How to Cut Hydrangeas So They Won’t Wilt

How to Cut and Care for Hydrangeas So They Won’t Wilt

If you are a hydrangea lover like me, then you probably remember the post I did in the spring about How to Turn Hydrangeas Pink or Blue. With this figured out, I had to find out how to keep my cut hydrangeas from wilting.  Sometimes after you cut them, the blooms can start to wilt without the right care.

I have a few easy fixes to keep cut hydrangeas fresh for a long time.

How to cut hydrangeas so they will not wilt

How to Cut Hydrangeas So They Will Not Wilt

I have had success following these gardening tips about how to cut hydrangeas so that they will not wilt after cutting.

  • Best time to cut hydrangeas is early morning.
  • Hydrangea leaves come in groupings of two and you want to cut the flowers where two of the stems meet so the flower can keep flowering.
  • Cut hydrangea stems about 8 inches long with leaves on them. You can trim to vase size later.
  • DO NOT use clippers or a pair of scissors to cut the stems, instead use a very sharp knife with a smooth blade (not a serrated blade).
  • Do not cut stem straight across. When you cut the stems with scissors or straight across the stem gets pinched which does not allow water in.
  • Use the knife to cut a long diagonal cut down the length of the stem – about 2 -3 inches. This allows lots of water to enter and travel up the stem.
  • Plunge the stems into water as soon as you cut them.

If you cut the stems this way,  you will be rewarded with full lush blooms that will not wilt.

Just cut pink hydrangeas from the garden in a vase on a kitchen table.

Free Hydrangea Vase Idea:  I didn’t have a vase big enough to hold the long stemmed hydrangea blooms I cut from my yard so I used a large pickle jar that you get when you buy in bulk at places like Costco.  Works perfectly.

How to change the color of hydrangeas to purple.

Emergency Method to Stop Hydrangeas from Wilting

If hydrangea blooms start to wilt you can try to revive them by totally submerging them in a “bath” of water for about 40 minutes. Then recut the bottom of the stems and place the stems into boiling water for a few seconds and then back into a vase of fresh water. They should revive in a couple of hours and stay perky for a few more days.

Hydrangea Tips that May Help You Get Bigger and More Blooms Every Year

TIP – Growing Hydrangeas: You would think fertilizer is supposed to make plants grow better, but with hydrangeas, too much fertilizer actually encourages lots of leaves and fewer flowers.  If you want to use fertilizer, one application of a well-balanced slow-release fertilizer in the spring should be enough. 

TIP – Cutting Hydrangeas:  If your hydrangea blooms on old wood (ie. last year’s stems), you should not prune much at all. You can cut the ends off the branches, up to the first set of 2 leaves, if you want to dead head the plants immediately after blooming.  But cutting any more than that is probably removing some of next year’s blooms…and that includes cutting blooms for your dining room table flower arrangement.

How are your hydrangeas in your yard or garden growing this year?

Did your hydrangeas bloom this year?  If not and you want to know the reason why they didn’t, try this fix for beautiful hydrangea blossoms every year.

Pink and light purple hydrangeas in a glass vase on wood table in kitchen

Flower gardening tip for hydrangeas. How to cut hydrangeas so they won't wilt. This method is easy to do and your hydrangeas will last for days, even weeks! | In My Own style

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  1. I love my hydrangeas! They line the back of my house which faces the lake. I also dry some each year. They are such beautiful flowers that give joy fresh or dried.

  2. I cut mine off the bush and them put them directly iN water. When I take them inside I trim them and dip the ends in boiling water. As long as the house stays cool they’ll last for days that way.

