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How to Dry Hydrangeas for Indoor Arrangements

By P. Allen Smith April 20, 2009

It’s interesting how certain flowers evoke a sense of nostalgia: roses, hollyhocks and dahlias to name a few. There’s no question these are beautiful in the garden, but if cared for properly you can also use them inside. Hydrangeas are good flowers to dry for indoor arrangements.

One method of preparing hydrangeas is simply to air dry them. All you do is remove the leaves along the stem and bundle five or six of them together. Hang them in a cool, dry place.

If that’s too much trouble, you can also dry them upright in a vase. Place the stems in a vase with a few inches of water, out of direct sunlight. When the water evaporates add more, repeating the process until you feel the blooms are sufficiently dry.

You can also preserve hydrangeas with glycerin and water. This process makes the bloom more soft and supple to the touch, and it also helps to preserve the shape of the bloom longer.


  • Hydrangea blooms (Old-fashioned French, PeeGee and Annabelle hydrangeas do well, but I’ve never had much luck with Oakleaf or Tardiva.)
  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Vase
  • Colored dye (optional)


Gather the hydrangea blooms. When cutting the blooms, keep in mind that the length of your stems need to be about 18 inches or less. And while it is tempting to try drying those full, lushly colored hydrangea blooms mid-summer, it is best to allow them to mature on the shrub before you cut them. Fresh blooms tend to wilt and turn brown. You can tell that they are ready because as they age, they will turn either green/pink in warm climates or blue/purple in colder areas, and their texture is paper-like rather than soft.

Cut the stems at a right angle and crush the ends with a hammer. This will help with the uptake of the solution.

In a vase prepare a solution of 2 parts water and 1 part glycerin. You can find glycerin at your local pharmacy. The way this works is, the water and glycerin are drawn through the stem of the plant. The water evaporates through the petals, leaving the glycerin. The glycerin will turn the petals a rich, golden brown. I like this natural look, but if you prefer a little color, add a small drop of dye to the solution.

Add your hydrangeas to the vase.

In two to three weeks you will have a beautiful bouquet of summer hydrangeas to enjoy through the fall and winter.