How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

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Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers, but they are a little finicky, if you ask me.

You get them all set up just right and many times, a few hours later, you end up with one or all of them totally wilting on you!

It is really maddening, too, if you needed them for an event or you actually spent good money on them and now they look like they should be thrown in the compost.

I learned a lot about the world of cut hydrangeas several years ago due to my sister’s wedding.

Her florist fell through a couple weeks before the big day. I will spare you the details of that fiastco, but just know – it wasn’t pretty.

I decided to wing it and see if I could create exactly what my sister was hoping for.

I found a hydrangea farm in California that ships to florists, I carefully tried to order the perfect sagey green blooms that she wanted.

I had it all figured out, I scheduled my day to be home when they arrived. They would be flown in over night, wrapped in ice/ gel packs to keep them cool in the August heat and carefully hand delivered by the trusty Fed Ex guy.

The morning they arrived, I opened the huge boxes and . . .Uh Oh. . . I called my sister and declared, “Well, the flowers made it here, but I hope you like blue because these are definitely blue!”

At that point, we were out of time, so we just rolled with it.

Each of the stems had to be trimmed, put in water and placed in my empty fridge as fast as possible.

Did you know that flowers will wilt next to fresh fruits and vegetables? Apparently, the produce emits a gas that negatively effects the flowers.

Now, giving flowers fresh cut stems is usually all you need to do. And by “fresh cut”, I mean you cut off about an inch from the bottom of the stems and I like to cut on a sharp slant.

However, hydrangeas produce a type of sap that will plug up the end of the stem and stop the water from being received.

There are three ways to prevent this.

Option One

Smash the end of the stems with a hammer to allow more openings for the water to be absorbed. One good tap will do it.

Some of the stems would be showing in bouquets, so I didn’t want to damage them for the wedding. But, I do this regularly now for my own flowers at home.

Option Two

  Hold the tips of the stems under boiling water for thirty seconds.

Yeah right, that would have put me under. The wedding was at my in-laws barn (read- drop dead gorgeous farm) and I would be assembling the flowers the day before, on site. Boiling water, timing each stem for thirty seconds?

No way, Jose.

Option Three

Meet my little friend, Alum. You can find this white, powdery substance in the spice section of your grocery store.


Each stem had to be dipped into the alum about 1/2 inch deep. The alum breaks down the sap and the hydrangeas can continue to drink.

At that point, I didn’t know for sure how well the alum would work, so I was still terrified that hundreds of dollars worth of flowers would be total garbage by the time the ceremony started.

But, my fears were all in vain.

The day and the flowers were a dream come true.

 How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

My beautiful sister. . .

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

My sweet babies. . .

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

That cake!

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

And me and my sister, blue flowers and all.

People called it the “Anne of Green Gables” wedding and, indeed, it was.

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

P.S. If you find that you are too late and your hydrangeas have already wilted.

Don’t worry, you can still revive them. Many times, in fact.

Fill a sink with cool water and completely submerge them for 45 mins. Hydrangeas draw in water through their leaves and petals. How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

They will perk right up.

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

Then, continue on with one or two of the above mentioned options and you’re back in business.

Here is a what the smashed, alum coated stems look like.

How to Keep Hydrangeas From Wilting by She Holds Dearly

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  1. May 2, 2016 / 8:53 PM

    Everything about this is breathtaking. You and your sister are gorgeous! You did a fabulous job with the flowers. I think the blue was such a splendid mix up!!! They were amazing!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:11 AM

      Oh, Jessica, you are just the sweetest! Thank you for your kind words. I think the blue flowers ended up being even better than the original green plan.

  2. May 3, 2016 / 11:23 AM

    Awesome tips! I really love decorating with hydrangeas so I will try your suggestions to make them last longer. The wedding also looked lovely!


    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:12 AM

      Katie, thank you for your compliment on the wedding! I hope you never have hydrangea issues ever again.:)

  3. pamela
    May 3, 2016 / 11:32 AM

    Great tips and I did not know the if you put them next to fruit and veg’s they would wilt.
    thanks for the tips. Lovely Wedding

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:13 AM

      So weird about the other produce, but true. I’m so glad you got some good ideas!
      Blessings to you, friend!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:14 AM

      Awww, thank you, Melissa! It was a really wonderful day. And I really appreciate all your sweet compliments, you are the best.