    1. I also add leftover coffee and coffee grounds to my Hydrangeas at least once a week. It’s a free and I like reusing the leftover coffee. Most of my Hydrangeas are very pink this year. I have a mature hedge of 5 Endless Summer Hydrangeas.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Morgan – I have added coffee grinds at my previous house – I think they make the soil more acidic – blue flowers? I tend to think no matter what you do, the blooms will show up just as they want. I just planted 3 hydrangeas in the front of my house.They are still very small, but as the grow, I am hoping the blooms will be pink/purple. I am going to try for that at least, but will be happy whatever color they end up being since I love hydrangeas. :-)

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Again Morgan – Will try dipping the ends in boiling water the next time I cut my hydrangea. I also read you can stick the ends in Alum. Going try that also. :-) Two years ago I had cut hydrangeas last for 3 weeks with vibrant color the whole time. I have no idea what I did different, but it sure was nice having them last that long.

  3. I’m a beginner at hydrangeas. Both of mine are on “woody” stems. I’m in zone 9. What variety of hydrangea do I plant to get the ones with green stems?…like the ones in flower arrangements?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Tanna – I am not sure what you mean by green stems. If your plant has all woody stems, you may have to wait another year for new growth to grow from these woody stems – these new stems will be green and will most likely grow right out of the woody stems.

      This happened to my hydrangea when I cut the stems two years ago and didn’t leave a bud or leaf on the stem. If your hydrangea blooms on old wood (ie. last year’s stems), you should not prune much at all. You can cut the ends off the branches, up to the first set of 2 leaves, if you want to dead head the plants immediately after blooming. But cutting any more than that is probably removing some of next year’s blooms and any green stems from formimg.

      Does this answer your question? I think you have the right variety of hydrangea, you just have to wait another year for regrow to happen. You should fertilize once early next spring which will help form new growth.

  4. Diana McLean says:

    I know there are many fungicides on the market.
    Most fungicides are heavy metals and if this gets on you, it goes thru the skin into your body. Even if you bathe or shower afterwards, it will go into your body.
    I would recommend baking soda, small amount of oil and water. Baking soda is a natural fungicide and the oil creates the sticker sprayer.
    Heavy metals do not leave the body by themselves.
    If it isn’t eatable, don’t use it.

  5. My country is 32•-37• degrees all year
    Is there any chance for me to get a beautiful big bloom of hydrangea like yours?
    I would appreciate your opinion, tq

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Faa – I don’t think hydrangeas will thrive in 32-37 degrees all year unless you grow them in a greenhouse. Hydrangeas love Miracle Gro MirAcid. Mine always produced the best blooms when I used it.

    2. Victoria Nimitz says:

      Is that degrees Fahrenheit or degrees Celsius?

      1. Tq for your reply Diane.

        Its degrees Celcius Victoria

      2. Diane Henkler says:

        Fahrenheit :-)

  6. I have black spots on the leaves of my hydrangeas. What do I need to spray them with.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi D. It is a fungus. Here is what you need to do:

      1. Fill a spray bottle with 1 pint of tepid water and 1/2 tablespoon neem oil and mix well. Spray the stems and tops and bottoms of the leaves of the hydrangeas and discard the solution, as it breaks down within hours after mixing. Neem oil treats black spot and a host of other fungal diseases. Spray it on the hydrangeas every seven days.

      4. Mix 1 gallon of water with 6 teaspoons of fungicide containing 48 percent copper salts of fatty and rosin acids as the active ingredient. Spray the leaves and stems of the hydrangeas every seven to 10 days depending on severity of the spotting. Copper-based fungicides treat leaf spots and powdery mildew, which causes dark spots to appear on the leaves along with grayish white powder.

      Prevention: Trim the oldest and largest stems to the base each spring and after flowering using bypass pruners. Trimming the stems increases aeration and reduces the dampness and humidity that cultivates the fungal diseases that cause black spots on leaves. Clean up bed plant is in. Apply 2″ of fresh compost to the soil to smother fungal spores and to aid in disease prevention. Although you can use bark mulch or plant and grass trimmings, compost wards off the spread of fungus better.

      I hope this helps and your hydrangeas are healthy next year.

  7. Penny Beaman says:

    Great tip, thank you!

