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Connecticut Garden Journal: How to cut hydrangeas and dry them for winter

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Olga Miltsova
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iStockphoto / Getty Images / iStockphoto
Give your hydrangeas a second life indoors once the cool weather comes.

Our hydrangeas are putting on quite a show. Whether it be the blue or pink flowered Hydrangea macrophylla or the white to burgundy colored Hydrangea paniculata, hydrangeas are beautiful right now. But we all know what's coming soon weather-wise, so let's talk about cutting hydrangeas for the table and drying them for winter.

When cutting hydrangeas for the table, wait until the flowers are fully opened. Cut the stems in the morning when it's cool, just below a set of leaves. Remove the leaves and plunge the cut stems in water immediately. The sap that hydrangea stems exude can inhibit water uptake, so the sooner you get the stems in water, the better. Cut the bottom of the stems again once indoors and slit the sides about 2 inches up from the bottom to increase water absorption. Recut the stems and change the water regularly for the longest life indoors.

To dry hydrangea flowers for winter, select sturdy stems and cut the flowers with 12- to 18-inches of stem attached. Cut the flowers when they're in the color range you like. For panicle hydrangeas, simply place the cut stems and flowers in a dry vase or a vase with some water, in a cool, brightly lit room out of direct sun. Let the water evaporate and they will naturally dry. For the more colorful blue and pink hydrangeas, use silica crystals to dry the flowers and preserve the bright colors. Select smaller sized flowers that will easily fit in a deep plastic basin. Carefully cover the flowers with silica and in 4 days or so, they should be dried.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.