When your blooms start to droop, you can easily make them look like new again.

By Andrea Beck
May 06, 2020
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I recently had a colorful bouquet of flowers sitting on my desk as a little pick-me-up, and despite my best efforts, most of them started wilting after about a week. Hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, and lilies were all in the mix, but the hydrangeas were the first to start drooping. I wasn’t quite ready to toss the whole arrangement out yet, so I decided to try a hack I’d come across online for reviving hydrangeas just to see if I could extend the life of the blooms a few more days. To my surprise, it actually worked really well, and most of the individual hydrangea flowers came back from the brink of death.

Credit: Annie Schlechter

Why Do Cut Hydrangeas Wilt So Fast?

Hydrangeas are usually some of the first flowers to start looking sad in an arrangement because they have thick, woody stems that produce a sticky sap, which can make it tricky for them to take in enough moisture in a vase to reach the entire flower. But hydrangeas are also one of the few plants that can draw moisture in through their florets, so it's possible to perk up wilted blooms by completely submerging them in water and letting them sit for a few hours to rehydrate.

This trick for reviving cut hydrangeas may not work every time, but it’s worth a shot if you have a few stems you’re not quite ready to toss yet. According to Rizaniño Reyes, a floral designer based in Seattle, the success of this hack depends on a few factors, including “when the flowers were cut and how long they've been in a box in cold storage post-harvest.” You'll probably have better luck reviving slightly wilted fresh-cut hydrangeas, while ones that have been in storage longer might be a lost cause (but still worth a try!). “I've done this with reasonable success, but it's never 100% from my experience,” Reyes says.

Don't be tempted to try this with other common cut flowers like roses, peonies, or tulips to bring them back from the brink of wilting. They don't have the ability to draw in moisture through the blooms like hydrangeas, so soaking them will only make them rot and wilt faster.

Credit: KRISTSADA

How to Revive Cut Hydrangeas

For anyone like me who isn't ready to let go of their bouquet and wants to try reviving cut hydrangeas, just follow these steps:

  • Trim an inch off the ends of the stems and submerge wilted flowers in cool water. You can fill a bowl, bucket, or your sink with water.
  • If you’re trying to revive multiple stems at once, it might be helpful to weigh down the stems in the water with a lightweight plate so they stay completely submerged.
  • How long it will take for your hydrangeas to perk up again depends on how far gone they were to begin with. You might be able to revive less-wilted blooms in just an hour or two, so check on them a few times while they soak to see if they’re back to looking their best.
  • If you notice that they’re still looking wilted after a few hours, leave them to soak overnight to see if that does the trick.

Your hydrangeas might be beyond saving if they don’t spring back after an overnight soak, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to rehydrate them multiple times. I tried submerging mine for a second time when the florets started wilting again, but they just turned brown and disintegrated (this can also happen if you leave them submerged for too long), so it's really a one-time trick. Still, if you can rehydrate your hydrangeas when they start wilting the first time, then you’ll be able to enjoy your cut flowers for a little longer.

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