  8. Kay Hendricks says:

    Bought my first PINK hydrangea nearly 4 weeks ago. I can see it is beginning to turn blue, but I did plant it where a pine tree was just removed. I will be going to the store today to get the garden lime to correct the color….thank you so very much for the suggestion. I do have one question though. Some areas of the hydrangea seem to be wilting. What could be the cause for this? Thank you for any suggestions you may be able to provide.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kay – I know that Hydrangeas love water. You can never give them enough. They may just need some more water or the water they do get is not getting to the whole root system. If the plant is on a slight incline that could be a reason it is not getting water all around. I would make sure to drench all around the plant daily and see if it helps.

  9. I work in a flower shop and our tried and true method is just to put them in a tall vase full with the hottest water you can get out of your tap. Happy Clipping!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Olivia for this tip. I will try it next Spring.

  10. Keisha - Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams says:

    I love Hydrangeas! I’ve planted them in my yard for 3 years in a row and they NEVER grow. They’re fine as long as I keep them potted. The minute I plant them into the soil in the beds, they never bloom again…..just small stumpy plants come back each year.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Keisha – I have had the same problem and have been told many different things on why it happens. I summed it up that it has to do something with the variety. If you buy it as say a Mother’s Day gift in a pot – it probably won’t bloom again after the first year. If you buy a “brand” like Endless Summer. It is been cultivated to bloom and will keep blooming no matter where you plant it. It is frustrating.

      1. The old mop head hydrangeas are easier to grow too. Mine have always done well – came from my in-laws back yard 23 years ago. However, I think chipmunks are tunneling to the roots. Wish how I knew to stop it!

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Ellen – Mop head hydrangeas and peonies, too are my faves. I would be sad to find chipmunks playing havoc with them. I hope you can find a way to get them to stop.

          1. I used a small jar W/ a rag tucked inside filled with Ammonia. The odor offends the nasa cavities and they leave. We have a Koi pond and no more racoons !!!

          2. Irish Spring soap works well for me.

        2. Victoria Nimitz says:

          To keep animals out of a garden area, think like an animal: mark your territory! You can purchase commercial animal repellant at the garden center, or make your own.

          I use this mixture: 1 part human pee, 1 part castor oil, 1 part tobasco or other hot pepper sauce. I use 1 oz of each. Mix this in a 1 quart spray bottle. Add water to make one quart. Spray around the plant or area you do not want the chipmunks or other animals in. The pee marks your territory, the castor oil is poisonous to most animals and helps the scent last longer, and the hot pepper sauce burns the nose and tastebuds of the animals. Do not use this mix on plants to be used for food because of the castor oil it contains. Instead, put it on a fence post or on the ground several feet away, or leave the castor oil out of the mix and use a neutral oil like canola oil. This mixture must be reapplied weekly or after a rain. You only need a short, quick spritz.

          If you have a problem with rodents, you can also plant daffodils or jonquils around the hydrangeas. These plants contain a chemical that is poisonous or distasteful to most rodents (e.g. Mice, squirrels, chipmunks, voles, moles) that permeates the soil around them. my house backs up on a nature reserve and this interplanting works for me.

        3. Bucket of water deep …piece of wood as a ramp to the top of the bucket. Dot with peanut butter with a few sun flower seeds as bait. Cover water with seed. You will have some dead pest and if you cannot handle this you will just need to deal. Most states will not allow relocation of rodents. Good luck

  11. I read somewhere that Alum added to the water for cut hydrangas keeps them alive a long time. That plus what you’ve written might make them beautiful forever ;)

  12. Normally my hydrangea bush is a lovely rich purple color. I always thought the color was influenced by the nearby pine trees making the soil acidic. This year I’m so disappointed that, as of yet, I don’t have a single bloom on my hydrangea. Only one lone flower on my Crape Myrtle, and my butterfly bushes are tiny and barely blooming. The daylilies did not last long, either. Not sure if this harsh winter is the culprit, but I don’t know what else it could be.

