The Occasions Lady and Scalded Hydrangeas

Brittney Osborn


The Occasions Lady and Scalded Hydrangeas

Each year around Mother’s Day I fall in love with hydrangeas all over again. Stores and nurseries are typically stocked with hydrangeas this time of year, and the bright pink and blue blooms always draw me to them.

One of my favorite Mother’s Day gifts is a hydrangea that I received from my family several years ago. Rodney planted it beside our house, where it continues to grow fuller each year. I love the beautiful blue blooms that it produces during the spring and summer and have been amazed at how long some of the blooms last from cuttings.

Now that all of the kids are grown, I enjoy seeing them nurture plants, whether it is to spruce up their yard, deck, patio or house. There were times when I was a single mom that the kids would help me in the yard. Like me when I was their age, I don’t think they enjoyed one minute of it, but they all helped in some way. Adam and Sophie would help pull weeds or plant flowers, but Emma often lacked focus on the gardening task at hand. After watching her sing, dance and cheer around the backyard while the rest of us worked in the heat, I finally decided we would be best served if she would go inside and make tea.

Now that she is married and living in Little Rock, I’m not so sure that was the best decision.

Last year, Emma also fell in love with hydrangeas and purchased two plants with beautiful blue blooms for their condo. If either Ryan or Emma have a green thumb, I’m pretty sure it’s not Emma.

While Ryan was out of town, Emma realized that the hydrangeas had not been watered and one of the plants was looking sad and droopy. She remembered seeing a video about using hot water to perk up hydrangea blooms and decided to give it a try. So, she used her electric kettle to get the water boiling hot and then poured it on her sickly hydrangea and her healthy hydrangea, both sitting in pots on the front porch. When she woke up the following day, both hydrangeas were toast.

Lesson learned. In hindsight, Emma says she now realizes that the trick for perking up hydrangea blooms is for cuttings that have been placed in a vase. Rather than pour boiling water on potted plants, you are supposed to re-cut the stems on a 45-degree angle, make a vertical slit in the incision and hold the stem upright in the boiling water for approximately 60 seconds. After placing the hydrangeas back in your floral arrangement, they should revive themselves in an hour or so.

By the time she scalded her hydrangeas last summer, there were no more to be found. So, as a consolation, she bought herself a Ficus tree, which has apparently seen better days.

“It appears to have some sort of severe infection, so I don’t think it’s going to make it either, but I’ve not poured any hot water on it,” she told me recently.

Not to be deterred, she bought two new hydrangeas this spring, but they are pink and she wants them to be blue. I told her she could change the color of the blooms by making the soil more acidic with something like coffee grounds or apple cider vinegar. Then, on second thought, I suggested she purchase a commercial, prepackaged soil acidifier to do the trick.

“Do you think I can without murdering them?” she asked in her most sincere voice.

I think anything is possible, but when all else fails, remember that not everyone has a green thumb. Some of us are blessed with the ability to sing, dance, cheer on others – and make tea.

 Mama tried.



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