I have a pretty big blue and purple hydrangea bush in my yard that we were unaware of until we pulled out our massive diseased bushes a year or two ago. And since then, every late spring through early fall, we have been graced with tons of very pretty and colorful hydrangeas. This bush is probably the nicest thing in the entire yard - not that that's saying much. Our yard needs lots of work, plus probably a visit from the Yard Crashers. Please. Please Yard Crasher people, come to my house. And bring your Kitchen Crasher friends with you too.
Anyway, this past fall we never got around to doing a proper clean-up of the yard
and so when spring came, Josh was convinced that the hydrangea bush was a goner.
But instead of pulling it out, we cut it back, getting rid of all the brown
parts, and lo and behold, a few weeks later, out came the beginnings of the
hydrangeas! We have since learned that this is called deadheading the bush.
Pretty much since the minute we discovered the hydrangea bush, I have wanted to cut some of the flowers and dry them, but both years I forgot until the flowers were no longer with us. And both years I got annoyed with myself. So this year, after doing
absolutely no research or googling beforehand, I cut off the some stems, four to be exact.
I cut the flowers and brought them inside, intending to hang them upside down to
dry them, the way other flowers are dried. But just to make sure, I googled "dry
hydrangeas" - and found out I was wrong. The first piece of advice was to always
make sure that you cut the stems a good 18" long - which I did not. Mine are
more like 12", so we shall see what happens. Why 18"? Because the dried flower
heads are heavy and the longer stem can support more weight. Who knew? Obviously, not me.
The second piece of advice I read was to always be sure to cut your
hydrangeas while it is neither humid nor raining out because moist flowers might
not dry properly. Hmm. So it wasn't actively raining when I went out to cut the
flowers, but it had rained enough the entire night before that not only was it insanely
humid outside but it also was so wet that the entire bottom hem of my skirt was
soaked after I trekked across the lawn to get to the bush. And also, when I brought them inside, the flowers left a trail of water drops from the door to the sink. So yeah, it might have been a little wet outside. Again, who knew? You got it! Not me. Again.
The third and final piece of advice that I read before I shut the computer
and walked away feeling not-too-bright, was to be sure to use a flower stripper
tool to remove the leaves from the stems. I'm not fancy like that. I used my
hands. Apparently, however, just ripping the leaves off is very traumatic to the
flowers. I don't know, I ripped them off and the flowers don't look traumatized
to me. But only time will tell.
So let's review. To properly cut and dry hydrangeas, wait for dry weather
(which ain't coming my friend, this is the Northeast in the summer) and
carefully approach the bush. Be sure to cut the stems at exactly the 18" mark
and then use a stripper (a tool, not the person) to remove the leaves gently.
Or - and here's another way you can go, you can stalk outside after a
six-hour thunderstorm, in your flip flops, holding your camera, a scissors, the baby monitor and your cell phone and cut the stems in a random spot you can without falling into the mulch - which, by the way, is doing a terrible job of keeping the weeds out of the garden. Then you can rip the leaves off and toss them in the garbage before they get your entire kitchen counter sopping wet. Then, and I feel like this might be an important step, you can forget about the flowers for a while so you go get the baby from the crib. I'm just saying, it's nice to have options.
Once the flowers have been cut and de-leafed, the best way to dry hydrangeas is not to hang them upside down like I believed, but to - and this is weird and counterintuitive - stick them in a vase with the stem bottoms sitting in an inch or two of water. Put them on your dining room table - or someplace where they at least have a prayer of not being knocked over - and let them sit there until the
water evaporates. This apparently will not happen in a few hours because I just checked and the water is still there. I'm guessing this could take weeks. Who knows? But I'll be checking on them every once in a while and let you know how the drying of the hydrangeas is going.
Are you a Mom?
Of course you are,
your shirt is dirty :)