    In recent years we have been going to Rehoboth and Ocean City, MD. But in my childhood years we always went to Sea Isle City, NJ and Ocean City NJ.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Karalane – My bushes do not seem to be flowering as much this year either, even the ones I have in my backyard that I never do anything to. Maybe it is going to be a late blooming summer. I have Butterfly bushes that my husband also trims every year. They have bloomed, but not as full and lush. I have been to Rehoboth, but not to Ocean City, MD. Maybe one of these days I will get there.

  13. Your hydrangeas are beautiful – they look so perfect! I planted my first last year and have been feeding them to turn deep blue (to go against what will hopefully soon be our newly painted grey and black home) but they are pinkish white. Obviously I’m not feeding them enough. I need to take a soil sample to our local Extension office to have the pH balance checked. I absolutely love hydrangeas. They never fail to turn my head if spotted when out driving, or to get me to click on a picture if I see them while browsing the Internet. I have much to learn about these magnificent flowers, and know that even more after reading your blog and these comments!

    My dill oil and reference book came last week. The dill seems to be working. Had to get used to smelling like pickles though. ;)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lore – To turn your Hydrangeas blue to need to add acid to the soil. MirAcid from MiracleGrow will do this as will the Espoma Soil Acidifier. I will be posting about using the dill oil later today. You do get used to the smell and it does go away after about 20 minutes. :-)

      1. Thank you Diane. I have been adding the Organic Espoma Soil Acidifier according to the directions on the bag. Maybe still not enough? Do I need to be concerned about neighboring plants, like azaleas?

        Yes, the dill smell does go away after a while. Good thing! Instead of wanting to reach for candy I wanted to grill burgers! ; )

  14. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I meant cuttings from a Plumbago another neighbor has close to the street & by her driveway entrance. lol

  15. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I see your tests resulted in grand results. I knew it would. That is what we do down here in Jax, Fla. Although I have not had any since I bought this house. My neighbor either let hers die or had the lawn guy dig them up……. just about killed me. And she had a Plumbago that she had dug up…… grrrr! I love, love, love them both and want both so much. They both bloom almost year round down here. I am planning to run out one night in the dark and take cuttings of the Plumbago …….. grin.

  16. Hey Diane,
    Wow your hydrangea looks beautiful. I love that shade of pink. I feel your pain when it comes to the critters eating the results of my labor. The squirrels really love the Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and I know there is a family of bunnies under my shed that are forever at the buffet that is my flower garden. I have missed you lately but happy you had a few days to rest and enjoy. Vikki in VA

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Vikki – I have been traveling every weekend which makes it hard to get any projects done. I have a long line up of projects that I am doing, but am trying not to stress to get it all done. Come mid August – posing frequency will be back to normal.

  17. They look great! I was wondering if you could recommend anywhere in the Jersey shore area to vacation at. We are looking for somewhere to go but are not sure which beach to go to. Thank so much.

    1. sassafras says:

      Cape May NJ, of course! But I’m biased…I was stationed there for 3 years

      1. Thank you so much for the information. That must have been nice to be near a beach for 3 years. Thanks for all your service.

    2. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim –

      As Sassafras commented above – Cape May is very nice, but my favorite seaside town is Ocean City. I like the south end of the island. It is where I vactioned as a child and still go with my family. Avalon and Stone Harbor are very nice too. If you like to shop or walk on a boardwalk, – Ocean City has one. You can ride bikes on the boardwalk until 11:00 AM. Ocean City is a dry town. No alcohol is served in the restaurants. There are liquor stores to bring in your own and restaurants and bars right over the bridges. Avalon and Stone Harbor have a few bars and restaurants, but no boardwalk. They both have wide avenues for bike riding and plenty of shops. All the towns in Cape May County have great beaches. You do need beach tags which cost a few dollars a day or you can buy one for the week. If you don’t want to buy beach tags, and want lots of party like action, a big boardwalk, lots of restaurants and late night bars – Wildwood has all that. It is also a bit more crowded than any of the other towns I have listed here.

