The Secrets to Long Lasting Cut Hydrangeas

Love hydrangeas? Learn the secrets to long lasting cut hydrangeas! These simple tips will keep your hydrangeas fresh and beautiful for a week or longer.

long lasting cut hydrangeas in blue striped pitcher

Nothing makes your home decor feel more alive than one or two arrangements of fresh, beautiful flowers. Every once in a while, I pick up a few grocery store bouquets of flowers just to lift my spirits. This week, my Kroger had the prettiest hydrangeas, and since my limelight hydrangeas aren’t blooming yet, I couldn’t resist. It also gave me the opportunity to share with all of you a few secrets for making lasting arrangements with hydrangeas. These five secrets to long lasting cut hydrangeas will keep them from wilting and they should last up to a week…maybe longer.

*Affiliate links included. Click HERE for my complete disclosure statement.

hydrangea bloom with angled end
See the round wood board HERE

The Secrets to Long Lasting Cut Hydrangeas

Tip #1: Cut off all lower leaves.

The first thing to do is snip off all the leaves below the bloom. Leaves are moisture suckers, and they muddy the water in your container.

Tip #2: Cut stems at an angle with a sharp knife or scissors.

In order to get the maximum amount of water to the bloom, the stems need a sharp, long cut. Use a knife or very sharp scissors, and cut the stem at an angle (not a straight cut) that is as long as you can make it. Hold the stem down firmly with a few fingers to make the cutting easier if you are using a knife. It’s important to have a sharp knife because hydrangea stems are quite tough. I use these shears, and can achieve a clean, angled cut. This method works just as well on garden hydrangeas as long as they are mature. It’s hard to get a good slice on a thin, young hydrangea stem.

angle the stem for long lasting cut hydrangeas

Tip #3: Dip the cut stem in a jar of Alum.

The easiest thing to do is to pick up a jar of alum at the grocery store (in the spice aisle) and keep it on hand for your cut hydrangeas. As you cut the stems, dip them quickly into the alum jar and then plunge them into a vase or pitcher filled with water. Once you dip a stem in the jar, clearly you can’t use it for anything else!

Related: The Complete Guide to Arranging Garden Flowers + Herbs

fresh cuts on hydrangea stems

Tip #4: Change the water after a few days.

After you have enjoyed your hydrangea arrangement for a few days, dump out the old water and fill your vessel with fresh, cool water. At the same time, give the stems a fresh cut. This will prolong the life of your blooms, and your enjoyment.

Tip #5: Dunk wilted blooms in cool water.

Sometimes, even when you do everything right, hydrangea blooms will wilt. A revival process you can try to save them is to fill your kitchen sink with cool water. Plunge the blooms into the water, and let them sit for 30 minutes. I promise they will be OK! When finished, shake off the excess water and follow tip #4. Hydrangeas absorb water not only through the stem, but through the petals as well.

long lasting cut hydrangeas in pitcher with eucalyptus

When it comes to arranging hydrangeas, I believe that most of the time they can stand alone in a vessel. The hydrangeas I purchased for this post are on the small side, and even though I had six, they looked a little skimpy in the pitcher. I had also picked up some eucalyptus, so I used it as a base for the small hydrangea blooms. Problem solved!

Related: The Story of My Annabelle Hydrangea and Some Encouragement

UPDATE: I received a few questions so I wanted to add some additional information and tips from readers!

  • What does the alum do? I have no idea how it actually works, but the alum keeps the end of the hydrangea stem open so it will take in as much water as possible. Sometimes when hydrangeas are cut, a sticky substance comes out which blocks the water. Alum eliminates this, so the stem stays open.
  • Will this method work on other flowers? Generally speaking, this method will work on stems that are woody. In other words, it’s worth a try on stems that are cut from perennials or shrubs that do not die down in the fall. Some examples are roses, dogwood, lilacs, etc.
  • A bit off the subject, but I had a reader recommend a fertilizer called Jack’s. It’s a 20-20-20 mixture and can be found at nurseries or by clicking HERE. She said it worked wonders on her hydrangea plants and that her blooms were spectacular.
  • From a reader: another trick that will keep cut hydrangeas looking beautiful is to immediately plunge the freshly cut, stripped stems into very hot water and allow the water to cool before arranging in fresh water. The stems can be recut and the hot water treatment repeated if the blooms start to look wilty.
  • The blue striped pitcher: The pitcher was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter and I love it! She got it a few years ago and unfortunately it is no longer available. You can check out my Amazon Shop for some similar options.
hydrangeas in pitcher with eucalyptus

