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Episode 122: Imelda Ramos                                  

Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: No. 67

The Question:

Every time I use hydrangeas, it’s a battle to keep them from wilting! How do you condition your hydrangeas? Do you have problems with them wilting during an event?

Holly Heider Chapple Flowers | Genevieve Leiper Photography

Holly Heider Chapple Flowers | Genevieve Leiper Photography

The Answers:

I must say I never find hydrangeas too difficult to work with.  I ‘feel’ for good solid petals when buying. When picking from my garden I always pick when mature, cut stems, remove leaves & pop into water.  I even leave them in the vase to dry out completely and use in winter wreaths  & decorations. My Christmas tree always has dried lightly sprayed with glitter hydrangea heads thrown at it.

Jo Flowers Jo Flowers

Jo Rodwell (Jo Flowers)


I hear this from designers all the time, but we have been very fortunate with our hydrangea. We typically buy South American hydrangea or we use local hydrangea because they are more hardy than Dutch hydrangea and also less costly. All hydrangea stems are cut and Quick Dipped when they arrive in the studio. I use warm water with a flower preservative for conditioning. All designs get sprayed with Crowing Glory after being created and before they go out on the job. We also carry additional Crowning Glory with us to the wedding to spray the designs one last time before we go if we are working at an outdoor venue.

If hydrangea arrives at your studio completely limp you should put the hydrangea flower heads down into buckets of warm water allowing the hydrangea to rehydrate from the flower head. Hydrangeas do drink through the flower head as well as the stem. You should allow them to soak for a few minutes. Then cut the stems as usual and Quick Dip to see if they rehydrate. Leave the hydrangea in a bucket of preservative out of the cooler while the heads dry. All hydrangea heads need to be completely dry before you them put in a cooler or you will create an opportunity for mold. I would also have to say any hydrangea that comes to my studio completely limp makes me skeptical and concerned that it will go flat again. Most product arrives to us firm and seemingly perfect.

Also, just a fun note: most antiqued hydrangea is hardier and less likely to wilt.

Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)


I only use local hydrangeas, which start blooming in June – I always quick dip them. The more mature the flowers are, the less likely that they will wilt. In the fall, when the blossoms have ‘hardened off’  they also can be used in corsages and boutonnières.

Francoise Weeks (Francoise Weeks)


In my experience as a grower, getting hydrangeas to last is all about the proper stage of harvest. Hydrangeas need to be really mature and a bit papery before they are harvested, otherwise they will wilt, no matter how much you fuss with them. When harvested at the proper stage, we simply cut to split the stems up the center about an inch and store in deep cold water until ready to use. I’ve definitely heard alum helps with hydration and would consider using that if we needed.

Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)


You need to choose them carefully. They must feel like paper under your fingers when you buy them (if they are too soft, chances are high that they will die before D-day). They are really tough to keep in oasis foam because they have trouble drinking from it. If you really must use oasis for your design, make sure the stem is cut at a sharp angle and that you do not pull at all on the stem after pushing it in. Here I tend to use less and less oasis anyway. Designing in water makes it much easier to keep them in good shape.

Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)


I have a  love-hate relationship with hydrangea! Sometimes they hold up beautifully and other times they seem to collapse at just the wrong moment. I notice that certain varieties aren’t as hardy as others so I try to avoid some of the more delicate ones. I always have extra on hand to poke in at the last minute and I always spritz the hydrangea on location with water to give it one last boost of hydration before the event starts. I rarely use them in bouquets unless a client requests them, but when I do I tuck them in deeper than other flowers in case they do begin to wilt. The other flowers act as a crutch.

Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush)


I have found hydrangea much more reliable in recent years than say 10 years ago. I use hydrangea from two sources: Columbia and Holland. I use a lot of the ivory hydrangea from Columbia for many reasons – the quality is always very  good, they are available all year round, the price is consistent all year round and for wedding work I actually prefer the softer colour in comparison to the white Dutch variety.  They tend to be very reliable and never wilt. Last year, I used hundreds of stems of them in oasis designs for a destination wedding in Tuscany and even the next day they were still in perfect condition despite the heat.

Mood Flowers

For brighter colours I use Dutch grown. The price is more expensive but the variety and strength of colour makes up for that. These can be a little more temperamental so I give them a sharp cut then put them into deep buckets of water. I keep an eye on them on the day or two before a wedding and will recut and Quickdip if they start to fade. For wedding work for large urn type designs in floral foam, I will put all the other flowers and foliage into the design the evening before only adding the hydrangea an hour or so before the ceremony time.

Nick Priestly | Mood Flowers

Nick Priestly (Mood Flowers)



  1. Amy Post says:

    We give ours a fresh cut and dip the ends in alum, then place in floral solution in cold water. Works brilliantly!


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