How to dry hydrangeas: our easy guide to preserving flowers at home

Learn how to dry hydrangeas and create beautiful long-lasting arrangements and bouquets for your home

Four Dried Hydrangea Flower Blooms attach to a rope on a wooden background
(Image credit: BIOSPHOTO / Alamy Stock Photo)

Learning how to dry hydrangeas shouldn't take you long. Preserving these flowers doesn't require much effort: it's simply making sure you follow the right directions, and you'll be left with wonderfully vintage-looking dried flowers.  

There are a few different ways to dry hydrangeas, and you can utilize the beautifully muted blooms in a wealth of display ideas, from hydrangea wreaths and pom-poms to upside-down hanging bouquets. They're a stunning floral addition for weddings and table centerpieces, and can add a lovely fall feel to your outdoor decor too. 

Plus, if you've already spent the time learning how to grow hydrangeas, it's worth getting the most enjoyment you can from these beautiful blooms. 

dried hydrangeas flower arrangement in a vase

(Image credit: bunhill/Getty Images)

Learn how to dry hydrangeas in water

If you're a fan of landscaping with hydrangeas, chances are you've watched longingly as the brightly petalled flowers fade away, wishing you could preserve them somehow. 

Well the good news is that although the color of hydrangeas changes to a more muted shade once dried, you'll still have a beautifully full flower blossom that remains.

The most popular method of drying hydrangeas is with water – although that might sound a little counterintuitive!  Jo Lambell, founder of Beards and Daisies (opens in new tab), explains the process: 

  1. Whether you grow hydrangeas in pots or in the ground, cut your hydrangeas at an angle so there's at least 12in (30cm) or so of the stem. 
  2. Remove the leaves from the stems and place them in a vase of water, covering about half of the stems.Though it may seem counter productive, using water actually helps to slow down the drying process, otherwise the flowers can turn brown.
  3. Keep your vase somewhere cool, and out of direct sunlight as this will damage the petals.
  4. As the water evaporates, the flowers will begin to dry out. By the time all the water has disappeared (usually in a week or two), your hydrangeas will be perfectly dried and ready to use for whatever purpose you'd like.

Bouquet of Faded Drying Hydrangea Flowers in Blue Glass Jar

You can water-dry hydrangeas in a cool, dark place 

(Image credit: vsanderson / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

How to air-dry hydrangeas

If you don't fancy the water drying method detailed above, it's certainly possible to learn how to dry flowers like hydrangeas using just the air – but these can become a little more brittle than their water-dried counterparts. 

For this method, hang each individual stem upside down and secure to a line with a clothes peg or some twine. Choose a spot that's cool and doesn't receive direct sunlight, then wait a few weeks. 

Bear in mind that it's not necessary to hang them upside down though – only if you think the stems are thin enough that they might break under the weight of the flower bloom during the drying process. 

A top tip to test their readiness is to try snapping the dried stem. If it's easy to snap then your hydrangeas are fully dried out.

cut large Annabelle hydrangeas ready for drying upside down on a clothes rack

Hydrangeas ready for air-drying 

(Image credit: Solidago / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

When to pick hydrangeas for drying

If you're planning to dry your favorite hydrangea varieties, it's best to leave the blooms on the plant until they've gone slightly past their prime. That way, their natural tendency to start drying at the end of the season works in your favor. Late summer is usually your best bet. 

There's a sweet spot, though. Picking them too early will result in their leaves shrivelling up, while leaving them too late will cause the blooms to turn brown, which won't look particularly nice when dried. 

Check in on your flowers about six weeks after they've opened. Jo Lambell tells us, 'You'll want to cut your stems when your hydrangea is just past its peak – wait until it has fully bloomed and you can see some of the petals becoming thinner and more papery. This is your time!'

A pair of hands holding purple hydrangeas

Wait until late summer before picking your hydrangeas for drying

(Image credit: LAW Ho Ming / Moment / Getty Images)

How long will dry hydrangeas last? 

If you've learned how to dry hydrangeas properly, they will remain in good condition for at least a year or so, and hopefully indefinitely. Just try to keep them out of direct sunlight to prolong their lifespan.

You can use your dried hydrangeas to decorate your home by putting them in vases, incorporating them into wreaths, or simply hanging them up high in a corner of the room. 

There's also a simple trick to keep dried hydrangeas from falling apart – and that's using hairspray! Once they've dried out sufficiently, tie the stems together in a loose bouquet then lay them flat on a dry surface. Using an aerosol, give the flowers a quick spray: this will help to stop the petals from crumbling if accidentally touched. 

florist at work making bouquets of stabilized dry hydrangeas in wicker basket

Once stabilized, you can arrange your dried hydrangeas any way you'd like

(Image credit: Tatsiana Volkava / Alamy Stock Photo)
Flora Baker
Freelance Writer

Freelance writer and author Flora Baker is a keen amateur gardener and houseplant enthusiast. Her small garden in South London is a constant work in progress as she gets to grips with snail prevention, DIY trellises and what to plant in shady spots overrun with ivy.