Friday, July 31, 2009

Drying Your Annabelle Hydrangeas

Funny thing about those gardens. We enjoy the blooms in the garden so darned much and wish they would last longer but are not always sure how to make it so. Well, if you grow hydrangeas it is pretty simple to dry the blooms and bring them in the house. The above pictures show 'Annabelle' hydrangeas. They were dried in two different ways. I'll briefly discuss the two ways I used to preserve the blooms.

I know of two basic methods for drying big head hydrangeas (this will include mophead hydrangeas (macrophylla) and also the paniculata hydrangeas (Limelight, PeeGee, Pink Diamond, Tardiva, etc) as well as the Annabelle type hydrangeas (arborescens). I know there are more than two methods but these are the simplest ones in my opinion. In the first method I cut several blooms from the shrub when the blooms were mature. That is, they were just passing their prime and beginning to dry. I placed the bouquet in a vase with about 1-2" of water. Over a period of about one week the blooms dried on their own.

In the second method I left the blooms on the shrub to dry naturally. Just prior to the blooms turning brown is when I cut the blooms. These can be placed directly in a vase with no water. Nothing more needs to be done to have these hydrangeas preserved.

I sometimes paint my blooms. Michael's Hobby Store sells a mist aerosol paint specially made for blooms. It is a very fine paint and will not weigh down the flowers. This paint works great and comes in a wide variety of colors. You might also spray the flowers with hairspray if you don't want to color the blooms. The hairspray will help the petals hold up a bit longer.

Flowers dried in this way can last for many years but do tend to get covered with dust. It is difficult to dust dried flowers so I usually throw my old flowers out. One thing to note, if you are into feng shui you do not want dried flowers in your house at all. I tread a fine line because I do like feng shui and try to practice it, but I also love my hydrangeas in the house as well. My compromise is to not have as many dried flowers as I'd like and to toss them in the spring. Your choice for sure.

I know this is an easy question, but which hydrangea was dried in water and which one was dried on the shrub in the above picture? The green or the white? And can you see the oakleaf hydrangeas outside the window? They dried naturally on the shrub. I'll enjoy those blooms from inside the house when it is icy outside.

in the garden....


  1. Thank you for sharing your methods! I'll dry the blooms in the garden next year! I didn't know how to do so this year's blooms are all gone. That would be fun to paint them!!

  2. Great tips! I just beheaded my hydrangea and I was wondering how I could preserve them, since had trouble with the as cut flowers. They are really beautiful as they age and change colors. =I"m going to try this!

  3. Some years I have great success drying my hydrangeas and others not so much. I would think that in your picture the white is dried without the water, but since you is probably the green!! either way they look great.

  4. annabelle allways is nice ! have a wonderful weekend my friends at USA !!! Kathrin aus Bremen

  5. Tina,
    My sister owned a dried arrangement company and we use to preserve the plants with 1 part glycerin to 2 parts water. It keeps the stems and leave pliable. Have you ever tried this? There are several methods to use this process. --Randy

  6. If I had a spot for hydrangeas that the sun wouldn't bake or the deer wouldn't eat I would try it!

  7. Good timing, Tina! I was just looking at the drying blooms on one of my hydrangeas yesterday, thinking how pretty it still was and that I'd like to preserve it. I'm going to try one or both of these methods.

  8. Good information Tina!! Now a question: how can you know if a flower would "dry" well? I was thinking this morning how I would love to dry some of my Rudbeckia. But, it's the pretty color I want to keep. Wouldn't the susans just turn brown? The hygrangeas are beautiful!
    Have a great weekend!

  9. Excellent tips, Tina, thank you! I sometimes think hydrangea look more beautiful as they age. I just cut them off the branch and let them dry but maybe this year I'll try a little paint or hairspray. Nice to know about the special variety that Michael's has.

  10. Always something to learn from your posts, Tina. Will keep your tips in mind. Loved the photo with the shrub in the background.

  11. Hi Tina, thanks for answering a question I've thought about for a long time. I had heard of painting flowers to preserve the color but hadn't known where to begin. BTW, do you use white paint for the hydrangea?

    No wonder I have such bad luck. My study/den/whatever is packed with dried flowers, blown down bird nests and 'found' butterflies brought inside. My feng is way out of shui;) Have a great weekend.

