A staple of the summer garden, Hydrangeas have exploded in popularity with brides, event planners, professional florists, and backyard gardeners. With their large, showy mophead of blooms in every imaginable color, hydrangeas are not just beautiful, but extremely versatile. Hydrangeas are one of the few wholesale flowers that work wonderfully for every type of event - from formal floral designs, to casual backyard parties, whether massed together on their own, or arranged with other flowers, hydrangeas blend naturally into any theme or color scheme imaginable. While considered a “sensitive flower”, with a little bit of knowledge, you can easily learn how to purchase, care for and use hydrangeas for your next event!

Before we discuss how to care for your cut hydrangeas, it is important to understand the difference between hydrangeas collected from your backyard, and those you may purchase from an online or local retailer. Hydrangeas come in a great number of colors, shapes and sizes because there are a so many different varieties of hydrangea – and not all of them are suitable for cut floral arrangements. If you wish to use hydrangeas cut from your garden for your wedding or party centerpieces, make sure you cut a few and test them out before you commit to this as your source for your flowers. Many a bride has discovered, to her dismay, that relying on a friend or family members garden for their wedding flowers can lead to disappointing results.

Many hydrangea varieties grown in local gardens are not commercially viable cut flower varieties – they are the varieties that due well climatically in your region. Similarly, “florist” hydrangea plants found in many grocery stores may do well as a house plant, but may not be suitable for planting in your yard, or viable as a cut flower. Hydrangeas used for cut flower arrangements are varieties that have been specifically bred to hold up well to the stresses of cutting, shipping, rehydrating and event work. The best hydrangea varieties to use for cut flower arrangements come from South America. Commercially grown South American hydrangeas are a hybrid of local varieties and colors grafted onto hardier South American varieties making for a sturdier, more viable cut flower. These hydrangea varieties are literally grown to hold up better, and last longer as a cut flower. If you do choose to use hydrangeas cut from your garden, fill a clean bucket with water, preferably including flower food, and bring it with you as you cut your flowers. Cut your hydrangeas early in the morning, when temperatures are coolest, and immediately place in the bucket of water. Keep your hydrangeas in shaded areas, away from any direct sunlight.

Hydrangeas are considered a “sensitive cut flower” – but don’t let that scare you – with a little care you will find they are extremely easy to work with ,and depending on the variety, should last for at least a week, if not more. First, hydrangea begins with “hydra” – which denotes water – and hydrangeas need a lot of water. Their large flower heads have a large surface area and they expire water easily and quickly. It is imperative you hydrate your cut hydrangeas promptly and properly upon receipt. If you have purchased your hydrangeas from a reputable online wholesaler, they should arrive with a small bag of water that contains flower food attached to each stem by a rubber band. This is to ensure your hydrangeas are hydrated during the shipping process. If you have purchased your hydrangeas from a local retailer, they will not have this bag – so ensure you get your cut hydrangeas into water as soon as possible.

Once you receive your hydrangeas, proper hydration is essential to keep them looking their best. Remember, when you place your flowers in water, you are feeding both the flower head as well as the leaves. If you do not need the leaves as part of your arrangement – or the majority of them - remove as many as possible, so more water will hydrate the hydrangea bloom itself. Once you remove the leaves, cut the stem at a steep angle, taking care not to cut through any of the “knots” found along the stem. Water is absorbed through these “knots”; so, you don’t want to cut through these, if at all possible. The steeper the angle, the greater the surface area available to absorb water. Ideally, you should cut your hydrangea stems under water – if this is not possible, immediately place the newly cut stem in water, preferably containing flower food. If you leave a cut flower out of water, it may develop an air bubble or even create a seal over the bottom of the stem that will prevent it from being able to uptake water.

Hydrangeas also absorb water through their blooms. If you will be using your cut hydrangeas in an outdoor setting, you need to rehydrate any wilting hydrangea blooms, or just want to give them additional hydration, we recommend that you fill a tub or large sink with cool water, and submerge the entire hydrangea. Cut the hydrangea stem under the water and lay a light layer of paper towels on top to keep the hydrangeas and stems under the water. Keep hydrangeas submerged for 5 – 10 minutes before removing to your prepared container. While most hydrangeas can be arranged immediately, we recommend hydrating your hydrangeas for 24 hours before you begin working with them. After you cut the stems and place them in water – leave your new hydrangeas in a cool area, away from any heat or drafts, and out of direct sunlight.

When you are ready to arrange your cut hydrangeas, make sure your containers are clean. Cut hydrangeas do best in water-based containers – where they can easily drink up fresh water – and you can check water levels frequently. Keep your hydrangeas in a vase or bucket of water and recut the stems just prior to inserting into your arrangements.

Hydrangeas can be arranged in fresh flower foam, but they do not generally last as long – you will want to arrange your hydrangeas as close to your event date as possible. If you will be using flower foam, the following tips are helpful. One, ensure your foam is for “fresh flowers” (not silk or artificial flowers) and is fully hydrated before arranging your flowers. When hydrating fresh flower foam, do not push it under water – float the foam in water and allow it to absorb the water on its own. Pushing it under water will create opportunities for air pockets to develop in the foam – creating dry spots that will not allow the flowers to hydrate properly. It is harder for hydrangeas to drink water from foam, so you will want to make sure your foam is very wet while you are arranging your flowers, and check it regularly to ensure it stays wet. In order to help your hydrangeas absorb as much water as possible, recut your hydrangeas at a steep angle and then give it another cut perpendicular to the angular cut, ½” or so, vertically up the stem. Alternatively, you may use a potato peeler, and “peel” the bottom 2-3” off the stem like you are peeling a potato or carrot, and give the hydrangea a fresh, steep cut before inserting into the flower foam. Mini hydrangeas work best in foam, followed by white or natural blue hydrangeas – but, the viability of all hydrangeas is reduced when placed in fresh flower foam.

Once you have arranged your cut flowers, spray them with a finishing cut flower spray to help them retain as much moisture as possible and help lengthen their life span. If you do not have a finishing spray, or do not wish to use one, hydrangeas benefit from a regular misting of water from a spray bottle. Check your flowers’ water supply frequently – you may need to recut and change the water every day or every other day depending on your environment and/or the number of flowers in your arrangement.

Keep your hydrangea arrangements in as cool an environment as possible. Hydrangeas grow in cooler, shady areas in gardens – they do not do well in direct sunlight and wilt easily in heat. Similarly, cut hydrangeas also need cool areas out of direct sunlight. If you are planning an outdoor event in a sunny environment – hydrangeas will not do well. In these instances, you are best to use another type of flower. However, hydrangeas do very well indoors and in shady, cool, outdoor locations – especially later in the day or in the evening. The variety of hydrangea you select is also important. Mini green, blue and white hydrangeas are the hardiest cut hydrangea variety and will perform the best in warmer or brighter situations (however, all hydrangeas will wilt quickly in direct hot sun areas). White hydrangeas are the hardiest standard sized variety, but are not as sturdy as their mini sized cousins. Pink and spring colored hydrangeas are the most sensitive variety of hydrangea – generally, they do not do well in outdoor summer environments. Antique and late summer varieties are hardier and can even dry on their stems.

Hydrangeas are a wonderful cut flower – and given their large bloom, very economical. A few large hydrangea blooms can create beautiful, large centerpieces and bouquets that are easy to arrange, timeless and classic in style and can fill an event venue with fewer stems than any other cut flower. Purchase your cut wholesale hydrangeas from a reputable online wholesaler, like 48LongStems.com, or a local vendor who can ensure you the freshest flowers possible – hydrate and care for them properly – and you will be able to enjoy these beautiful flowers for a week or more.

Any additional questions? Give our flower experts at 48LongStems a call at (207)618-7618!

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