how to dry annabelle hydrangeas

by | Aug 15, 2019 | All Things Home, Decorating, Fall, Gardening | 23 comments

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I have been patiently waiting until my Annabelle hydrangeas were just right, so I could cut off the blooms and dry them.  I did this last year and I have been so pleased with how long the dried flowers have lasted!  I cut them almost a year ago and they still make a nice bouquet.  So, for those who have asked, this is how to dry hydrangeas.  I’m specifically working with the Annabelle variety.

how to dry hydrangeas | when to cut them

Wait until the blooms turned pale green and are a bit dry to the touch.  They don’t feel completely crispy and have not started to brown, but they are not as soft as they were when they were white and freshly bloomed.  These are definitely ready to cut and probably could’ve been cut a few days sooner to minimize the brown/dried petals.

how to dry hydrangeas | miss mustard seed

how to dry hydrangeas | cutting & preparing

Using pruning shears, clip off blooms that are a nice color and don’t have too many brown spots.  The front bloom in the picture below was a little bit on the bubble as far as having too many brown spots, but it was still okay to use.

how to dry hydrangeas | miss mustard seed

Remove all of the leaves from the stems.  These just shrivel up and don’t add anything to the dried flowers.  Cut the hydrangea stems to the desired length.

how to dry hydrangeas | miss mustard seed

how to dry hydrangeas | make an arrangement

It’s going to feel strange, but arrange the flowers in a vase, basket, or container without water.  And that’s it!  Just leave them alone to let them dry.

how to dry hydrangeas | miss mustard seed

Last year, I tried letting the flowers dry in a little bit of water, letting them dry completely on the bush, and then cutting them, and this method I just shared today.  The method of cutting them and letting them dry in a vase without water yielded the best results for me.

The key to the flowers lasting a long time is not touching them!  Just put them somewhere and, as much as you can, leave them alone.  The more they are handled, the more they will shed.  Curious cats also don’t help the situation, so putting them in a place safe from pets or even under a large cloche will also help them last a long time.

I bought Annabelle hydrangea bushes to plant last year mainly because they were on sale and have a good reputation for blooming reliably.  I didn’t know the blooms dried so nicely, so that ended up being the cherry on top!  So, that’s how to dry hydrangeas to preserve them for future use.

I love to put them in baskets on top of a hutch to fill up some dead space or to tuck them into arrangements in the fall.  (You can see more details on this fall mantel arrangement HERE.)

how to dry hydrangeas | decorating for fall | miss mustard seed

I’ve even seen dried hydrangeas used for Christmas decorating!


  1. Ann

    I’ll have to try this. I just got an Annabelle from my mother-in-law last year. She dug it up last spring, put it in her truck and then forgot about it for 4 days! By the time she remembered, it was shriveled up and half dead BUT I planted it anyway and it was gorgeous this year. Very hearty hydrangeas indeed! 🙂

  2. Kim

    This is how I have always done it, wait until they feel “papery,” cut, stand up to dry in a vase or basket. You will also want to pick them when they turn a deep brown/rust color as well, so you can get two looks out of the same plant. They can last for YEARS AND YEARS once dried.

  3. Jen

    I’ve read (most likely on Pinterest) that if you spray them with a little bit of hairspray once fully dried they will not shed as much. I can’t say if that’s true or not but maybe it will work.

    • Lydia Pace workman

      I have a few Annabelles that I dried in a vase years ago. I have hair sprayed them a few times over the years but they have not shed and still look lovely.

  4. Sherry

    So when you cut them when they are just starting to dry on the branch, do you risk “pruning” too early and forcing another bloom? I have the Limelight version and are in Zone 5 (Wisconsin)–have read about not pruning until late Fall or early Spring. Just don’t want to hurt the bush. 🙂 I would like to try this though.

    • Kim

      I am in a colder zone than you, in eastern Ontario, Canada. I can tell you that Annabelle hydrangeas are the toughest things going! You cannot hurt this bush unless you forcibly TRY to kill it! You can cut it all the way to the ground each year and not have anything go wrong. Don’t worry about late blooms, they do this naturally anyway. The blooms should feel like paper before you cut them, all the way through. They will be green at that stage, not white.

  5. Elizabeth

    This is sooo funny you posted on this literally was thinking of the same thing yesterday! I love these dried Annabelle’s and not even because my daughters name is Annabelle. They are a nice touch of life through the winter!

  6. Laurie

    Thank you for this post! I had no idea. I’m curious what exactly happens if you cut them when they are white. And what if you did that and hung them upside down until they were dry? Has anybody tried that?

    • Anna?

      They’ll go slightly yellooish, vintage kind of white, but nevertheless still beautiful
      And you can enjoy them for years to

  7. for years.Janet in Kansas City

    To dry them I dip the tip of the stems in boiling water for about 30 seconds then put them in a vase with no water. There are some I have had for years.

  8. Maureen

    If you want to keep the green color, do not put them in sunlight. Sunlight will turn them brown. This also is true for drying blue hydrangeas.

  9. Peggy

    I have had my dried hydrangeas in a large stoneware crock for decades. They will last as long as you don’t knock into them and cause them to shed. I have not had success by drying them upside down. Better to put them in a container and leave them.

  10. Gay Correll

    I speak from recent experience: sometimes, when a grandson is being silly and throws a toss pillow at his twin sister, misses, and hits the dried hydrangeas instead, they survive the attack with just a few lost blossoms! We cleaned up the petals, fluffed the hydrangeas, and their mom was none the wiser…

  11. Michelle

    You can spray paint them too. Not heavy just a little mist…red and orange are very pretty.

  12. Jeanie

    I have some dried that are several years old and as long as I leave them alone they do great!!

  13. Holly

    Pound the stems with a hammer let them soak up a mixture of warm not hot water and glycerin. They will dry naturally and will not shatter.

    • mary m

      You can do this method with holly as well.

  14. Linda Charlton

    Hydrangeas can be sprayed with floral fixative to stop the shedding. You can also use a strong hairspray for this and it’s much cheaper. I have had mine for about 5 years’

  15. Mary m

    I have seen them misted with gold or silver paint. Different soil will affect the color as well. My mother used to throw nails under the plants and get a deep blue. acid soil in an Pine Forrest area will get a redish hue. On cape cod I have seen them with a variation of blue green on one bush.

  16. Dale Tebbe

    Have found that only the blooms on green stems dry the best…the ones with woody stems? Not so much.

  17. katieonwhidbey

    Do we really want hydrangeas to last for years? I pick them like Marian does, arrange them in a vase, and, come spring, toss them and their dustmites out! When spring comes, so do fresh flowers and that’s what I prefer in my house all the way until late autumn. But that’s me.

  18. Linda C

    I also love hydrangeas in the house. Years ago, I cut some before they were dry and hot glued them onto a grapevine wreath. They dried nicely and looked great for many years.

  19. Jean Terry

    What color hydrangea are yours Marian?


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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