How to prune, grow and dry hydrangeas

These lavish blooms are at their best in the summer months. Here’s how to make the most of them in pots, vases and in your garden.

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Hydrangeas are water carriers, and as their name suggests they need lots of water to thrive. For this reason, any area with partial shade is ideal. Protection from the midday sun is essential, so look at west-facing locations in the garden.

Cutting tips

  1. To arrange hydrangeas in a vase, remove the lower leaves and cut the stems at a sharp angle to help boost the water intake.
  2. Hydrangeas often don’t need any arranging. A bucket full of blooms can look just as gorgeous as individual blooms in single vases.
  3. If your hydrangeas are starting to wilt, place them lying down in a bath of cold water overnight.

READ MORE: MAKING CUT FLOWERS LAST

In the garden

Blue hydrangeas require acidic soil; the more alkaline the soil the stronger the pink will be. You can buy commercially prepared blue and pink mixtures, but remember it’s too late to change the colours once the plants are in bloom.

Hydrangea pruning tips

They need pruning twice a year, once in winter and once in summer. In winter, check your hydrangeas for any green buds on the brown canes. This is a sign that they’ll flower, so don’t prune these. For brown canes without green buds, cut the canes back to the base of the plant, making sure you leave the new growth (green leaves) at the base of the hydrangea. Feed with hydrangea food and mulch the soil well. Pine needles are an ideal acidic mulch if you’re after blue flowers.

In summer, deadhead any spent flower heads and remove any old or dead stems. Add plenty of compost to the soil and mulch well to improve the soil’s water-holding capability.

Drying tips

Hydrangeas are great for drying and enjoying all year round. Stand the stem in a solution of 40% glycerine to 60% hot water. The process is complete when beads of glycerine show on the flowers. You can also dry them by hanging them upside down in a dark cupboard. Alternatively, cut faded blooms towards the ends of their life, stand the single stems in separate containers with a few centimetres of water and allow the water to evaporate naturally.

READ MORE: HOW TO GROW AND USE LAVENDER 

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