How to Dry and Use Hydrangeas

Best ways to use hydrangeas to make beautiful dried arrangements.
I have some simple arrangements, using dried hydrangeas, that I think you are going to love to try.
You can dry hydrangeas a number of ways. One popular method is to put them in a jar or vase with about an inch of water. By the time the water disappears, the flowers are dry.

Another easy way is to hang bunches to dry. Simply secure your flowers with an elastic band and hang them in a cool, dry place that out of direct sunlight.

This certainly works, but based on my experiments, I am not sure it is always necessary to dry the flowers first before you use them. Dried hydrangeas are brittle and fall to pieces easily.

Fresh flowers harvested at this time of year are often much easier to work with. With the cool fall temperatures, hydrangeas are already somewhat dry and papery. Fresh stems are strong and woody making them easier to use.
My first project was to fill a basket with hydrangeas and dried roses.
It's standard practice for dried arrangements of this type to use a piece of florist's foam to hold the flowers in place.

Florist's foam is full of chemicals and isn't biodegradable, so I opted instead to use an old fashioned flower frog. (Note: If you are doing a basket up as a gift, you may want to resort to using the florist's foam. It will make the arrangement more transportable.)
Here's how to make your own basket arrangement:

Go out to your yard and pick a generous armful of hydrangea flowers.

Remove all the leaves and trim the hydrangea flowers to a length appropriate to your basket (as shown above).

Place the metal frog in the bottom of your basket. Insert the woody stems into the metal frog.
Put the basket aside while the hydrangea flowers dry enough for you to move on to the next step, which is adding the dried roses.

Roses must be hung to dry. Fasten bunches of roses together with an elastic band and then hang them, upside down, in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. It will take a little over a week to dry roses. When the rose stems are stiff, they are usually ready to use.

Trim the dried roses to a length appropriate to your basket (mine were about 8 inches).

Gently poke the roses in amongst the hydrangeas and allow them to catch in the maze of flower stems. (If you opt to use foam, secure the roses into the florist's foam inside the basket.)

This is my finished basket filled with dried hydrangeas and roses.
When I decided to make a wreath I began by drying some flowers. Then I tried to tuck the dried hydrangeas into position on a grape vine wreath. It didn't work at all!

Dried hydrangeas are brittle and I ended up breaking most of the flowers. What a mess it made on my kitchen counter!

So I started over.
This time I used fresh flowers.
With the cool fall temperatures, hydrangeas are already dry and papery. Fresh stems are strong and woody making them easier to use.
I found that it was best to attach the bow first and then work around it.
Take a length of wide red ribbon and fashion a bow.

Turn the bow over and insert a fine florist's wire through the centre knot.

Place the bow onto the wreath and poke the wires through the grape vines to the back. Turn the wreath over and twist the ends of the wire closed.
Cut the hydrangea flowers to approximately 8-10" in length.

Remove the leaves.

It doesn't really matter where you begin to assemble your wreath. Just make sure you work in a single direction.

Take a hydrangea flower and tuck the stem in among the grape vines. I found that the maze of grape vines held the flowers really well, but if you want to make them even more secure, you could tie on some florist's wire and wrap the wreath with wire as you go.
Once you get on a roll, the wreath comes together very quickly.

I think my finished hydrangea wreath will look great in my front hall this holiday season.
For more ideas, please visit my blog post.
Three Dogs in a Garden
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Kat Kat on Jan 17, 2017
    wreath is gorgeous! I love hydrangeas but even when I cut them fresh to dry, they end up shrinking and ugly. how did you do yours to still look fresh?

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  • Cynthia bulldoggie Cynthia bulldoggie on Sep 16, 2020

    I I am so excited about your wreath. I feel that it is something that I can make simply because of your instructions , And I love the pictures they really help. It is beautiful! And I can’t wait to get started. You’re an inspiration. Thank you so much.!