Hydrangea macrophylla, also known as big leaf or Mophead hydrangea, is the most popular hydrangea variety for floral arrangements because of its size, color and beauty. But hydrangeas have a reputation for wilting and drooping soon after they are cut and put into an arrangement. Also, due to the weight of the Hydrangea macrophylla flower head, if you envision a flower arrangement where your Hydrangea macrophylla will need to be in a specific place, it can be difficult to secure it without knowing the tricks and techniques used by professional florists.
Prepare Your Hydrangea Cutting
If you are cutting hydrangeas from your garden for your floral arrangement, cut them in the early morning or late evening, but not during the heat of the day, and only when the flowers in the flower head all have opened. Cutting flowers when the temperature is cooler means the flower stem will be fully hydrated with water. This is particularly important with hydrangeas because they require a lot of water and the lack of adequate water to the stem is often why the cut hydrangea wilts so fast.
Submerge the entire flower head of your cut hydrangea into a container of room-temperature water for one to two minutes before you are ready to make your flower arrangement. Although this might seem strange, by doing this first with your cut hydrangeas you will greatly extend their vase life. This also refreshes hydrangeas that you bought that may look less than fresh. After your hydrangea heads are taken out of the water and the water gently shaken off, use a sharp knife to recut one to two inches off the end of the stem. The cut needs to be at a 45-degree angle to increase the ability of the stem to take up water. After you have made the 45-degree cut, slit the stem one to two inches up. This will open up the stem even more and allow the maximum amount of water to enter.
Using Tape Grinds or Floral Foam
Unless your flower arrangement is comprised of only hydrangea stems, you will want to stabilize the placement of your hydrangea within your arrangement. This can be accomplished with one of two techniques. The first, and most common, is to make a grind with tape over the top of your vase to support the hydrangea stem and keep it in place. Place strips of cellophane tape in a loose weave design across the top of your vase. If you are only going to use one hydrangea stem in your arrangement, you only need to use four strips of tape. More stems means more crisscross areas of tape to support each stem. After the grind is made, simply insert the hydrangea stem into the "hole" you made with the tape, and it will stay exactly where you want.
Floral foam is not as popular for holding hydrangea stems in place in a flower arrangement because it is believed that the foam cannot provide adequate water to the stem. By pre-soaking the foam in water, or water with floral preservative added, it will provide enough water for your hydrangea arrangement. It also helps if you change the water in your floral arrangement with floral foam everyday, so the flowers always are in clean, fresh water.
Make It Interesting
Because of its size, Hydrangea macrophylla flower heads in a floral arrangement tend to be the focal point, with smaller blooms complimenting it. But hydrangeas can also be more subtle within an arrangement, too. In fact, your Hydrangea macrophylla can make an interesting alternative to the general greenery filler often used in flower arrangements. Place your hydrangea close to the rim of your vase, then thread longer-stemmed flowers, like tulips or daisies, through the hydrangea and into the vase, so they "grow'"out of the hydrangea.
Make your flower arrangement that has Hydrangea macrophylla in it interesting by including a variety of different flowers and different textures. Lilies, roses, baby's breath and daisies all compliment a Hydrangea macrophylla nicely.