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How To Use Hydrangeas In Centerpieces: Preserve For Year Around Beauty

Updated on August 18, 2013
Lovely hydrangeas on a Summer day.
Lovely hydrangeas on a Summer day. | Source
Fresh and Bright Blue Blooms On A Late Spring Day
Fresh and Bright Blue Blooms On A Late Spring Day | Source

As for flowering shrubs, it's hard to beat the beauty of Hydrangeas in bloom on a Summer day. The big showy blossoms of the Moptop species are my favorite. In colors of pink, purple, blue or white, their clusters of flowers bloom profusely on single stalks.

One reason hydrangeas are such a favorite is because of their "chameleon like" ability to change color. Gardeners can pick the color of their blossoms by controlling the PH balance of the soil.

Briefly, blue hydrangeas can be changed to pink by subtracting aluminum from the soil, while adding aluminum changes pink blooms to blue ones. It is also interesting (and easier) to let them grow and change color year after year on their own as they adjust to the soil. It is not unusual to see blooms of different colors on the same bush.

The long blooming life of the hydrangea provides our gardens with many weeks of beauty. They are great for using in cut flower arrangements all through summer.

I like using them when they are a tender, pale blue with white petals that have not turned in early Spring. There are always plenty of the mop heads to grow and bloom later on. In fact, picking the blossoms seem to act as a quick pruning, causing more growth.

These hydrangeas in shades of purple and blue all came from the same "neglected" bush.
These hydrangeas in shades of purple and blue all came from the same "neglected" bush. | Source
Fading Hydrangeas
Fading Hydrangeas | Source

Hydrangeas Changing Color

As the summer season fades, I enjoy watching the hydrangeas change color. In warm,humid climates the blooms turn a spring-like shade of green after the blue or pink fades. Gradually, the green turns to purple. In cooler climates the blooms change to a dark purple. As the growing season declines, hydrangeas every where will eventually turn to beige, light brown and dark brown.

Hydrangeas that have morphed into green and purple look really nice in a bouquet with purple wild flowers. If you live in the deep south where killing frosts are late, try a Christmas centerpiece using the soft green colored ones. Add one or two leftover red Gerber daises or zinnias from the garden and a sprig of holly for a lovely arrangement.

The variety in colors and textures throughout the growing season make it fun and easy to create sustainable flower arrangements with hydrangeas. Learn how to get the most out of using hydrangeas in flower arrangements.

Hydrangeas just beginning to pass from green to purple with purple wildflowers.
Hydrangeas just beginning to pass from green to purple with purple wildflowers. | Source
Hydrangea turning to a beautiful deep purple.
Hydrangea turning to a beautiful deep purple. | Source

Dead Heading Hydrangeas

As you dead head, or pull fading blooms from your hydrangeas, enjoy the cut flowers indoors or outdoors on the porch or patio. Place the purple-ing blooms in glass containers, vases and baskets all around your porch and patio. Be creative in selecting containers. Do you have a nice glass tea pitcher? An old watering can? The "dead heads" will look great in it.

Moptop Hydrangeas do not need pruning. However, some people like to prune them when they are older, and that's OK. Just be sure not to prune them during the Spring and Summer months while they are still growing. Another tip: After the first of August, cut short stems so as not to disturb the bloom buds.

Dried Hydrangea Arrangement
Dried Hydrangea Arrangement | Source

Preserving Hydrangea blossoms with silica gel is a multistep process that I have yet to try. According to those who have, the effort is well worth it, as they reportedly look freshly cut. Borax and cornmeal is said to be a good medium for flower drying. Apparently, this will have good results and costs less. That really makes me want to try it! But for this year I will be content with drying mine.

Drying Hydrangeas is incredibly easy because all you do is pick them. In fact, the recommended method for drying them is to leave them on the bush. Pick them when they are almost totally brown. Then pick the prettiest blooms, the ones with a good shape and have not yet crumbled. Spray with clear Latex gloss and then think of ways to add creativity and color. They will look much better if you dress them up in an arrangement.

Lovely Hydrangea Arrangements

Hydrangeas can be used in a variety of arrangements all year long. See suggestions for lovely early blooming, late blooming and dried arrangements for year-long beauty at mycreativepalette.

