also love to hear your feedback on your drying experiences, so do drop me a line.
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