The One Mistake You're Making with Your Cut Hydrangeas
Prep the stems for longer-lasting blooms.
It wouldn't be summer in the South without our favorite flower: hydrangeas. These seasonal stunners are in full bloom in just about every yard on the block. Snipping a few stems from the flowering shrubs is the easiest way to bring summer color inside. But the fluffy mopheads do inevitably start to flop. The key to keeping cut hydrangeas alive for longer is to prep the stems before use in an arrangement.
For the best results, cut the hydrangeas in the morning. Pick blooms that are mature, open, and colorful; the slightly papery petals of these flowers will hold up better. Cut the stem at an angle so there's more surface area for drinking water. Remove any leaves on the stems—the flower's head needs all the water it can get. Once you've collected your cut flowers, condition the stems for a longer-lasting arrangement.
One way to prep cut hydrangeas is to lightly beat the woody portion of the stem with a hammer. This will soften up the stem's membranes so it can easily absorb more water and keep the head hydrated.
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Another method starts by filling a glass or container with boiling water. Make several vertical cuts to the end of the hydrangea stem (so it's almost frayed). This will help it drink more water. Place it in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Dip the end of the stem in powered alum, which can be found in the baking section of the grocery store. (Alum encourages water uptake.) Then arrange in a vase.
If the cut hydrangeas in your arrangement start to wilt, submerge the flowers in water for 45 minutes. This will help revitalize droopy blooms for a few more days of summer color.