Updated: Mar 9
The number one flower I get asked about by shoppers at the farmers market, brides, friends and family is hydrangea.
Now hydrangea and I have a complicated past. We first fell in love when my parents got a huge hydrangea bush for our front walkway. My mom taught me about how the flowers turned pink
or blue depending on the pH of the soil, and every summer I'd wait in anticipation of what shade they would turn.
Fast forward to 2010 when my husband and I bought our first home. Things with hydrangea started getting serious so I committed to buying two tiny limelight hydrangea bushes (which are now giant!) and put them in our front yard. Every good New England home needs some wicked good blue or white hydrangea.
When I started working with flowers professionally is when things really started getting rocky with hydrangea. There was fighting, hurt feelings, a lot of my money started to disappear and I decided "Enough! We're through!"
But over the last few years hydrangea and I started seeing each other again. A little bit at first (maybe just 1 bunch), then a bit more (a whole box), and now we've come to a place of mutual understanding.
Maybe you've had your own complicated past with hydrangea. It's ok! Because I want to share with you everything I've learned so you can get the most out of these mega-luscious blooms.
First, let's chat about basic flower care. When you get your these gorgeous puff balls home from the store or even when you cut them in your backyard, they need to drink ASAP.
Fun fact: Hydrangea drink through their petals.
So, the very first thing you want to do is gingerly bathe them in cool water from the faucet. I know! Crazy...After you've cleaned the puddle of water off your counter from your flower bath give each stem a fresh cut on an angle. I use a florists knife, but good sharp clippers are just fine, just make sure they are super clean.
Because I'm not the first or last person to be interested in flower hydration (I'm looking at you Martha Stewart), you may have heard a myriad of tricks including hammering the stems or cutting slits up and down. But, seriously, things don't need to get violent. Keeping the vascular structure of the stem intact is the best thing for everyone in the long run.
Before you place your cut stems into water mixed with flower food, you can dip the stems into my secret ingredient: Alum powder. Alum is a pickling agent, and without getting too sciency, it helps the flower draw moisture in quickly. Disclaimer: do not try to use alum with other flowers. Hydrangeas are special, but you already knew that.
Now even with following these instructions, hydrangeas can run into trouble. I have been called out on a few Rescue 911 calls for friends who woke up the next day to droopy, shriveled messes.
If you find yourself with a droopy shrived mess, take a deep breath, take a sip of that coffee, seltzer, wine, etc. in front of you. Just repeat the steps above: rinse, cut, dip, and place into fresh water. You can also remove any remaining leaves as they may be drawing additional moisture away from the petals.
If this still doesn't work and you're reaching for your flower defibrillator, you can try one last 911 trick. Boil a pot of water, after you recut, dip each stem in the boiling water for 30 seconds and then place back into room temperature water. This trick works very well in shocking the vessels awake. However, this boiling process gives a quick fix but at the expense of the longevity of the blossoms.
My last bit of advice is related to the environment of your hydrangea arrangement. Much like myself, hydrangea prefer a perfectly hospitable climate indoors. It might be a good idea to not leave your freshly purchased blooms in your hot car while you get your Zumba on. Once you get home and perfectly execute their hydration meditation (see above), place your flowers away from any heating and cooling vents, direct sunlight or drafty areas.
If you follow these easy steps you should be well on your way to a loving, long-term relationship with your hydrangea for years to come. Now, I want to hear from you! Send pictures of your hydrangea, questions, or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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