  12. Is the white one PG? I love drying these, they do so well.
    I do believe more rain for us today...

  13. Yup it is a pretty easy question since the one with water is in the clear vase. Had it been the other way around it might not have been so easy. I just hang mine upside down to dry and it works well for me. But I did not know about the paint. That would have endless ways of spicing them up. Thanks, I have to go to Portland again before long so will have to go to Michael's and get some.

  14. Good morning all!

    Oh yes Sapphire, do save those blooms. They are bit of the garden in the dark days of winter you can enjoy.

    Lzyjo, It is so easy to dry hydrangeas. Get you some blooms and experiment so you can enjoy them inside.

    Janet, You are right! The white ones were the ones dried in water. I don't like their texture as much as the green ones but it is a technique. Hydrangeas can be picky but fun.

    Kathrin, Annabelles rock for sure! You too!

    Jamie and Randy, I've heard of the glycerin method but have not tried it. I bet the dried blooms are beautiful. There are so many methods of drying for sure. I've also tried silica and hanging upside down but prefer the 'less work is me' way to do it:)

    Dave, You'd be surprised about Annabelles. They actually do well in the sun. We have a gas station that has a whole row of them in full sun and they are simply stunning. I think they look better in the sun. If you find some bargain price give them a try.

    Rose, I like the texture of the bloom when it is dried on the shrub, but either way works. They are such a good reminder of the beauty we enjoy in the summer that I can never resist. (keeping in mind my feng shui:)

    Linda, It is kind of hard to tell which flower will dry well, but most all flowers will dry. I always experiment with some good and some bad results. For rudbeckia I'd do the silica method in order to preserve the color. It is simple. Any hobby store will have a large container of silica for 10-15 dollars. You fill a container with it, gently put in the rudebeckia and cover with more silica. This product removes moisture quickly and should dry the flower in a day or two-with color retained. Afterward spray with hairspray to preserve the form. I think this would work. If you try it let us know how it goes.

    JGH, That paint is really something. Hobby Lobby does not carry it and we do not have a Michael's here so you can imagine. I manage to get some anyhow but the way I learned of it is from a garden club friend. She is a big fan of it. All colors too.

    Kanak, Thanks! I normally don't post inside pictures but liked the photo too. It is my craft room and as always, I enjoy the outside views so I plan for them. That oakleaf is special in its spot.

    Marnie, I have never used white paint to paint the hydrangeas though I am sure some do. Normally I want neat colors so I've used dark blues and purples for my hydrangeas. It makes them look a bit artificial but oh so stunning. I try to limit my dried flower activities ever since I read that in a feng shui book. Yup, gotta try to keep our feng in shui:)

    Dawn, No, both of these inside are Annabelles. My PG is just now coming into bloom. We have a long procession of hydrangea blooms down here. The Annabelles have passed by (after the mopheads), then a special cultivar of paniculata (Pink Diamond), then comes the Limelight, then PG and Tardiva. The last four are all paniculatas but there is such a wide range of traits in them that they can be staggered for continuous bloom. I love them all though. I usually leave PGs to dry on the shrub then pick them for inside. With all the Annabelles this year I doubt I'll pull in any PGs. Gotta watch that feng shui.

    Tatyana, You are very welcomed.

  15. Good morning Mom, Nancy from garden club told me about the paint. It is a very fine mist type in all colors and works well. You have to do it outside, no wind and spray the flowers in a big box to contain the fine mist, otherwise it gets all over everything. It does spice up the flowers as the colors are so vivid. Nancy is a first class flower arranger so her painted flowers are always stunning. Me, not so much but I enjoy them in the house for a year.

  16. Hummmmm, now that I go back and look again, there may not be water in the clear vase, just a thick bottom as the stems do not seem to reach what I thought to be water. Maybe not so easy afterall. LOL

  17. Mom, the white hydrangeas in the brown boot vase are the ones dried in the water. The green ones were picked like that and placed in the vase where they continued to dry-no water needed.

  18. I plucked Pampas Grass Blooms once and sprayed them with hair spray and they lasted for a long time. I have never tried to dry any other thing but herbs. Hum, I wonder if you can dry the Snowball Bush blooms. I may give them a try next year... Speaking of which, I need to prune that bush and soon.

