Right about now, you are probably cutting hydrangea flowers for bouquets. Except that your beautiful flowers droop in the vase within a few hours of being cut. ARGHH@!! So what’s a hydrangea-lover to do? Let me share what I learned a while back about hydrangeas as cut flowers.
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, ergo the wilting. 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 HYDRANGEA DROOP
There are a few ways to attack and neutralize that sap to preserve your hydrangea bouquet. First, it’s best to cut them in the cool morning temps when they are fully hydrated. If you can water them the day before, that’s even better.
When you plan to cut some flowers, bring a lukewarm water-filled bucket or vase with you into the garden. As you cut your flowers, immediately place them in that bucket and keep them out of the sun. Very sharp pruners or scissors avoids prematurely crushing the stem when you make your diagonal cut.
WHAT TO DO ONCE YOU CUT THEM
You have a choice of a couple of options to break up the sap:
- 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.
- Or you can dip your cut stems in alum powder, a compound available on line or in your grocery store spice aisle. It’s mildly acidic and retards the growth of algae. It allows the water to move better through the stems than tap water which is usually neutral.
IF YOU HAVE TIME
- You might have 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 and it takes a lot of time.
- Putting the cut end of the stem in boiling water for a few minutes to break up the sap is another option. If you have the time, it works.
USE YOUR REFRIGERATOR TO CONDITION THEM
- 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.
DO WHAT THE PROS DO
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. 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 dipping solution. Considering that time is of the essence, it’s not expensive in the long run. Finally, put your flowers in the frig for conditioning before making your arrangement.
RESULTS OF TREATMENT
My favorite of all is the cooling period followed by the hydration with the QuickDip. Your flowers will love you for it and reward you with a fresh look for days.
This is truly hydrangea happiness.
Everyone is taking a break right now and enjoying their gardens. I highly recommend you do the same. However, I am booking talks for this fall and into 2024. If your group is interested in joining the fun, be sure to use the “Contact Lorraine Ballato” option. I deliver both live and virtual talks these days so geography is not an issue. I’d love to meet you!
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