Floral Garden

For the Love of Hydrangeas

November 2, 2015

Oh My Gosh I have a blog! Please forgive my absence – I’ve been spending time with this girl who was visiting from the West coast:

We had the best week ever. We have so much fun together laughing and talking – just like my mom and I do. I am so very thankful and grateful for my daughter’s love and friendship.

Now, let’s talk about hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers.

Each plant is unique, much like a snowflake.  Plant two of the exact same variety side by side, and there will be subtle color variances and varying sizes in their blooms.  It is truly a magical flower.

{a sampling of blooms from my yard, just a few weeks past peak)

We moved into our home almost 21 years ago, and I planted Annabelle hydrangeas first. They are a magnificent hydrangea with soft, dainty white blooms that sit atop pretty bright, almost lime green leaves (which turn pale yellow/white in the fall.).

{the magnificent Annabelle}

{this bloom is almost 10 inches across}

Our plants grew over the years to about 6 feet tall (I do not cut back as we have woods in our back yard and I love a less formal look.) Sadly, deer discovered our yard and decided to feast upon the six foot tall plants, reducing them to a mere 1-2 feet.  I honestly thought they were ruined.  A good friend of mine suggested a natural way to repel deer – Irish Spring soap. So we hit up the dollar store to buy as many bars as we could and, using a grater on the largest side, grated a few bars of the minty soap and sprinkled it around the garden. Viola! No more deer and no more destruction to our amazing garden.  It’s now an annual tradition here at Canterbury Cottage. My Annabelle hydrangeas grew back strong and tall, and although they are not quite back to where they once were, they are thriving and I know they will get there.

There are so many varieties of hydrangeas and I am in no way an expert on any of them, but I can tell you what has worked for me in both planting, growing, and (my favorite) cutting for bouquets.

Growing Your Hydrangeas 

My hydrangeas grow in almost full shade to dappled sun – less than a half day of light.  I have trimmed them in the winter and can honestly tell you that they do better when you just let them grow. I cut off tons of blooms during the summer to bring inside and this aloneis just enough pruning for them.  Of course from time to time it is a good idea to cut back the dead wood as this cleans up your plants and makes room for new growth.

{a variety of colors from one plant}

I have also tried changing the color of my hydrangeas with varying techniques that I have researched online, but with no luck. So I have decided to enjoy them the way they are – each with a different shape and unique color.

{a grouping of blue “Endless Summer” by my porch – these are amazing performers}

Hydrangeas need a ton of water.  Newly planted shrubs need to be watered every day the first year. And during the hotter summer months, the more mature
plants will need a gentle mist to cool them off.

Making Great Bouquets

My hydrangea blooms last for weeks and here’s my secret: Whether you cut them from the garden or buy them at the store – bring them in and immediately fill up a large bucket with very hot tap water – the hottest you can get.  Cut an inch from the stem of each hydrangea and submerge them into the hot water for a minimum of 20 minutes. It is even OK to leave them there until you are ready to make your arrangements. Hydrangeas have sap in their stems which, when cut, will seep out and close off their ability to absorb water.  Soaking them in the hot tap water draws out all the sap and doubles the life of the blooms.


{past their peak bloom – these were originally blue and have turned
into a gorgeous fall bouquet}

Check your water levels on the bouquets daily as hydrangeas absorb a very large amount of water.  Of your blooms start to droop, cut another inch off and add new water.
You can even submerge an entire bloom in water to revive it. Water is the hydrangeas best friend, and the key to it lasting a very long time.

A tried and true way to make your hydrangea arrangements look fuller is to wire two stems together.  The blooms are so heavy, that when placed in a large-mouthed container they will flop over. Wiring them together with floral wire strengthens the blooms and they are much better able to stand up on their on,  No flopping makes larger, more lush arrangements.

{all you need is wire cutters and florist wire}


{be gentle, the stems are very easy to break close to the bloom}

A few different varieties of hydrangea plants equates to an amazing amount of color and blooms – and enables you to make equally amazing and creative bouquets from spring until first frost.

{these were purchased at Wegmans and lasted almost three weeks
by soaking in hot water}

Would love to see your hydrangea bouquets and to hear your tips and tricks for growing them and making fabulous arrangements.



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  • Reply NanaDiana November 3, 2015 at 2:33 am

    First off, Gay, your daughter is beautiful! Like mother like daughter. I am so glad you had a good time together.

    As a family we have a deep connection to the AnnaBelle hydrangeas. Several years ago we lost a little grand baby named AnnaBella. My daughter bought every one in our immediate family an Annabelle hydrangea to remember her with. So, though we have moved 3 times since that happened we have dug our hydrangea up and moved it along with us where it has continued to thrive. I always think it is a promise from God that she lives on…..

    Blessings to you -this was a wonderful post. I had read that about the Irish Spring soap but didn't know if it really worked. Glad to know it does! xo Diana

  • Reply Junkchiccottage November 3, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Good Morning my friend. Great tips on hydrangea's. One of my favorites. So happy that you had a great time with your sweet and beautiful daughter. That is what makes life grand. Have a great new week ahead.

  • Reply lala November 3, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful tips. I can't believe you can get blooms to last three weeks – I can't even get three days! Will definitely try the hot water tip, haven't heard of that one before.

  • Reply Beth Riddle November 9, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Hi Gay!
    I know how precious it is to have one-on-one time with your daughter when they come home. Glad you got that time. I love your article on hydrangeas. Thank you for the tip about Irish Spring soap. The deer have eaten most of my pansies that I planted in containers in the back. I am buying Irish Spring soap next time I'm at the store.

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