  4. May 3, 2016 / 1:43 PM

    Wow what a gorgeous wedding! I did not know about the alum, but I have tried smashing the stems and still have them wilt. LOL Any way, I love how you saved the day!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:15 AM

      Nikki, thank you so much, I hope my sister reads all these wonderful compliments about her wedding. Ok, try the alum trick and see how they do, good luck!!

  5. Shaundra
    May 3, 2016 / 3:18 PM

    Great save!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:16 AM

      Haha! Whew, just a little bit of pressure there. 🙂 But, it all worked out.

  6. Kim Price
    May 3, 2016 / 6:39 PM

    What a beautiful wedding, you would never ever know that the color of the flowers wasn’t planned out that way. It’s just completely gorgeous! All the tones compliment so well. Best looking wedding colors I have seen in ages ! I’d love to sit and flip thru ur album, no I’m not a stalker,lol previous floral and seamstress experiences ,I just simply love weddings !

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:19 AM

      Oh Kim, you are so sweet, that means so much coming from someone with your background. You will appreciate that I made my daughters’ flower girl dresses from an old satin skirt that matched my maid of honor dress. Weddings are SO MUCH WORK, but boy are they glorious!

  7. May 7, 2016 / 6:24 PM

    The wedding flowers were truly beautiful. I love bringing fresh cut hydrangeas from the garden into our home, so I am so glad to see this post.
    Thanks for sharing,

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 8, 2016 / 11:21 AM

      Thank you, Suzanne. I’m so glad you stopped by, how wonderful that you have your own hydrangeas in your yard!! Hopefully, these ideas will spare you any disappointment with wilting flowers.

  8. May 8, 2016 / 2:54 PM

    Those are some great tips, I used to buy hydrangeas fro the grocer but the next day they’d look pathetic. I may have to buy some extra ones again for my table. Thanks so much for sharing this at the DI & DI Link party too…Enjoy seeing you every week!

  9. Sarah | She Holds Dearly
    May 8, 2016 / 3:15 PM

    Thank you, my dear! I hope you have much better success with your future hydrangeas. They are so lovely when they behave.

  10. Margaret
    August 28, 2016 / 1:09 PM

    I love hydrangeas! You did a beautiful job on your sister’s wedding flowers.

    As beautiful as they were on the cake, it’s not a good idea to use hydrangeas this way as they are highly toxic (as in “deadly”). Just thought I would pass this on.

    P.S. I just discovered your blog and am really enjoying it!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      August 31, 2016 / 7:49 AM

      Hi Margaret, thank you for being concerned. We did research that topic and conversed with bakery, in the end we were told that if the flowers were dry and not stuck in the cake we would be O.K. so we went for it with no ill side effects. Scary thought, though.:(

      Thank you for the your sweet compliments on the blog!

  11. Ruth
    March 8, 2018 / 2:59 PM

    Gorgeous! I need to arrange the hydrangeas in “frogs” (those chalky blocks) for table arrangements. Do you think that will affect the wilting if I do everything else the same? Thank you!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      March 13, 2018 / 6:20 PM

      No, I think you’ll be just fine.

  12. Terri Ward
    August 29, 2018 / 4:11 AM

    I am going to pick hydrangeas on Friday for my daughters wedding on sunday. I love the alum tip – but do you place them in a vase with water after putting the alum on them?

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      September 3, 2018 / 6:12 PM

      Yes, you put them straight into the water. I hope the wedding was everything you were dreaming it would be! I apologize for not answering you sooner.

  13. Arielle Lewis
    June 17, 2020 / 5:53 AM

    Hi Sarah!

    Question for you! When you dip them in the alum do they need to rest outside of water for a while before putting them back into water or just dip and put right back in?

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      June 17, 2020 / 7:24 AM

      Hi Arielle, great question! I dip them right back in.

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