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How to Revive Hydrangeas

by Alex DiBacco
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how to revive hydrangeas // cut hydrangeas wilting // hydrangeas died overnightHydrangeas are one of my favorite types of flowers. While they’re absolutely beautiful in any color, they tend to wilt extremely quickly. After a lot of trial and effort, I’ve figured out how to revive cut hydrangeas and, through trial-and-error, learned which method actually works!

I’ve been grabbing a few bunches of hydrangeas from Trader Joe’s each week, and sometimes they hold up really well. Other times, I wake up to find my hydrangeas died overnight.

I first started experimenting with how to revive hydrangeas when I had bought a bunch for a photoshoot the next day and woke up to some really sad blooms. It was a sponsored shoot and I definitely needed the flowers for it, so I went ahead and tried a few things I found online.

At first, it didn’t seem like anything was happening, so we went out and did one shoot (we needed the flowers for the second). I was super surprised to come home and find the blooms looking 100% revived! It was some serious magic.

I was even more surprised when the hydrangeas lasted another 3 days after the shoot with absolutely no extra care. This method isn’t just a short term solution; it can make your hydrangeas last twice as long. I now use it every time I buy hydrangeas to double the lifespan of the blooms.

After posting about it on my Instagram story, I realized how many other people have the exact same problem with their cut hydrangeas wilting. The response was huge! Clearly, we all love hydrangeas, but have trouble keeping them fresh and happy.

I then tried my method a few more times and found that it worked like a charm.

The one exception to all of this is if a bloom is 100% dead and wilted. At that point, you probably won’t be able to revive it, but 95% of the time, this works. I added pictures of my “before” wilted blooms below so you can see how well it worked.

For those of you wondering, I’ve attempted this method with white, pink, and blue hydrangeas; in my experience it has worked equally well with every color. 

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I’m going to give a little bit of background on what causes hydrangeas to wilt, but if you’re just interested in the method for how to fix your wilted hydrangeas right now, then skip to the bottom for a how-to card (it’s printable as well).

What Causes Cut Hydrangeas to Wilt?

how to revive hydrangeas // cut hydrangeas wilting // hydrangeas died overnight

Unlike many other flowers, hydrangeas produce a sticky sap that quickly clogs the end of the stem and doesn’t allow the plant to properly drink water.

Often, this happens because recently cut stems aren’t submerged in water quickly enough. Even a few extra moments can cause the stems to become clogged. 

If you’re cutting hydrangeas from your yard, you should consider bringing a vase of water out with you so that you can submerge the stems immediately.

Simply re-cutting the stems isn’t always enough; the hydrangea blooms might still wilt overnight.

The sap not only seals the end of the stem, but actually seals of the majority of the entire stem. This is why I use hot water (see the method below) to shock the stems and help the sap break up.

Why Do Hydrangeas Wilt Overnight?

Hydrangeas actually drink water through their blooms as well as their stems. This causes them to wilt especially easily in hot, dry climates. If you ever manage to get hydrangeas in the winter, then watch out – they will not be happy near a heater.

Hydrangeas wilt overnight after they’re cut because their blooms are unable to consume any moisture from the dew or rain that they get in the outdoors.

You’ll need to help your hydrangea blooms get the excess water that they need in a different way, because they usually can’t consume enough water from their stems alone. Luckily, they drink from their flowers very easily, so this method works really well!

If you’ve found that your hydrangeas died overnight often, then doing at least the first part of this method every morning will get them to survive twice as long.

The Method: How to Revive Hydrangeas

There are a few methods that people generally use to revive hydrangeas, but I’ve tried putting two different methods together and have had a 95% success rate or so.

Each method is for a different thing (the first part is for when your hydrangeas initially start to wilt and the second is for hydrangeas that died overnight), so I find that doing all of this together works especially well.

This has even worked for me when my hydrangeas died overnight and I didn’t notice until the morning.

I’ll list the steps in detail here, but you can also scroll down for a printable how-to card that’s a bit more concise!

Step 1:

how to revive hydrangeas // cut hydrangeas wilting // hydrangeas died overnight

Fill a tub or sink with cold water (ice cold/tap cold works best). Place the cut blooms in the cold water and let them sit for 15 minutes; make sure the blooms are as submerged as possible.

Step 2:

Meanwhile, boil a few cups of water in a tea kettle or in the microwave.

Step 3:

how to revive hydrangeas // cut hydrangeas wilting // hydrangeas died overnight

Remove the blooms from the cold water and trim the stems at a diagonal. Pour the boiling water into a shatter-proof glass and place the ends of the stems in the boiling water.

Let sit for as long as possible (up to a few hours). Even if you can only let the stems sit in the water for 15 minutes or so, that will be a huge help.

This may cause the ends of the stems to turn brown (because you’re effectively burning them in the hot water), but it’s a small price to pay for flowers that last 2-3 times as long. You need the boiling water to shock the hydrangea stems so that the sap breaks up.

The blooms should slowly revive over the next 12 hours. If you’ve noticed that your hydrangeas died overnight in the past, then try doing this method right before going to sleep. It’s so much fun to wake up to gorgeous blooms.

There you have it: a super simple method for those of you wondering how to revive hydrangeas. At this point, you don’t have to do anything else except enjoy your fresh flowers!

how to revive hydrangeas // cut hydrangeas wilting // hydrangeas died overnight

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting In the First Place

Obviously, learning how to revive hydrangeas is a great trick, but it would be better to simply avoid your cut hydrangeas wilting.

There isn’t any 100% sure way to do this, because hydrangeas are very delicate flowers, but there are techniques to give your blooms a better chance at surviving longer.

#1: Alum

Alum is a spice sold at most grocery stores that actually prevents your hydrangea stems from sealing over with the sap that hydrangeas produce.

After you cut a hydrangea bloom, dip the step in alum and make sure it’s fully coated before putting the stem in a vase of water. This simple step will definitely ensure that your hydrangeas live longer!

#2: Cut Off The Leaves

Hydrangea flowers need a lot of water to stay vibrant, but because the leaves are usually lower down on the stem, they’ll drink up the water first. 

If you don’t mind going without the leaves, then cut them off before trimming your hydrangea stems and placing them in water. This will help the blooms last at least a bit longer and stay more full.

#3: Cut The Stems At An Angle

This goes for most types of flowers as well, but trimming the end of the hydrangea stems at a diagonal before placing them in water gives the bloom more surface area to drink from.

After experimenting with this, I have found that hydrangeas tend to last at least 6 hours longer when the stem is cut at an angle. If you’ve noticed that your hydrangeas died overnight often, then try cutting the stem diagonally and placing them in fresh water before going to bed.

How to Revive Wilted Hydrangeas

Prep Time 5 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Materials

  • Wilted hydrangeas
  • Scissors
  • A sink or tub
  • A shatter proof vase or tub (that can hold boiling water)
  • A tea kettle or means to boil water

Instructions

  1. Fill a tub or sink with cold water. Submerge the hydrangea blooms (as much as possible) in the water and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, boil a few cups of water.
  3. Remove the blooms. Cut the ends off the stems at a diagonal.
  4. Pour the boiling water into a shatter proof glass and place the stems in the glass. Let sit for a few moments (up to 30, depending on how wilted the blooms are).
  5. Transfer the blooms to a new vase with fresh water and watch your hydrangeas begin to blossom again!
xo, Alex

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