How to Fix Drooping Hydrangeas

jbryanBasics, Growing2 Comments

A few months back we did a post on how to cut and care for hydrangea’s so they would not droop and wilt right away. I told you all what I knew at the time, but was committed to learning more.

Last week the opportunity came up to conduct an experiment on cutting methods to see what worked the best on drooping hydrangea, and what yielded the best results–we have a clear winner!

Ideally, we all want hydrangea’s that we buy or cut to look like this for a long time:

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Granted these are freshly cut and in full bloom, so they look great, but how can we make them stay great?

I recently cut many of my hydrangea stems to haul down to North Carolina for my sisters wedding. I needed them to stay fresh from the Wednesday morning before the wedding when I cut them and left DC, until the actual wedding ceremony on Sunday  night.

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In the process of planning the trip I decided to conduct an experiment that will say once and for all what works best for curing drooping hydrangeas. There is a clear winner, and thankfully it was the method I decided to use (not knowing if it would work). Here is what I tried.

  • One method that popped up in internet searches recommended that you dip fresh cut hydrangea stems into very hot (boiling) water for 30 seconds. Something about the heat disrupting the cell structure that created the sticky goo that seals the stem and prevents water in.

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  • Another method recommended that you dip fresh cut hydrangea stems into a product found in the spice aisle of your supermarket, called Alum. Commonly used in pickling, Alum serves as a preservative of sorts.

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  • Nothing more than a fresh cut and a quick transfer to fresh water.

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Here is how they looked after one day:

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And here is how they looked after one week:

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We have a clear winner…the Alum dipped stem looks great! The boiling water stem is not bad, but has brown spots on it where parts are dying back, and the “do nothing” stem is a sad state of affairs.

My conclusion to this experiment is that if you are cutting from your own garden and need the stems to last a few days, worry not about anything but a fresh cut and fresh water.

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BUT, if you are purchasing cut stems, OR want them to last a long time, go with the Alum method. If you don’t have Alum handy, but want to do something, the boiling water method is the trick.

Here is a great online resource that can provide you with more information on the Alum method and the boiling water method to keep the drooping hydrangeas away!

I learned something here, and I hope you did too! Have you ever used either of these methods and gotten a different result? Do you prefer one over the other? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

jbryanHow to Fix Drooping Hydrangeas
  • Beverlee Henion

    My hydrangeas from the florist last at least three weeks by using alum. It was the greatest trick ever to keep hydrangeas looking perfect for weeks!

    • Julie Edwards Bryan

      Its an amazing secret for Hydrangea lovers. Glad it worked for you!