    Everyone Have a Great Weekend!

  19. Those Annabelle Hydrangea blooms are so pretty.

  20. I love the look of dried hydrangeas, I haven't done that for a couple of years. I need to get out there and pick a few in color and dry them inside.
    Those Annabelle blooms are huge looking!

  21. Hi again, I wanted to come back and make sure I caught your reply on the paint. I saw some hydrangea painted like you describe in an upscale shop and had forgotten about them until reading this post. This will be fun. 'fraid my feng is going farther out of shui. Oh well, what harm can it do, I have a black cat and spilled a container of salt last night. I'm doomed;)

  22. Great information Tina. I've kept my Lacecaps before - had them in a vase and thought they looked nice so kept them - a happy accident on my part. My daughter ties flowers and hangs them upside down and does a nice job. I picked up a kit but haven't had the nerve to try it yet - I think it's with the glycerin that Jamie & Randy mentioned.
    Think I'll practice on the Lacecap since I have a kazillion blooms - then do my beautiful pink one!

  23. Skeeter, It would be nice to dry the snowball bush blooms but I'm not sure if you can. They normally fall apart here and don't dry on the shrub like the hydrangea blooms do-even though they look alike. You might have to do it in glycerin or silica. Pampas grass blooms are nice!

    Sweetbay, I sure love them too!

    Catherine, The Annabelle blooms are huge indeed. It is what makes them so attractive to me. Your huge hydrangea has tons of blooms-they'd look great inside.

    Marnie, Hang in there. No matter how bad things get, they always at some point get better:)

    Linda, Lacecaps are awesome hydrangeas and yours is gorgeous. Give it a try and let us know it works for you.

  24. Great instructions and beautiful results!

    I miss hydrangeas so much. Two gardens ago, I could grow them. One garden ago, I planted numerous 'Annabelle' and 'Tardiva' and then the deer at that house found them. I dug them all up and gave them to one friend who continues to report to me that they are alive and doing well. Too sunny here... and, too many deer. I have to enjoy the blogs of others.


  25. Hi Tina, I've never dried the hydrangea but have tried to dry other blooms with success. While spending time in N.C. I hung them upside down & hung them in the closet. Always good luck with them that way.
    Another shower today so things remain well watered. I do need to check all my potted plants.
    Have a great weekend all.

  26. The dried hydrangeas look gorgeous! I hang it up side down close to the window to make the stem straight.

  27. Tina girl I think very much along the same lines you do with just a touch of dried flowers .. I actually cut mine (Little Lamb at the time) just as they were getting to that prime time point .. have the long stems touch a mound of sand I had in the vase and dried them on top of my kitchen hutch where the air is typically warm and dry there .. but I think after 3 years it is time to switch this one vase out and try Pinky Winky or Quick Fire .. I love seeing something that I have done all by myself : )
    PS .. I am also dry rosemary and lavender (Provence because of those great long stems .. so much easier to bundle and tie to hang)
    Great post girl !!

  28. I love these flowers, unfortunately I can't grow them. I cheat and buy silk ones to put in vases for color inside my house. :) Ah, you lucky warm climate growers.

  29. Cameron, I found a live bunny in my garden today. I am not happy. Had to let you know as I always think of your issues with the bunnies when I see the boogers. I hope deer are not far behind to join it. It was so cute though and not afraid of us. Hydrangeas are so nice-I don't blame you for missing them.

    Lola, Isn't all the rain nice? I am enjoying it here. Hanging hydrangeas and flowers is a very common method of drying. I like that way too.

    Vuejardin, Hanging flowers sure works great and boy don't they bring the garden inside.

    Joy, I love Little Lamb blooms! That is a sweet hydrangea. I think I'd cut all the blooms and put them inside for sure. Do add some of the other hydrangeas-wow-three years is a long time for the blooms to last but they can and do look great all that time.

    Rosey, No one will ever know the flowers are silk unless you tell them-so don't tell:)

  30. My friend Carole uses the dried green hydrangeas laying on a table with a few Christmas ornaments for the holidays. It looks wonderful!

  31. I do love the green flowered hydrangeas. I hardly ever cut flowers, but I wonder, would a shot from some condensed air help dust them off and give them a little more life indoors? Or just blow all their petals off?