Now is the time to get ready for hydrangea bouquets. Between the mild winter and gradual spring warming, just about all of my big leaf hydrangeas are beginning to show their flowers. If you live in warmer parts of the country, yours are well ahead of this timing.
So now I am looking forward to a summer full of hydrangea bouquets — as many as I can find vases for. BUT, hydrangeas are notorious for drooping once they are cut. So what’s a hydrangea-lover to do? Let me share what I learned a while back about how to make them last.
WHY DO HYDRANGEAS AS CUT FLOWERS DROOP?
First, the science. Hydrangeas produce a sap in their stems much like a pine tree. That sap clogs the stem and prevents water uptake. That’s why they wilt: no water is getting to the flower. It stands to reason that all you need to do is get rid of that sap, and prevent it from returning.
HOW TO PREVENT THE DROOP
There are a few ways to attack and neutralize that sap to preserve your hydrangea bouquet. But first, remember to cut them in the cool morning temps when they are fully hydrated. If you can water them the day before, it’s even better. You need to take some kind of lukewarm water-filled bucket or vase with you into the garden when you plan to cut. Then as you cut them, immediately place them in that bucket. Keep them out of the sun. Second, make sure you use very sharp pruners or scissors to avoid prematurely crushing the stem when you make your diagonal cut.
WHAT TO DO ONCE YOU CUT THEM
Then you have a choice of several options:
- One is to crush the stem end with a hammer to open it up. This seems unnecessarily violent to me. I’m not fond of bruising my flowers so I don’t do this.
- You might read about giving your flowers a bath to let the petals drink in the water. But that does nothing to neutralize the sap so it’s a temporary fix.
- Another temporary fix is to “condition” them by placing them in the frig for a few hours. Anywhere from an hour or two to overnight is recommended. A lot will depend on the condition the flowers were in when you cut them.
- You can put the cut end of the stem in boiling water for a few minutes to break up the sap. If you have the time, it works.
- Or you can dip your cut stems in alum powder, a compound available in your grocery store spice aisle. It’s mildly acidic and retards the growth of algae. Its best feature is it makes the vase water slightly more acidic which allows the water to move better through the stems than tap water which is usually neutral.
- And last, use Floralife® Quick Dip Hydrating Treatment Solution. It’s an acidic product that breaks up the sap and allows the stems to take up the water. You can find it online and in craft stores. Then place your flowers in the frig for conditioning. Using Floralife® is an easy process. You simply recut the stems, and then dip them quickly. Remember to remove several leaves to direct as much water to the flowers as possible. They are heavy drinkers and you want all the water to go to the flowers. You only use a small amount of the solution. Considering that time is of the essence, it’s not expensive in the long run. This one is my favorite for hydrangea bouquets: the hydrating/cooling treatment.
RESULTS OF TREATMENT
Your flowers will love you for it and reward you with a fresh look for days.
This is truly hydrangea happiness.
I have two public upcoming talks at the New York Botanical Garden in August. It’s a fabulous place to visit, even if you’re not attending a class. Go HERE for the info. Take a look to see if you’ll be close by. I’d love to meet you!
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