Garden // My Top Tips for Growing and Drying Hydrangeas {even in pots}

November 23, 2017

If you know anything about me at all, it's probably that I'm one of the world's biggest hydrangea fans. My Grandma jokes that every time she comes round, I've bought another one and potted it up in the garden! Whether it's buying a bunch of hydrangeas from the flower market or filling my garden with them, you may say that I have a bit of a thing for hydrangeas. It's funny because they were out of fashion for so long, especially around my Grandma's era which I think is why she's so surprised that I love them so much. But I can't imagine a garden without them and they feel so French farmhouse. I get a lot of questions about how to grow them but I actually find them one of the easiest, and lowest maintenance plants to keep {apart from the watering} so I thought I'd give you some of my top tips for everything hydrangea. From where to buy, to planting them, to keeping them alive, tips for keeping them in vases and drying them. 

B U Y I N G  H Y D R A N G E A S {for your garden} //

  • Hydrangeas can be really expensive yet they need not be. I've never paid more than £13 for one, and that's my very biggest prized Annabelle but for the smaller hydrangeas they've all been just £5 each. I tend to mainly buy them when they're reduced and looking dead in the winter from garden centres, they'll come back in the Spring and are often quite established plants. Look for garden sales/end of season reductions.
  • I've also bought lots from Columbia Road flower market who tend to sell them for between £5/8 and they're still going strong years later. 
  • There are so many different types, all varying in size, colour and shape. Either pick a special variety or just go with a real mix. I tend to look for the classic dusky pink range as well as some specials like Limelight or Annabelle with the huge round heads. 

P L A N T I N G //

  • You can plant hydrangeas all year round. And I've never bothered with any special soil, just regular garden compost. The key is to think about where they'll be positioned. 
  • Hydrangeas thrive with morning sun and afternoon shade, ideally. That being said I do have some that are in sun in the afternoon because it's a spot where I can enjoy looking at them the most and whilst they do wilt on hot days, if you make sure they're well watered then they should be ok.
  • But as a general rule they do prefer shade, and if you think about where they're grown in the wild they're normally in woodlands with dappled light so don't be afraid if you don't have much sun at all.
  • You can plant in the ground or in pots as long as they're big enough/deep enough for the roots to spread enough and keep hydrated.
  • Water, water, water. The word 'hyd' is the same as hydrate and there's nothing hydrangeas love more than a good drink. In the summer you really need to try and water them everyday if they're in pots. Or at least give a really good soak every other day.
  • If we're going on holiday in the summer, even if we have people coming in to water, I try and drag my hydrangeas into the shade as much as possible and give a really big drink before we go.
  • I've written this post about planting in galvanised containers before, you'll need to drill drainage holes in the bottom as whilst they are thirsty, you don't want them sitting in water.
  • You can change the colour of most hydrangeas depending on the soil acidity. You know how in some areas most hydrangeas are bright blue whereas in others they're pink? It's because of the soil. You can add iron filings in to pots to try and keep yours blue if you're aiming for that colour. I tend to keep most of mine pink and white.

P R U N I N G //
  • Aside from the watering, once hydrangeas are planted then there's really not much you need to do to care for them year round. 
  • They have different stages, in the winter they'll die right back to their twig/branches.
  • In the Spring they'll bud up and start producing leaves and buds. At this stage you can cut back any old wood ABOVE the new growth to tidy it up and encourage growing. I tend to cut about 2/3 back on each plant, just leaving the new growth below.
  • As summer goes on, around June/July time the flowers will start to form and then in late summer they'll all be in bloom.
  • In late summer the flowers really come into their own and you can cut some for vases but I find they don't dry very well at this stage. They might last a few days in water but then wilt fairly fast.
  • As they go into autumn the flowers start to naturally dry out and around October time is the perfect time for picking whilst they still have some colour before they go too crispy.
  • I try to leave most of the flowers on my plants so that they protect the buds over winter from any harsh frosts. But if your plants are in a sheltered position you can cut some to bring inside and dry.

// D R Y I N G  H Y D R A N G E A S 

  • I've written this post before about drying hydrangeas. There are a number of different methods and not all hydrangeas will behave the same so it's a bit of trial and error
  • The fail safe way though is to make sure the hydrangeas are already mostly dry on the plant itself before cutting
  • Then either put in a vase with a little bit of water leaving in an airy place until they've dried out fully
  • Or hang them upside down, again in an airy place away from any damp, until they're fully dry
  • Then they'll last for years!

// C U T  B L O O M S 
  • When buying cut hydrangeas, or cutting them from your garden, they'll last so much longer in a vase if you cut up the stems before putting in water. Cut an inch or so off but also cut up/split the stem.
  • If your hydrangeas are drooping too soon, fill a sink/bath with water and submerge them in there overnight literally like you're drowning them in a bath. Put into a vase and they'll come right back to life!
  • You can also try the boiling water method if they're really thirsty where you dip the stems into boiling water for a minute or so which loosens all the sap and makes them able to suck up the water they want to drink. Plunge into cold water after doing this.

Are you a hydrangea lover?

R <3 xx 

You Might Also Like


  1. Love this post! Hydrangeas are my all time favourite. My gran had them leading up her garden path when I was a child. I too dry them out and have them alround the house. I find that the blue and white ones are more delicate than the deep pink heads and as a result they don't dry out very well. Love all your potted hydrangeas outside your summer house :)

    All things nice...


@rvk_loves on Instagram