September 25, 2006. As you scramble to enjoy as many blossoms as possible before frost finishes them off, don’t pass by late blooming hydrangea. I find these some of the easiest blossoms to save. Mind you I only have one hydrangea paniculata tree (the peegee type) and one macrophylla ‘Bailmer’ (an endless summer variety) in bloom right now, but I cut blossoms off of both, with stems as long as makes sense for each blossom. I arrange each in a vase arrangement, fill the vase with water, and walk away. No more water, no more fuss. The blossoms simply dry in the indoor air … and they hold most of their color. This technique works when you wait until after the blossoms begin to turn either from white to pinkish or blue to purple/green. It does not work with freshly opened hydrangea blossoms.
Right now, there are vases of hydrangea blossoms in many rooms of my house. There’s even a large stoneware jar filled with huge paniculata blossoms adorning a front porch table. After other outside pre-frost chores are done, I’ll pick off any browned petals, dump the water, and keep many arrangements through fall. I’ll save other dried hydrangea blossoms for seasonal displays through winter (more on these uses as the holidays approach).
If you don’t have a hydrangea paniculata tree , or the oak-leaf quercifolia shrub from which to pick, now is a good time to visit the local nursery to find one for early fall planting. Just protect small trees/shrubs from browsing deer. I used to surround mine paniculata tree with 4 foot tall chicken wire held upright with metal fence posts, but once the bulk of it grew taller than local deer, I was able to stop this practice. Now the deer only browse on the lower branches and blooms, but there are still plenty for me to enjoy as well. And, using the technique listed here, I’m able to enjoy hydrangea blossoms year round.