Protecting Hydrangeas in Winter

Hydrangeas are surprisingly hardy.Unless you live in a growing zone that experiences single digit temperatures more than a few days in winter, you really need to do nothing. If you do live in a frigid zone in winter you can winterize them by putting a cage-like enclosure around them. Fill the enclosure with insulating materials such as leaves and pine straw. If you do this carefully then next Spring the cycle of enjoying your Hydrangeas the year around can begin again!

This year's Hydrangeas Saying Good-Bye
This year's Hydrangeas Saying Good-Bye | Source


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    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 

      4 years ago from Minnesota

      I love your ideas for preserving the beauty from our gardens to enjoy through out the year. Anytime I can bring the outdoors inside to enjoy...I am happy to do it. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca. - Kudos!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I just replaced the hydrangeas in my dried arrangement the other day with "fresh" dried ones!The others had gotten a bit raggedy.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      4 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed reading your ideas for enjoying hydrangeas year-round. My hydrangeas are saying bye-bye too. But this year, I will snip and save the blooms to enjoy indoors. Thanks so much for the idea.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      Vespa Woolf 

      8 years ago from Peru, South America

      Hydrangeas are the favorite flower of a dear friend who lives in Phoenix. She has managed to nurse a potted hydrangea through Phoenix's fiercest summer weather. She definitely has a green thumb! Next time I visit, I plan to encourage her to dry the hydrangea heads. What a great way to preserve the flowers and enjoy them a while longer. Thanks for sharing!

    • 2patricias profile image


      9 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Tricia (the other Patricia) has about 3 hydrangia bushes in her garden. She dries them for winter floral arrangements. They look lovely, and cost nothing.

      I love the photos on this hub and have voted it "beautiful".

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      9 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks sgbrown! The hydrangeas aren't blooming here yet. Not much longer. They are just a pretty Summer bush!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      9 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I love hydrangeas but have not had good luck with them in the past. I actually haven't tried them since we moved to the country. I am going to have to try them this year. Thank you for the idea! Have a great day! :)

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      9 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Fantastic! They are very pretty flowers, they give one such a homey feeling. It is nice that you have a good memory to associate with it.

    • Brett Winn profile image

      Brett Winn 

      9 years ago from US

      I have a large Hydrangea bush that I confess I have neglected. It was gift after my stepson passes away fifteen years ago in a car accident. You have inspired me to take better care of it and to enjoy it more ... thank you!

    • arusho profile image


      9 years ago from University Place, Wa.

      Great tips, I have yet to try picking dry hydrangeas and spraying with latex, interesting!

    • msshandriaball profile image

      Shandria Ball 

      9 years ago from Anniston

      beautiful flowers and excellent hub

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      This is really interesting. I wonder if we have this in our country. I should try to find out. :)

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To vote, this way please: And be sure to check your email for the other details.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      9 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I love hydrangeas too. I saw some silk ones the other day that were quite real looking, so take heart.

    • RedElf profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      One of my favorite childhood places belonged to our favorite great-auntie. Her garden was magical, and she had several Hydrangea bushes that filled us with wonder when they bloomed - huge and brilliant sky-blue. My cousin has a hedge of pink ones - lucky brat! - but I have never lived anywhere warm enough to grow any but the white ones. Now I am too far north for them, too. **sigh** I make do with the silk variety now. Thanks for the memories.

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      9 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Right! The white ones are unusual but they exist and would really be great for more formal events

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      9 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Right! The white ones are unusual but they exist and would really be great for more formal events.

    • modeca profile image


      9 years ago

      I love Hydrangeas. They also make a great flower for arrangements for weddings and formal events.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      9 years ago from United States

      Hydrangeas are so pretty. In the past, I've just let them dry on the bush & then sprayed them, but they've still shed a good deal. Will have the try the borax & cornmeal. Vote up!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      9 years ago from California

      I love Hydrangeas! Great article and lovely pics to go with it!

    • rebeccamealey profile imageAUTHOR

      Rebecca Mealey 

      9 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      You are welcome! I think Hydrangeas have always been a favorite. They give such a "homey" feeling! I suppose we can call them the unforgettable flower!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      9 years ago from the beautiful south

      So good, I loved this and the dead ones in the vase, so beautiful. It reminds me too of my mother I cared for with Alzheimer's a few years back and my husband and I had her on a drive which were always useless since she just wouldn't look and seemed so listless. One time though we came across those and we could not think of the name of them and Mom peeped out the window and said, "Hydrangea." We laughed and bragged on her and she seemed really pleased. Thanks for bringing back the memory.


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