If you are lucky enough to have hydrangeas blooming in your garden, I hope you cut a few and try out this method. If not, treat yourself to fresh cut flowers the next time you are at the grocery. You definitely deserve it.

cut hydrangea printable in frame

Fill out the form below and I will send you a cute printable that is perfect for a porch, potting shed, or any garden-inspired room in your home. By filling out this form, you will also receive new posts, special offers, and announcements from On Sutton Place. You may unsubscribe at any time. If you are already an OSP email subscriber, just visit the Members Only Library to get your free copy. (The link and password are in all my emails.)

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107 Comments

  1. Sue Trollinger says:

    My Limelight hydrangea is my favorite. I cut one large bloom this week and placed in a milk glass vase for a centerpiece for a committee meeting. Thanks for the tips!

  2. The alum trick is truly amazing!!
    My hydrangeas have lasted over a week whereas they would only last a day before. Thank you!!!
    Do you know if alum works on other types of flowers too?

  3. Having many Annabelle, Incrediball, Little Tid Bit, and Endless Summer hydrangeas I’m always bringing some of their beauty inside the house. I keep many to let dry in their vases to give a great fall thru winter texture to the house or make wreaths. These helpful tips on how to care for them will be saved and very helpful. I’ve tried alum but I’m not good at keeping that up but it does help. Thank you Ann!!

  4. Jeannine Leonard says:

    I love hydrangeas! Thank you for all the tips and the printable.

  5. My hydrangeas are bursting with blooms! The alum really helps with longevity

  6. These are great tips. Would you also advise how to dry them for year round enjoyment? Thanks!

  7. Thanks for the tips. I have hydrangeas in my yard but never cut them because they wilt quickly. I’m going to give these tips a try so I can enjoy these beautiful flowers.

  8. Patty Turner says:

    Another way to revive them is to cut stems again and place them in very hot tap water! Amazing revival!

    1. Thanks, Ann! Unfortunately, I cannot enjoy my blooms indoors, as my kitties would surely chew on them. From Pet MD: “The most common symptoms associated with hydrangea poisoning are related to the gastrointestinal tract. Dogs or cats that consume enough hydrangea leaves, flowers and/or buds can suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, hydrangea poisoning can cause lethargy, depression and confusion.“ This might be worth a mention!

  9. Great tips! Hopefully my new hydrangea will give me some blooms this year. My luck with them has not been good in the past.

  10. One of my favorite flowers. Our DIL used them in her wedding. Thanks for the information!

  11. Hydrangeas are so beautiful! I recently moved to a condo and the former owners planted a hydrangea bush in the front. It is full of buds and I am anxious for it to bloom. Thank you for sharing these tips!

  12. Thanks for sharing, I love Hydrangeas! I can’t wait until the little bush I planted begins to produce blooms.

  13. Brenda Hanson says:

    I’m going to try the alum next time l have hydrangeas. I love them in your vase.

  14. I’m moving to a new home in a month with a nonexistent garden. I see it in my head and it is full of hydrangeas, ferns, and hostas. Thanks for the steps to making my blooms last. Now I just need planting and care info and I’m set!!

  15. My hydrangeas are just starting to bloom so I cannot wait to try these tips.

  16. Hydrangeas are one of my favorites…I sometimes dry them and add them to a wreath, thanks for all the tips

  17. Tina Vore says:

    Allelujah for alum! I’ve never heard of it…thanks for giving the tips for preserving the hydrangeas!

