Want to know how to dry hydrangeas so they retain color and pliability? Have you tried to dry hydrangeas in the past only to find they fade, turn brittle and crumble? We have the industry secret to properly drying hydrangeas so they retain their beautiful color and don’t fall apart whenever you touch them! We’ll even show you how to turn them into a beautiful wreath for your front door!
If you’re in the northern climates and you love to garden, chances are you have several hydrangea bushes. What I really love about hydrangeas is that they are one of the EASIEST flowers to dry for indoor arrangements. I use them for merchandising in my annual antique sale here on the farm. Everyone asks if they can take some home! I’ve also wrapped them in craft paper and jute twine and given them away to neighbors as Christmas gifts!
If you’re diligent, you can capture a beautiful assortment of colors as the flowers slowly fade in late summer. In my part of the county (Seattle, Washington), early September through October is the best time of year to start cutting back and drying hydrangeas. It may vary for your area.
Today I’m going to show you how to dry hydrangeas the SUPER EASY way! I’ll also show you how to make a beautiful wreath. If you’re not into wreaths I find that these make beautiful arrangements for year round enjoyment. I have some arranged in an old milk carrier on my dining table that I dried years ago and they’re still looking fantastic! Take a look:
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Okay let’s get started! Below are the supplies you’ll need for this project. I’ve hyperlinked the supply list to make shopping easier! There is one secret element that you’ll need to get the same results we do and it’s the Vegetable Glycerin. We’ll talk more about why this is so important later on in this article.
[Dried Hydrangeas Supply List:]
Jute Twine or Satin Ribbon
25-30 Dried Hydrangea Stems
Dried Vine Wreath
How to Select “Dry” Hydrangea Flower Heads
The most difficult part of this project is selecting flowers that are at the correct moisture level. Late in the summer you should see that your flowers are starting to fade and change color. This is the point where you want to clip the faded flowers at a 45 degree angle with a pair of sharp pruners leaving about 8 inches of stem.
Below are some pictures of what a full color/full moisture flower looks like….and beside them are a slightly faded, drier flower which is what you want to cut for this project.
You’ll need roughly 25-30 hydrangea stems with flower heads of varying size (the true number really depends on the size of your flower heads so take some time to measure the diameter of your flower heads vs. your wreath and estimate how many you’ll need).
Remove almost all of the leaves (leave no more than one leaf per stem). If you are keeping any leaves make sure that they are the leaves closest to the flower head.
Complete a mock-up of the flowers on the vine wreath to make sure you have enough flower heads to complete the project. Cut several extra flowers beyond what you think you will need in case of breakage or failure of the drying process. During your mock-up, be sure to leave space for attaching the satin ribbon/jute that will be used to hang your wreath.
Make the Vegetable Glycerin Drying Solution and Place Cut Flowers in the Solution
The vegetable glycerin solution is absolutely essential for this project. This is how to dry hydrangeas like a florist would! Your flower heads will dry in such a way that they are still pliable and supple for arranging in the wreath (or any other craft you have in mind). Also, the flowers maintain much of the color from cutting time. Other methods I’ve tried leave the flowers too dry and brittle to arrange without all the petals breaking off. At some point you may need to store the wreath or handle it….I find that having flowers that are pliable lessen the potential for damage.
Note: Vegetable glycerin is safe to handle and is used make ordinary soap. Don’t fret if you get a spill or some on your hands!
You’ll need several mason jars partially filled with the simple glycerin drying solution. I’ve recommended the taller, more vase like mason jars for this because depth is more important than width. You’ll need several jars If you have many tall, narrow vases around the house they can also work.
The glycerin solution is 2 parts hot tap water to 1 part glycerin (mix together well). Fill each jar at least 3 inches deep with the glycerin solution. Place 5-6 cut fresh cut stems in each jar filled with solution. Place the jars of solution and fresh cut flowers in an area with no direct sunlight (direct sunlight will over dry the flowers and turn them brown and brittle). Allow the flowers to sit upright in the jars of solution for about two weeks (or until dry):
Arrange Flowers Completely in the Vine Wreath BEFORE Gluing Down
After two weeks of drying, categorize your flowers by color on a large table. You’ll want to fully arrange the flowers in the vine wreath before gluing them down. This gives you a chance to re-arrange if necessary.
Cut the dry stems down to a manageable length (3-4″) and insert the flower head in between the vines of the wreath (flower heads should fit snugly in between the vines). Spread out the various colors from your earlier categorization of colors. This ensures an even distribution of color. Use smaller flowers to fill in gaps.
Make sure you step back and look at the wreath from a distance before gluing down each stem. Don’t forget to find a logical space or gap that you can either use the jute twine or satin ribbon to hang the wreath from. This will make it easier to hang when you are finished assembling the wreath.
When you’re completely satisfied with the look of the wreath and the placement of the jute or ribbon you will remove each flower one at a time to apply the floral glue. Apply glue to the stems in areas where they will make contact with the vine wreath. Place the stem with the glue back into the vine wreath where it was before. Allow the glue to dry per the manufacturers written directions.
See, it’s actually super easy to learn how to dry hydrangeas when you know the secret ingredient (vegetable glycerin)! This is the industry secret to how florists create long lasting arrangements using hydrangeas! I hope you try this out for yourself this year and make a ton of beautiful flowers to decorate your home or shop with!
Be sure to check out one of my similar tutorials: How to Dry Sunflowers and Make a DIY Sunflower Wreath. If you like what we do here be sure to subscribe to our periodic emails by scrolling to the bottom of this page. You’ll get my tutorials in your inbox whenever they post!
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Thanks so much for the directions to making a Hydrangea wreath. I have a ginormous Hydrangea bush and have had little luck with the drying process. This year I finally managed to dry enough for a wreath but had to spray it with a light sealant to keep the flowers from falling off. I will definitely try the vegetable glycerin next year.