When we first moved in our house, there was a small hydrangea bush, neglected like everything in the yard had been. I never realized how ugly they are in the winter! It’s a big clump of sticks poking out of the ground. Regardless I was excited to cut blooms when it warmed up, but I never got around to bringing it back to its former glory. There were one or two tiny blooms, and that was about it. We eventually tossed it (sorry green thumb people) when we installed a bigger gate and it was in the way.
Now my hydrangeas come from grocery stores until we restore our yard. It sucks when you head over to the store with sparkly, hope-filled eyes, only to have the hydrangeas you bought wilt within a day! The first time it happened to me I told my husband I paid $12 for a bunch of “bad flowers.” But the flowers weren’t bad, and there’s a way to keep ’em looking rull purty for weeks, no joke. The secret? Boiling water!
First things first, grab the flowers, a pair of sharp, clean scissors, and the vase you will put them in. My “vase” is actually a clearance jar missing it’s lid from HomeGoods. I find that hydrangeas look best in a vase that has a narrower opening; it makes the blooms look bigger and keeps them tidy and compact.
Start by using your scissors to make an approximate mark of where you would like to cut the stem, then hold it up to your vase to see if it will do. When you cut it, make sure you cut the stem at an angle to allow for more water to make its way up to the pretty blooms.
See how it’s not cut straight across? (Random Pro Tip But Not Really: cut your gift wrap ribbons at an angle: it’s so much prettier!)
You don’t want to cut the stem again after placing it in the boiling water, so make sure its the height you like. I stick it in the vase to double check. At this time I remove a good portion of the leaves. It’s essential that you remove any leaves that would be sitting below the water line. I leave a few big ones near the bloom to add interest in the arrangement.
Now here’s the culprit of your past wilty blooms: when you cut the stem, the hydrangea produces a sticky fluid at the bottom. That is what keeps your flower from sucking water up, and the poor thing gets so thirsty it just keels over. “‘My oh my, I do declare it is a hot day now isn’t it? Why, I could use a refreshment myself!” *fans self with leaves*
To keep your southern belle from having a fainting spell, take the bottom 1″-2″ of cut stem and dip it in boiling water for about 30-45 second. It’s that easy. And I really did try to get a picture of that, but I’m not great with the camera and somehow me multitasking with it near hot water didn’t sound like a fab idea.
Once you have followed the steps for all blooms, arrange them and you’re done sister!
I typically like more wild-looking flowers, or just cut tree branches, but these were so full and pretty I couldn’t pass them up. I’ve gotten in a MAJOR fall decorating mood, but I’m forcing myself to cling to summer pleasures! As a plus, my cats don’t seem to mess with them since they don’t have a ton of leaves. I’ve done the boiling water trick a couple of times and each time my flowers have lasted for at least two weeks looking brand new.
Flowers encompass a fleeting beauty that asks us to pause, notice, enjoy. They won’t be around for long, and they are one of the most striking parts of nature. Promise me that if you get some flowers for your house, you’ll enjoy them. See how the petals glow from the sunlit window. Take a stem out and bring it to a friend for no reason. Flowers may seem pointless to some, but for me, they are proof that there is still much beauty to be found in this life.