Reviving cut hydrangeas

Written by gryphon adams
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Reviving cut hydrangeas
Hydrangeas left out of water will wilt. (wedding bouquet image by Melissa Schalke from

Showy hydrangea blooms work well in home floral arrangements and for special events including banquets, proms and weddings. From the moment of cutting, the hydrangea flower begins to lose its life. Lack of water or food, damage to the stems and heat all cause hydrangeas to wilt. While it is not possible to keep the flower from dying, several strategies will prolong its life. Revive cut hydrangeas with the same techniques that florists use.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Clean vase
  • Sharp knife or garden shears
  • Floral food

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  1. 1

    Prepare a fresh vase. The bacteria that grow in vases of cut flowers shorten the life of the cut hydrangeas. Add room-temperature water to within 2 inches of the top of the vase and mix in floral food. This product provides nutrients to help revive the wilted hydrangeas.

  2. 2

    Cut the stems of the wilted hydrangeas. Creating a fresh cut will improve the water uptake for the hydrangea bloom. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle, ideally under water. Cutting the stem under water protects the wilted hydrangea from more moisture loss. Use a sharp knife or sharpened shears. Do not use scissors or a dull implement, as these tools will crush the stem and damage the flower’s ability to receive water and food.

  3. 3

    Revive hydrangeas with the boiled water technique. According to Judith King, a member of the American Hydrangea Society and creator of, hydrangea blooms sometimes wilt quickly due to the sticky fluids in the stems; to revive hydrangeas, boil water, then put the hydrangea stems into the hot water for 30 seconds before putting them into fresh water.

  4. 4

    Place the revived hydrangeas in a cool location. If they are for an outdoor event, keep them cool until it is time to put them out. If possible, keep them out of direct sunlight and away from heating vents.

Tips and warnings

  • Most cut flower retailers carry floral food.
  • Putting cut hydrangea stems in a clean container of warm water for half an hour will help revive them.
  • For arrangements made with floral foam, soak the foam in the water and floral food.
  • Add a little sugar or soda -- regular, not diet -- to the water for the cut hydrangeas if flower food is not available.
  • Keep the bouquet fresh longer by changing the water every two days. Keep the water level high in the vase.
  • Cut away from yourself when cutting stems. Shears are easier to use. If you use a knife, place a cutting board in the sink before adding water. This provides a stable surface to cut the stems.

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