      1. Thanks so much for the information. I was not really sure where to go for a beach trip. It sounds so nice and relaxing. Thanks again and for all the great ideas you share.

    3. I have to vote for Ocean City although have never been to Cape May for a vacation. While working in DC years ago Ocean City provided much needed respite from a high-stress job. I have more than one wonderful memory of walking the boardwalk, breathing in the salty ocean air while eating a hot, rolled-up slice of pepperoni pizza. Now I’m landlocked in Kansas City and feeling very nostalgic. The Ozarks are beautiful, but definitely not the Ocean.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Lore – Since you said you were in DC – did you go to Ocean City, NJ? DC is close to Ocean City, MD. I have never been there. I would love to get to the Ozarks one day. They look beautiful.

        1. Good question. I have never been to Ocean City, MD either. My treks were definitely to Ocean City, NJ, half an hour’s drive from Atlantic City. Great memories. Younger and single and clueless about life’s ordinary challenges ahead. Wouldn’t go back but a lot of fun to remember.

          1. Oh, and yes, the Ozarks can be breathtaking in the fall, especially after a rainy summer like the one we’ve had so far. You don’t go anywhere fast, which can be a good thing for most of us these days. The roads are narrow and winding but speckled with fun little diners, sudden bridges over expanding water and cute little tucked away homes. It’s worth the visit.

  18. Kathy Kearney says:

    Just curious, I’ve been waiting for DAYS on the dill seed EO for sugar cravings. I’m so curious and interested, please explain.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathy – I will be posting about it on Friday. :-)

  19. Diane

    Nice to find another way to prevent hydrangeas from wilting. I have always dipped the cut stems in boiling water for 30 seconds and then immediately into tap water in the vase but it’s not always convenient to use this method. Glad you had a nice vacation!


  20. Christy Keyton says:

    Hydrangeas are my absolute favorite flower! I have over twenty bushes in my yard and several varieties. I have had so many blooms this year that I have given all my friends “cutting rights” in my yard. Right now my lime lights are covered in blooms. I have two that are topiaries – trimmed to look like trees and they are massive. Our zone in South Alabama is hydrangea heaven!

  21. Beautiful! I am so jealous of those who have such beautiful flower gardens, we can’t have them beacause of the deer and bunnies that eat them.

  22. Such a pretty pink. Hydrangeas are the best. My soil has lime in it and my hydrangeas are a mix of green pink and white. I love them . Yours look so beautiful.

  23. Connie Nikiforoff Designs says:

    Great tip and actually this is the preferred method for cutting nearly every flower for using in vases :-) At least that’s what I learned when I took flower arranging class.

  24. Mary-Louise says:

    Oh how I’d love to have these in my beds; our planting zone is 10 and I’ve read they like our area of Florida :(
    Therefore, I ardor reading all about yours! Thank you so much for sharing all your interesting blogs!

  25. Hydrangeas are my absolute favorite flower! Your’s are beautiful.

    I planted a Nikko Blue at the corner of my house about 10 yrs. ago. It bloomed beautifully the first few years, but has not done well recently, even though I fed it. This past winter killed it down to the ground, along with two new ones that I planted last Spring. I actually thought the Nikko Blue was a gonner, but I left it alone to see if it would sprout leaves, and it finally did. The other two didn’t survive :( Next year I plan to plant some Oak Leaf Hydrandeas across the front of my house and maybe next to my driveway. Unless I get a good deal on some more blue ones.

    Do you have any experience with the variety that is supposed to bloom more than once a year?

  26. Rebecca @ Hello Creative Blog says:

    So glad you shared this!!! I just planted a hydrangea bush in a container, and am a) hoping it lives, and b) waiting to cut some blooms for a vase. This is my first hydrangea and I’m not sure how to really take care of it!

  27. Debra @ MsMoozys Open House says:

    Wow they are beautiful, I just got a small plant this year for my birthday and I am thinking about where I will plant it. Thanks for sharing this tip today, have a great week. :-)