  18. I used alum to keep hydrangeas fresh last summer and it worked. Thanks for the tip!

  19. Denise Iams says:

    I love hydrangeas! This post gave me so many hints. Thank you!
    D.Iams

  20. Hydrangeas are my favorite flower. Thanks for the great tips on extending their lives.

  21. Kim Bergeron says:

    By far, hydrangea’s are one of favorite flowers, but I struggle to get very many blossoms. So when I do it is super important to me to make sure I get them to last as long as possible. Thanks for these tips, I will be using them!

  22. I love hydrangeas in all colors and sizes! Thanks for sharing the tips!

  23. Good info to know. These are on my list when we redo our front flower beds.

  24. CarolKindt says:

    Hydrangeas are one of my all time favorite flowers. So I can have them year round in the house I have beautiful blue silk Hydrangeas and everyone thinks I just cut in the back yard. Beautiful.

  25. Kim Seavey says:

    Love my limelights! Have a couple bushed that will not bloom…

  26. Thanks for the hydrangea tips. I love how my blooms dry and are beautiful for a long time.

  27. Thank you so much for this timely information on hydrangeas – my absolute favorite flower. Love bringing them in the house to enjoy!

  28. Terri Herman says:

    Thanks Ann for this concise info! Been wondering about this each spring when my daughter’s limelight blooms.

  29. MARY M SULLIVAN says:

    I like to say I learn something new everyday, but the truth is at 64 that does not always happen.
    LOL! But today reading the hydrangea post was so informative I immediately went outside to cut some and bring them inside. So thank you Ann, for such a great article.

  30. Kristi Flournoy says:

    I love the posts about flowers! We planted tons of hydrangeas in our yard last summer and watching them bloom this summer is so fun! Still waiting on the limelights.

  31. Great information, I plan on getting Jack’s fertilizer to help my hydrangeas grow.

  32. Cheryl Foley💓 says:

    I adore hydrangeas. Thank you for this great advice.

  33. 5 stars
    Thanks for the tips, Ann. Such pretty flowers!

  34. 5 stars
    I don’t know how I missed this post earlier. I have had a hydrangea bush for about 4 years now and it is just now coming into its own. I have loved giving away my blooms as much as I love seeing them myself. Everyone always smiles so big when you give them to them. I am super excited to learn this tricks. My friend’s cut blooms lasted way longer than mine and I didn’t know why. Perhaps she did some of these tricks-lol!

  35. These are great tips! Pinned for later when we get our hydrangeas planted.

  36. Jan Kinman says:

    Thank you Ann for the tips. Love this color! Got my print. It will look really cute above my potting bench on the patio.

  37. Laura Lander says:

    Thanks to Dr Dirr who bred the hydrangeas that bloom on old and new wood! Bloom season is much longer now. I love hydrangeas and am glad to read your post. The blue striped pitcher in your post is perfect! Wish it was still available.

  38. Laura Lander says:

    Thanks to Dr Dirr who bred the hydrangeas that bloom on old and new wood! Bloom season is much longer now. I love hydrangeas and am glad to read your post. The blue striped pitcher in your post is perfect! Did you list a source? If do, I missed it.

  39. Just moved to SC and put in hydrangeas this spring. Can’t wait to try your tips next year!

  40. Love hydrangeas! Wish I could grow them in my climate.

  41. Thanks for the information. love these flowers

  42. Jill Scott says:

    Hydrangeas are my favorite flower. I never knew how to preserve them!

  43. Great ideas! Alum…I didn’t know!

  44. Tonya Baker says:

    Love hydrangeas!

  45. Thanks for the hydrangea tips! I’m going to try this on my blooms!

  46. Lori Geiger says:

    Love Hydrangeas! Moved to our new house last year just as they were blooming! Lost the buds this year to frost. Enjoying them through your article and waiting for ours to bloom again next year!

  47. Judy M Johnson says:

    Thanks for the great tips on hydrangeas. I love them but do have problems with wilting on the ones I pick up at the grocery store. I will be anxious to try your tips.
    Thank you!

  48. Lisa Strother says:

    Love the striped vase and I’m definitely going to try the ideas for keeping my hydrangeas fresh longer. Thanks!

  49. I am fortunate enough to have a variety of Hydrangeas on our property and I have dried alot of varieties with some success but needed your tips on fresh arrangements and having them last longer. Thankyou

  50. This is inspiring me to cut some of my hydrangeas! Thanks!

  51. Ruth Newton says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve never heard of Alum but I’m definitely going to give it a try. Also, do you ever have problems with spiders and bugs in the hydrangeas? I may be a little crazy, but I’ve brought so many bugs in fresh flowers from my yard that I’ve stopped doing it. But I LOVE hydrangeas so I’m anxious to give it a try.

  52. How beautiful! Thanks! I love hydrangeas!

  53. SHIRLEY ORFANELLA says:

    You had me at hydrangea! Love your blue & white theme. I had these exact hydrangeas at our last home and found they didn’t last as long as the blue species when I brought them into the house. If only I had had this tip! Now that we have downsized into a condo, I must get busy & plant them again to make it feel like home . Nothing says summer to me like hydrangeas and the American flag flying by my front door!

  54. Please tell us where to find that awesome blue and white vase!

  55. Ruth Ledyard says:

    You have given such good tips! I have over 300 hydrangeas, at least 70 varieties and love taking picures of them at every stage. After cutting them it is important to give them water every day. They will drink your vessel dry quickly and need refreshing. I have a board on pinterest calld ” I love the flowers and creatures in my garden”. There are many of my hydrangeas on it. There are so many beautiful varieties. Love your vase!

  56. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers, they remind me of laces beautiful.I had a bush in my previous house and always cut the flowers for small arrangements.Thanks for the tips.Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day !

  57. I cut hydrangeas about a month ago and followed the alum dip trick. The still look freshly cut, the water is clear. What a treat. Thank you. I’ll be doing it all summer.

  58. How would you dry hydrangeas?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Susan! The best way to dry hydrangeas is to let them dry on the bush. Wait until they are almost dry and then cut the stem. Place them in a vase with no water to finish drying. Don’t smush the blooms though…make sure they get plenty of air. I also have a series of posts on limelight hydrangeas that talks about drying. Here’s the link: https://www.onsuttonplace.com/category/garden/limelight-hydrangeas/
      Enjoy!

  59. Thank you for the tips! I love hydrangeas and so wish I could grow them here; unfortunately it just gets too hot and they can’t take the sun. I don’t have anywhere here at the house where I could plant then where they would be shaded :( I can remember when I was a kid and my grandma was living she used to have the most beautiful hydrangea bushes along the back of her house off to the side of her porch; luckily it faced the north.

  60. Joanne Narozniak Iovine says:

    Anne, thank you for these tips; I ordered both the alum and fertilizer from Amazon…can’t wait to try them. Also, thanks for responding so promptly re the font info. I created several framed quotes for my granddaughter that came out just great! Keep writing – I enjoy your blog!

  61. Love your posts Ann, always helpful!! I really enjoy the hydrangeas; fresh bouquets and dried arrangements. Now that I know about the alum I will definetly be picking more for the house and porch. Thanks for all you do; love your style.

  62. Hi Ann
    Did you know that if you wish to dry your Hydrangeas simply put them in a dry vase . This works well with peonies too! But they must be cut when they are at there best to get lovely keepsake blossoms.

  63. Margie Clements says:

    Hey! I was wondering if you can use the Alum for other cut flowers.I really enjoy your site! Keep it up!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Margie…you can give the alum a try on other woody stems. There is an update at the end of the post that explains it. Thank you!

    2. Margie Clements says:

      Thank you so much for the information! I will try and see if it works.

  64. Thanks Ann! I love my hydrangeas but keeping the cut ones more than a day has always been a hit or miss challenge for me. Now that I have some tips to preserve my favorite flowers, I’m looking forward to being surrounded by these beauties indoors and out. Thanks again for sharing!

  65. You have the best ideas. always appreciate what you share with us.

    Hope everything is good for you today.

  66. This is an excellent post for hydrangeas lovers. Mine actually bloomed this year but the blooms are small. Still trying to figure out what isn’t working… May have to try alum on the lilacs when they bloom next spring.

  67. I’m eager to try the alum. Another trick that works for me is to immediately plunge the freshly cut, stripped stems into very hot water and allow the water to cool before arranging in fresh water. The stems can be recut and the hot water treatment repeated if the blooms start to look wilty. I think this is a hint from Martha Stewart. Enjoy hydrangea days!! I love your posts. ❤️❤️

  68. Laura Tollander says:

    Thanks for the tips, I will try this for sure! ❤️

  69. I am going out of town, but as soon as I get back, I am definitely going to try this on hydrangeas from my garden! Will report back. Thanks for sharing.

  70. Great tips Ann. I will be trying this on mine if they ever decide to bloom.

  71. Susie Patterson says:

    Thank you so much for those wonderful tips! I’ll try it when my garden hydrangeas bloom.

  72. Ann
    How timely your piece on hydrangeas was. I have a new garden this season and the hydrangeas are in full bloom, I can’t wait to take some cuttings and try your suggestion to make them last longer. Thank you for shading.

  73. Always appreciate a new tip, didn’t know about alum. Thanks for your great posts.

  74. Sue L Matthews says:

    Mine are blooming here in Fla. Thanks for the tips.

  75. Susan Horn says:

    Never new about using Alum! Love ALL your tips! Thanks! Sue Horn

  76. mattsgramma says:

    Thanks for the info about dipping in alum!

  77. I shall have to get alum. I’ve never purchased it before!! I had hydrangeas early on but we had such a hot spell that mine just fried. It’s been cooler so I’m hoping the new flowers will last longer again!!Thank you for another great tip!!

  78. Ann, I’ve always known to cut woody stems at an angle and to remove lower leaves to avoid them rotting in the water, but the bit about them being water-suckers is new to me. Also, is this method effective with other types of woody-stemmed flowers? I’ve heard, too, or read, that you should crush the ends of woody stems to allow more water to be absorbed. Have you ever heard that?j

    I don’t have a hydrangea bus—yet. But I’m waiting for them to go on sale at my local garden center. They are so pretty in just about any vase or other container.

    Thanks for the tips on getting them to last.

  79. Cookie Eddings says:

    Thank you kindly, Ann. I have two plants in my garden, now all I need is some alum.
    I .get excited when I see an email from you. You’re my favorite.

    cookie

  80. This year all three of my hydrangeas are loaded with blooms ???? So glad you posted this as I’ve never had the best luck when I cut some of mine.Can’t wait for them to all bloom. Always look forward to your posts.

  81. I have never tried this…but this year I will. We are no where near blooms yet in Minnesota.
    My peonies are just now starting to bud and pop. Today we had a horrible rain storm go through
    and looking out my window many of my peony stems are down:(

  82. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers.I had some in our former
    house,I miss the in this house.Did not know about the alum, thanks
    for the tip.

  83. Never knew about alum being used for cut flowers! This is why I love your blog. Thanks for doing what you do…

  84. Deborah V says:

    Love all your hydrangea tips! I follow them diligently and you are spot on. Thank you. Love your blue and white vase. Also for those that live near a Trader Joe’s they too have lovely hydrangea bunches.

  85. Thank you I learned something new today

  86. Hi Anne,
    What a great post! I thought I would share what I have been doing the last few years with my hydrangeas. I live in Columbus, Ohio. My hydrangeas are on the side of the garage & do not get sunlight till afternoon. Opposite of what you think it should be. I wish I could remember what we did to the soil before planting them. I have an Endless Summer which was a monster last year & looks to be even bigger this year & just starting to bloom. I forget what my other 2 are. I need to look them up. One has multi-colored blooms & the other is kind of strawberry colored. They are much smaller but have only been planted 2 & 3 yr’s ago. I used Miracle Grow Bloom Booster for years & loved it. But a few years ago I was in Amish country in Ohio & stopped at a nursery to browse & asked for some, I was told they did not like it. They said it was missing some ingredients they like. They used a product called Jack’s. It is a 20-20-20 mixture. I have been using it ever since & it is wonderful! I can get it t my local nursery. I also periodically use an aluminum sulfate mixture around the perimeter of my Endless Summer to keep the blue-purple color which I adore. I can tell when it needs more as the color starts to get lighter but I get the most interesting shades! I get throat divine bouquets! Last year for th first time I managed to cut some blooms to dry at the right time which I never seem to be able to do. I still have 2 that are small but I love them knowing they are mine. ???? I want a Limelight so bad but don’t know where I would put it. I will post a photo to my Instagram this week of what they look like right now & also what I bought recently for the color, it is a different product for me this year. I assume it is a mixture that has aluminum sulfate in it. I bought it at my local nursery. I also want to try rooting some cuttings high sounds very simple to do. I could have a yard full of hydrangeas! Look for me @quiltsick on Instagram. Sorry for the long post!

  87. Liz @ Infuse With Liz says:

    I need to get some alum. I’ve read this before but haven’t tried it. I also have not made it a point to cut off the leaves so if that helps then I’m all for it. Thanks for the tips!

  88. Wish i had this posting earlier My Hydrangeas have been blooming for about a month. Thanks for the tip because they are still blooming so the ones I cut now will last a lot longer!!!! Keep the good post coming love your articles. Regina

  89. Out here in Southern California, my hydrangeas are in full-tilt-boogie-bloom! Just the other day, I cut 4 of them and put them out for display. I did remove all leaves below the water line, but did NOT know about cutting the stem at an angle, or dipping them in alum. Will definitely add these 2 steps – thank you so much for this info! Pinning!

    1. Paulette Myers says:

      Alum… who knew and so easy to do. Thanks

  90. Thank you! Your emails are a bit of sunshine!

  91. Hydrangeas are my favorite. It’s not worth having them where I currently live. Sadly the deer eat every flower before it can bloom.

  92. Helen Louise says:

    I am so grateful for this post. Now I’ll have the gumption to cut one bloom from my beautiful hydrangea that was a mother’s day gift from two years ago, and enjoy seeing it inside my home. Yes, I’ll start with only one to be sure it works for me as this plant is my treasured favorite.

  93. Great tip ! I also live in Ohio and I never had blooms on my hydrangea. What fertilization do you use and when should I fertilize them ?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Bev, Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of success with my hydrangeas blooming either. I have endless summer and annabelle but neither variety blooms well. I have 3 limelights that do bloom beautifully. I fertilize them in the spring with Bloom Booster from Miracle Gro. I’m not sure if it’s organic or not. They get sun until early afternoon so I think they are in the perfect place.

  94. Virgini Hikdebrandt says:

    Wow, Ann ! Does alum work for other cuttings like roses ?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Alum is recommended for any flowers with a woody stem so you could give it a try on roses. It would work better on a rose with a thicker stem than a thin one.

      1. Virginia hildebrandt says:

        Thank you for the information! Just love your posts !

  95. My absolute favorite flower. This an peonies.
    My hydrangeas are blooming here in Alabama. So beautiful. There are several new hydrangeas over past years. Limelight and strawberry cream for examples.

    Enjoy

  96. JUNE LORRAINE ROBERTS says:

    Great tip Ann. Do you think it would it work for other stems?

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi June…Alum is suggested for any flowers with a woody stem. That would be roses, lilacs, dogwood. Basically any perennial or shrub that doesn’t die completely back in the fall.

  97. Penny at Enjoying The Simple Things says:

    Thanks for the tips! Love that blue and white striped vase!