How to take care of hydrangeas in a vase - 5 expert ways to keep cut blooms bountiful

Florists know clever tricks for how to take care of hydrangeas in a vase that will ensure your blooms last longer

how to take care of hydrangeas in a vase
(Image credit: Alamy)

Knowing how to take care of hydrangeas in a vase can make a room feel alive. These dreamy, cloud-like blooms may be famously hated by Madonna, but we think they bring a bucolic beauty to even the most urban and modern of homes. And while an elegant choice is a bountiful bouquet of hydrangeas, it doesn't even need to be a bouquet. A few single stems of this blousy plant is enough to create a fabulous floral display. 

'Hydrangeas are one of my favourite flowers,' says florist, Judith Blacklock of Judith Blacklock Flower School. 'I'm happy with just one in a slim cylinder vase; cut so that it is about twice the height of the vase.'

We often like to see them in bedrooms as a posy next to the bed - a welcoming and soft bloom that creates the right mood. But while this popular flower looks lovely but many of us have learnt - to our cost - that the stems require a little maintenance. Whether you've cut them from the garden or bought them from a florist, hydrangeas can be prone to premature wilting - and no one wants that. 

Thankfully, our favourite floristry experts are on hand with simple ways to keep their petals perky.   


hydrangeas by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

1. Do the strength test when choosing your stems

hydrangeas in a vase

(Image credit: Alamy)

Like fruit and vegetables, flowers are often grown out of season. It makes them available all year but they are far less robust than those allowed to bloom according to nature.

'Cut hydrangeas are at their best from July to October,' says florist, Judith Blacklock. 'The later in the season before the first severe frosts, the stronger the flowers. This means they last longer and are easier to dry.' 

Buying earlier in the year, particularly those that are pale colours, can be a recipe for disaster, but there are tricks to find the best of what is available at any given time.  To test if the flower is strong place a hand gently on the hydrangea head. If it feels firm and robust it will last well.



(Image credit: Alamy)

'Hydrangeas are one of the most requested flowers to bring inside,' says floral designer Hazel Gardiner. 'With their huge heads, they can lift a room with one stem. Like all flowers they have specific needs. Hydrangeas have very woody stems which means they need extra help drinking water. Use shaped scissors to cut the stems at an angle and vertically through the middle by about 1-2 inches. This will allow water to move much more freely up to the flower head. This tip can be used on all varieties with thick stems including foliage.'

Florist Philippa Craddock of Philippa Craddock Design Studio & Flower School adds, 'When they are in season, hydrangeas have superb longevity. Once you've trimmed the stems, plunge them into tepid water and allow them to rest in a cool spot for a few hours or overnight, before you bring them indoors.'



(Image credit: Alamy)

Hydrangeas have a reputation for being a tricky cut flowers due to their wilting florets. Although, once you understand the origin of the name - derived from Greek hydor (meaning water) and angeion (meaning vessel) it all makes sense. 

'They absorb water from both their heads and stems, which is why they can be affected by the atmosphere,' says floral designer Hazel Gardiner. 'To stop them drooping gently mist the flower heads with water once a day, especially if your home is particularly warm.'

Hydrangeas' longevity is vastly increased by using cut-flower food too. 'Look for food that is specifically for woody stems,' Hazel says.

We particularly like this cut flower food here.


hydrangea arrangement

(Image credit: Alamy)

Florists have a number of tricks to keep flowers fresh but here are a couple you may not have tried. 

'If your stems wilt prematurely, there is a neat trick to help revive them,' says florist, Philippa Craddock. 'Turn the stem upside down and carefully using a knife or scissors, scoop out an inch or as much as you can, of the internal stem pith and place the stem back into fresh water for a few hours. This helps the stem to draw more water up to the flower head.'

'To revive spent blooms, submerge the entire head in a sink of room temperature water for a few hours,' says floral designer Hazel Gardiner. 'Like a sponge the head will soak in the water and be restored to its original plumpness.'  



(Image credit: Alamy)

Hydrangeas' appeal isn't just their beauty; it's their versatility too. Whether you've grown them or bought them already cut, they don't have to be fresh to enjoy them for longer.  Dried flowers are back in vogue, with new ideas about color and styling, so this is the perfect time to experiment.

'Hydrangeas are as fantastic as a dry flower,' says Hazel Gardiner. 'For this we use the darker, aubergine, autumnal varieties, which hold a greater amount of water than their more delicate lighter coloured counterparts. Simply cut them when they are at their strongest and place in a small amount of water. Then just leave them, they will soak up the remaining water and dry out naturally.'

Hazel suggests enhancing their bold presence by grouping hydrangeas in larger vases and urns. 'Or add one stem to a wild and natural display to create a focal point for the eye,' she says. 'We also use them in intimate tablescapes, cutting them short and displaying them in low vessels brings their delicate beauty right to the eyes of dinner guests.'

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.