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Drying Hydrangea Flowers to Use In Autumn Wreaths

Indoor Autumn Wreaths can add a splash of colour to home décor. Mix the purple hues of the flowers with autumn leaves and berries to create a focal point.

Step-by-Step: Drying Hydrangea Flowers

By drying the blooms, you can enjoy their classic beauty year-round. Two main methods are used to dry hydrangea flowers: vase drying and silica drying. Vase drying is easier and cheaper, while silica drying produces more vibrant colour. Let’s keep things simple and use the vase-drying method, which produces blossoms in vintage hues.

1. Timing is Everything

Knowing when to cut hydrangea blooms for drying is the secret to success. While you may be tempted to snip blossoms right at peak colour, it is important to allow flowers to begin drying on the plant. After the blooms have graced your garden for several weeks the petals will start to feel papery and shift in colour. When you see the colours shift and petals lose their suppleness, it is time to grab the pruners.

2. Making the Cut

Cut stems in the morning after the dew has dried from the petals. Using sharp shears or pruners cut stems at an angle, allowing for 12 to 18 inches of stem. Strip the leaves and place cuttings into a bucket of water. Pick the best flowers to dry and leave the rest to enjoy in the garden.​

3. Arrange Hydrangeas in Vases of Water

It may seem counterproductive, but drying hydrangeas in vases of water helps preserve their colour. Place cuttings in vases or other clear containers with about 1” of water. Do not overcrowd the vases. Each bloom needs good air circulation to dry and room to maintain an open form.

4. Allow to Dry

Place containers throughout your home where you can enjoy them as they dry. Keep the flowers out of direct sunlight. Allow the water to evaporate naturally from the containers as the flowers dry. Blooms may take two or more weeks to dry. The dried blossoms are ready for use when the petals feel stiff and the stem snaps easily. Dried hydrangeas look lovely mixed into dried wreaths.

Step-by-Step: Making An Autumn Wreath

Wreath bases are readily available in craft shops and online, but you can make your own. You don’t have to stick to a round wreath base either – make your wreath square, heart-shaped or star-shaped if you prefer. You’ll also need florists wire, ribbon, glue (a hot glue gun is very handy for all sorts of craft projects) and decorations of your choice, such as berries, leaves and pine cones.

Making Your Wreath – 3 options

A cardboard wreath base is very easy to make. Find some sturdy cardboard (great use for those online delivery boxes!) Draw two concentric circles (i.e. one smaller circle inside a bigger one) to form the base, then cut it out. Wrap it in ribbon or hessian, and it’s ready to decorate.

Alternatively, shrubs like willow or dogwood have long whippy stems that make superb wreaths. Cut several long stems and twist them to form a strand, then bend this into a circle to create a wreath base.

Or use wire to create a wreath base in whatever shape you prefer – a circle, a heart, a star or whatever takes your fancy. If you don’t have any wire in the DIY cupboard, why not unwind an old wire coat hanger and repurpose it?

Step-by-Step: Decorating Your Autumn Wreath

When decorating your autumn wreath, start with the bigger items such as your dried hydrangeas and pinecones, using the florist’s wire to attach them securely to the wreath base. Next, fill in the gaps with foliage and berries, using glue or wire to attach them. You can buy sprays of artificial berries and autumn leaves, but it’s also fun to gather your own from your garden. Here are a few ideas for natural autumn wreath decorations:

• Pinecones are plentiful at this time of year. To clean them up ready for use, soak them for 30 minutes in a solution of 2 parts warm water to 1 part white vinegar, then let them air-dry for 2-3 days or bake them in an oven for approximately 1.5 hrs at 95°C, checking regularly to prevent them burning.

• Conkers (horse chestnuts) look great threaded on wire or glued onto a wreath base. Soak them in vinegar or paint them with nail varnish before using them to make them last longer on your wreath.

Bright autumn leaves add the perfect seasonal touch to your wreath. Collect fallen leaves, place them between sheets of paper and press them under a couple of heavy books for a day or two, then spray them with hairspray to preserve them.

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