How to Preserve Hydrangeas as Cut Flowers in Vases

Using hydrangeas as cut flowers in vases can be tricky. This is the procedure I use to keep them alive for a long time.

Flowers outside in the yard will brighten the landscape, but sometimes it’s nice to bring that beauty inside.

Hydrangeas can be used as cut flowers, but keeping them alive in a vase can be tricky. In this post I will tell you how I do it, and include photos of my cut hydrangea flowers in pretty vases.

blue hydrangeas in a glass vase
Light Blue Flowers in a Little Antique Vase

First, I am something of a bud vase collector. I used to be addicted to buying every cute and unusual little vase I came across. Most of them came from yard sales and flea markets that I visited when I lived in central Florida.  I haven’t bought any in many years, but I have my favorites that I pull out each summer to hold the cuttings from my yard.

I like the shape of the little vase pictured above. The taller back is unique and it can hold any flower with a fairly short stem. The downside to this small vase is that the water dries up quickly in the small holder. I must keep an eye on it and refill often.

cuttings limelight
A Hydrangea Bouquet in Fall

This handmade vase (above) was purchased at a school fundraiser event and was made by a local artisan.  I love the unqiue look of pottery, and this vase is also nice and heavy.  These hydrangea blooms were cut late in the season, sometime in late September or October most likely.  It’s my photo, but I don’t remember.  (BlueHyd is one of my blogs).

Hydrangeas can last a long time once they are cut, if you know what to do to keep them looking nice.  In fact they can turn to dried flowers right in the vase!

So, here is the trick to cutting hydrangeas for vases and keeping them alive.  Take a bucket or big vase – filled with hot water (not boiling) – outside with you when cutting the stems.  Cut the stems as long as you can because they will be cut again inside.  As soon as the cut is made add the stem to the hot water.  

Once the bucket is full, come inside and get the vase ready by filling it with cold water.  Cut each stem again, one at a time to the length needed, and put it into the vase of cold water.  This should open up the stems so water can flow to the flower and keep it alive for a very long time.

Limelight hydrangea flowers fall
The Limelight Flower in Fall Contains Pink

If the one of the flower begins to droop, take it out and repeat the procedure by cutting the end, add to hot water for a few minutes, then cut and back to the cold in the vase.  Sometimes this won’t work.  Some flowers are bound to die, but for the most part I have great luck with this procedure.

Also remember to change out the water in the vase each day or so. The best way to do that is to dump part of the water out – never letting the stems come out of the water. Then add fresh cold water to fill it up again.

Pinky Winky Hydrangea Buds in a Copper Vase

Hydrangeas are beautiful as buds, full grown blooms or late summer / fall colors. Anytime is a good time to bring hydrangeas inside to brighten the home.  The Pinky Winky is one of my favorite varieties, and I have a page full of Pinky Winky hydrangea photography taken of the one growing in my yard.


Vases Filled With Light Blue Hydrangeas

hydrangea flowers in vases
From the Garden

Vases with blue hydrangeas- the Endless Summer variety.  It’s not too hard to fill a vase with hydrangea flowers.  Generally they are huge, and one will fill any kind of vase nicely.  Some of my new plants were flattened by a torrential rainstorm we had just after I planted them and they still bloomed, but the blooms are laying on the ground facing upwards.

Today I decided to cut them and bring some inside, but getting them to look okay in a vase is not easy since the heads are greatly bent sideways.

I brought a vase full of hot water outside with me and plopped the cut stems into it right away.  That keeps the white sap from clogging the stems so the flowers won’t wilt right away.  Than they are added to cold water once I go inside – snipping a bit off the bottom of the stem first.

I dug out my little vases – one is actually an empty Patron tequila bottle- and filled them with the light blue flowers.  I need these photos for my work as I get ready to add new wedding stationery to my BlueHyd store.

Pink and Cream Dried Hydrangea Bouquet

dried hydrangeas
Pretty Little Dried Bouquet

This little pink and white – or cream colored – bouquet of hydrangeas came from a shrub that was planted out near the woods in a house I once owned.

When I first moved to the northeastern U.S. from Florida, I didn’t know much about hydrangeas, or many northern flowering shrubs to be truthful. My new home had some very interesting and beautiful plantings, and I decided to find out what was growing in my yard.

Fortunately my next door neighbor was a big-time gardener himself, and his house was about 200 years old with huge flowering bushes growing all along the side of his yard. He came over and pointed out the Lilacs, hydrangeas and others for me, and between his help and visiting local nurseries, I finally figured out what I had.

The little hydrangea “tree” was (I think) a PeeGee and in the Fall the white flowers turned tan, cream and light mauve pink. So pretty! I cut a few and added them to a little vase and got a photo.

This little shrub was doing quite well neglected and tucked under a pine tree at the edge of the woods, so I might try growing one this year in my new, not-too-sunny, yard.

Hydrangea Bouquets

hydrangea bouquet
End of Season Colors

Hydrangea bouquets are stunning. July and August are the peak time for seeing loads of blooms in my area of the country and as the summer fades the blooms begin to change color. Unlike most every other flower, when the hydrangea flowers begin to die they can become even more lovely. Their blue colors can change to lavender and green (as in my bouquet here) and the white flowers can be pinkish or tan. If left on the bush, they can still decorate the landscape as dried specimens for months.

With such beautiful, big flowers, you don’t have to be a floral designer to make a very pretty cut flower bouquet.  Be sure to treat them correctly to keep the bloom from dying quickly.  Add some other flowers from the yard or even the woods. You could add greenery too. Experiment with what you have and you might be surprised how nice your little arrangement looks.  And a single flower in a vase would look just fine.

If I buy flowers from the local grocery store, I usually go for the Alstroemerias, or Peruvian Lily, which are sold in bouquets and will last a very long time if they are fresh.

Check your local yard sales and swap shop (we have one at the transfer station – a fancy name for the dump) for little vases to hold your flowers. The vase in my picture was purchased from an artisan at a local fair. I prefer a few small arrangements scattered around my house to a large, overwhelming one. Even a few hydrangea blooms can make a big bouquet and as Fall approaches (we don’t want to think about that yet) the blooms will change color and make an even bigger impact.

%d bloggers like this: