13 October 2011

DIY (fail): hydrangea drying

I adore hydrangeas. They are essentially big puffballs of petals, how could I not? I even carried a GIANT hydrangea petal puffball as my wedding bouquet.

I then ruined that wedding bouquet by hanging it upside down in my closet and jetting off to Italy for over two weeks, but... ehh. I didn’t really care about preserving my wedding bouquet anyway. Nevertheless it was amazing how that massive puffball could turn into literally a three-inch clump of dried petals. So, yeah. That’s how not to dry hydrangeas.

Later I found this post that said to dry hydrangeas nicely, all you have to do is... give them water. The end. Seriously, that’s it – clip them, give them water, wait.

Well! I can do that! I intended to do that with blooms from my hydrangea bush in my front yard, but I didn’t get around to it this summer. So when Mr. P gave me this bouquet recently (as originally seen here):

I decided to give it a try! I clipped their stems down and put them in water in plastic cocktail cups:

Admittedly, I waited until two of the three blooms were on their way out...

...which perhaps should have been a sign, because they were already in water, in a vase, before I clipped them and transferred them into cups. But I’m a scientist, and I’ve learned never to throw out an experiment until you are absolutely certain it didn’t work.

And at first it looked promising! See this sad bloom on the first day:

The next day it started to perk up! I didn’t rearrange it – it literally moved itself as it drank up the water. It’s still pathetic, sure, but you can tell some of the little stems are waking up and streeeetching! That’s when I thought this might actually work!

But my enthusiasm was sort-lived. Not unlike when I decide to exercise for a week and feel like I'm improving before quitting completely, a few days later my experiment looked like this:

Again, as a scientist who goes down with the ship of experiments furiously bailing water, I tried trimming a bit off the stems every day, just in case that helped them drink up the water (it helped the sad one perk up, right?). But... nope! Even the big, happy, puffy one was showing signs of giving up:

And a few days later it, too, flopped over and turned brown. The entire time there was water in the cups, so hey! Guess what! That too-easy-to-work trick is totally too easy to work.

For additional troubleshooting, I didn’t remove the leaves at first; I waited a day, but I don’t think that’s why it failed. There’s some commenters in the source post also saying that it didn’t work for them either, but the author of the post is mum, and the only helpful tip from another commenter claims that glycerol might help. I could try that, but since I’m going to throw out any dried flowers when we move anyway, I don’t want to put a ton of effort into perfecting the art of flower-drying just yet.

Still, I’m bummed that the simple solution was a big fat fail. Any successful hydrangea-dryers out there?


Shanna said...

I;m not sure about hydrangeas, but I've dried flowers [in years past] using a tub of silicone drying powder. In fact, I've still got that stuff in a large tin in my dining room. You bury the blooms in the powder for a period of time and it causes them to 'dry'. That doesn't sound very 'green', does it?

Tina said...

I have dried hydrangeas (in a pitcher on top of the den bookcase) that I brought home from Mrs. Cantrell's yard years ago - yeah, they're a little dusty,too.;-) They were never put into water at all. She cut them for me, I put them in the empty pitcher (with the intent to see if they would dry), and that's where they've been ever since. Of course it's dark and airy (from the ceiling fan) up there - maybe that had something to do with it... and they were blue, and now they're yellowish, but they're still poofy... they look like dried hydrangeas are suppose to look.
Your breakfast table gets sunlight (therefore warmish) during the day - I bet that did them in - and your closet is dark, but no air circulates in there very well... and both sets had been in water after cutting? Just trying to identify some possible negative variables here...

Tina said...

Oh, one more thing now that I read the post - I bet they might've done better just left alone in the original arrangement... from Donna, one of my favorite bloggers commented on the post source:
Funky Junk Interiors said...

LOL!! Know what's so incredibly funny? I always display my hydrangeas with water at first but FORGET about them. And yeah, they always dried and I always felt, "Man, they still look good so I'm not throwing them out!"

Little did I know that by being lazy, I actually did a good thing. Awesome. :) GREAT tip!

If Donna says it, I'd go with it. She's the woMAN.