There are two types of people in this world that I am suspicious of. People who wearing black hoodies while breaking into cars and people who don’t like flowers.

People who like the taste of Tonic Water are also on my watch list.

There aren’t many rooms that don’t look better with some sort of flower or at least plant in them.  It adds life to a room. A living and breathing thing.  Like a decorating pet.



One of my favourite flowers has always been the hydrangea because a) it’s really great looking and b) just a few flowers fill up a LOT of space.  Roses are great and all but you need about three billion of them to make a vase look full even if you add in filler.

Hydrangeas are just charming.

They’re also evil, neurotic, easily offended and have an astonishing ability to play dead.  They’re the opossum of the flower world.

You know it. You’ve been there.  You’re in the grocery store or florist and you see the hydrangeas all big, and white and huge and bouncy like a rare albino afro.  You know you shouldn’t go for the afro. It’s too much work.  It’ll be a mess within a day.

But you give in.  You relent.  You buy the big white afro flower.




And within one day it’s a goner.

For years I avoided buying my favourite flower because of this but about a decade ago I learned a trick that will bring back even the most wilted of hydrangeas.

Boiling.  Hot. Water.

Just recut the end of the hydrangea, stick it in a cup of boiling water, and let it sit in that cup overnight (or until the water cools).  Within a few hours you’ll notice it starting to perk up and within 5 hours it’ll be back to its old bouncy self.

This method always works.  100% of the time this method works.  Always.  The only time it wouldn’t work is if your hydrangea has already lived out its full life and isn’t just playing dead, but actually is dead.

So when  reader emailed me and told me she had the same luck with using Alum to revive her hydrangeas I had to try it out.

One sure fire remedy is good.  Two is even better.

So when the spring flowers I bought started to keel over I whipped out the Alum and gave it a shot.




Just recut the hydrangea stem (preferably under water) and dip it in about 1/2″ of alum.  Then stick the flower straight back in the vase.  No waiting, no screwing around, no nothin’.

Take a look at the difference.  This is what my hydrangea looked 3 hours after using the Alum treatment.


Yes indeed, it was twice as wilted as it was before.

I’ve read that other people have really good luck using this Alum method too, but I tried it three times and it didn’t work for me.

I’m sure it does work for some people some of the time, but the boiling hot water method works always.  Always.




So I took my double wilted hydrangeas and did what I always do.

  1. Recut the stems.
  2. Put them in a glass filled with boiling (not just hot) water.
  3. Protected the blooms from the steam by wrapping them in a paper towel.
  4. Leave them alone for several hours.




And back they came, as perfect as they were before the wilting.

You can see a couple of areas on the leaves and stem where it got scorched by the steam but it’s just cosmetic, the flower was protected and the flower did just fine.



I first wrote about this tip years ago, but with wedding season coming up I thought it was a good idea to mention it again.  I’ve had more than a dozen emails over the years from brides, wedding planners and frantic family members thanking me for saving their wedding with this tip.

The hot water method will only save a wedding.  Not a marriage.  But you can decrease your chances of a bad marriage by asking 3 important questions before you get hitched.

  1. Do you drink Tonic Water?
  2. Do you like flowers?
  3. Do you own a black hoodie?




  1. Melissa R. says:

    I thought this was so well written and funny…but actually had something that was useful. I tried your 100% always works, never fails remedy for wilted and sad hydrangeas and I have to tell you, Ms. Karen. You were absolutely right! It worked and I am doing the happy dance as I type this.

    I guess I better settle down…lol Anyway, thank you sincerely for posting this. It saved my arrangement and it now looks fresh and lovely. I might even say it looks better than when I first got them. Kudos to you.

    • Karen says:

      That’s great Melissa! I know I’m taking a chance by saying it works 100% of the time, lol. But it really does, unless the hydrangea really has just reached the end of its life. :) ~ karen!

  2. andrew karr says:

    Have hydrangeas growing and I believe they like acidic soil (Coffee grounds, egg shells? oh, they are breakfast eaters) I really like them and I am sad when they do not bring forth lots of beautiful flowers. (My MN Poppies are already showing-what a mild winter)
    Anyways a niece did a family experiment on who likes tonic and it is hereditary, if you do not like tonic, you probs do not like grapefruit either. That is NOT a reason for getting on my No-fly list.

  3. Kim says:

    Do you know why the hot water works?

  4. Robin says:

    LoVe the 3 Q’s …will have to recommend this to my younger, marriable-type friends!


    I love the arrangement on the counter. Any idea where I could buy a pitchur like that?


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