Nearly everyone loves the colorful blooms of hydrangeas. Whether they’re the bright blue ‘Endless Summer’ variety or the creamy white-to-blush-pink of the ‘PeeGee’ variety, hydrangea flowers are a bright and beautiful way to bring color to the summer and fall garden.
The beauty of hydrangea blooms can last beyond the growing season by cutting and drying the fluffy flowers and using them in arrangements year-round. Here are 2 different ways to dry hydrangea blooms!
The most important factor in air drying hydrangea blooms is waiting until they are ready before cutting them from the shrub. Leave the blooms on the shrub until late summer, when they have already started to dry on the stems. Experiment with different batches from August through October. Wait until the blooms take on a “vintage” look – they will turn slightly greenish, or the color will start to fade a bit and the petals themselves will feel drier than usual; that’s the time to cut! Strip the leaves off of the cut blooms and arrange in a vase, with or without water, and let them naturally finish drying. If the stems are very slender and cannot support the weight of the bloom, hang them upside down.
Using silica gel is the best way to dry fresh blooms or flowers that have just opened and have not had time to naturally dry on the plant. Flowers dried with silica gel will have more vibrant and saturated colors than those allowed to dry naturally. Silica gel is actually not a gel, but a sandy substance with blue crystals, and can be purchased in large quantities from craft stores such as Michael’s or AC Moore.
Be sure to use a Tupperware or plastic container that is large enough to hold the bloom with enough room on all sides and the bottom so the bloom will retain its shape. Cut fresh, newly opened blooms in the morning, and be sure the petals are dry (no rain or dew drops). Cut the stems short so it will fit in the container; leaves can be removed or left attached.
Hold the bloom upside-down over the container, and slowly sift the silica gel over and into the bottom of the container. Once there is a 1″-thick layer of gel at the bottom, gently drop the bloom onto the gel. Continue sifting the gel over the bloom, making sure to cover it on all sides and ensuring the gel bets between and underneath all the petals. Once the container is half-full, gently tap the sides to distribute the gel between the petals. Fill the container with the gel, cover tightly, and date. After 4 days, gently shake out the silica gel and remove the dried bloom! Blooms can be stored in a plastic bag until you’re ready to use them for arrangements or can be placed in a dry vase for viewing.