Title image of super closup of holly hocks and Hydrangeas in a Vintage Tool Box

How to Prepare Hollyhocks to be Long-Lasting Cut Flowers



Do you have beautiful hollyhocks in your garden that you’d love to bring inside to enjoy?

Maybe add to a flower arrangement to take to a friend?

Or maybe enjoy in a vase by by your kitchen sink catching the morning rays of sunshine?

side view of vintage wood toolkit filled with Hydrangeas and tall, blooming Hollyhocks


Or combined with hydrangeas in an old wooden toolbox filled with mason jars? (that’s rather specific, isn’t it?)



But not hollyhocks, right? They don’t make good cut flowers! Yes, that’s what I thought, too.

But we are in luck! With a bit of digging around, I discovered that by searing the cut ends, you can get 5 days of vase life from them and you can repeat the cut and sear one or two more times. Some of those beautiful blooms can last 10 – 15 days!!!

Sear? I know you think I’m crazy. But I was so intrigued by this idea and my poor holly hock was broken off by a microburst, so I had nothing to lose by trying.


And look! It Worked!!!!

Day 1 (on the left): The stalk had been broken off by a storm. And almost 24 hours later, I was finally able to tend to them and hope to get at least some enjoyment out of them. They are all weepy, droopy and bent over. Lots of buds with just a few blooms. Honestly, I really didn’t hold out much hope. But then . . . .

Day 4 (on the right): It’s amazing. They like rose from the dead — okay, from the brink of death.

The next day, they still looked good, but since I was heading out of town for a week, I performed the searing again. My husband reports, they looked great for another 4 or 5 days. But, sadly, I have no documentation of that. I returned on day 17 and it was too late to try a third sear.

But I can share that this process works! And I will be doing this again and again — at least when I can beat the deer to my new blooms


Lovely 6-ft tall stalk of Hollyhocks beside an ornate rusted metal

Hollyhocks can become great cut flowers with a bit of effort on your part — and it’s a strangely satisfying effort.


Here’s How I Prepped my Hollyhocks as Cut Flowers



Row of stems of Hollyhocks cut from a storm broken stalk laid out on a quartz countertop

1) Cut at an Angle as Usual

Don’t cut them too long. This works best with stems that are 18 – 24 inches. Not your 3-footers!

Remove the lower leaves that would touch the water in your vase.



2) Do NOT Put Them in Water Right Away

We want the stems dry to sear them. These stalky, thick stems will release a “healing” sap that actually prevents them taking up water and this is why they wilt so quickly if you cut and put them in water.



Two hands holding two stems of holly hocks in a flame in a stainless steel sink

3) Sear the Stem Ends

Yes you read that right!

To use hollyhocks in a flower arrangement, you want to sear the end. This prevents the thick woody stalk from producing the sap that seals the end so that they can’t take up water and will then wilt very quickly,

You need an open flame. A grill or a camp stove works. I used a can of Real Flame — essentially a large Sterno.

Of course, use CAUTION!

It was windy, so I set mine in a holder in our utility room sink.

And not knowing what to expect, I even had a fire extinguisher at hand. However, this was so much easier than I anticipated.



line of stems all with charred tips laid out on a quartz countertop

And that is it!. You want the end charred, not burnt to ashes.


 A quick pause to ask: Are you enjoying this blog post? If so, please subscribe so you won’t miss out:

Thanks bunches! Now back to the post.

Now Arrange Your Hollyhocks


There are soooo many ways to arrange these long-lasting flowers.

Here I went the simple, casual route.

I filled a vintage wood toolbox with Ball jars to hold all the Phantom Hydrangea blooms that were also struggling after the crazy storm.

Here’s a short — less than 5 minute — video of how I did it. BONUS: it includes my 5 favorite flower arranging tips. Perfect for novices.

Closeup of an arrangement of hollhock cut flowers and hydrangeas in an old wood toolbox with a title; Hollyhocks & Hydrangeas: + my Five Favorite Flower Arranging Tips


And while we are talking about arranging cut flowers from your garden, check out this how-to. Charming fresh flowers in under 10 minutes!


Just because I can’t get over it, let’s look again at the Hollyhocks pre-searing:

Row of stems of Hollyhocks cut from a storm broken stalk laid out on a quartz countertop

Look at those wilting leaves and all those buds!


And then on the fourth day, look at them.


Going strong. The bent over stems are so much more upright and the buds are opening and the leaves are nourished.

Granted, it’s a crazy method. But it sure did work! If you’ve ever tried to bring Hollyhocks in as cut flowers you know why I’m so excited. Usually they just wilt within two days. Those thick stems don’t take up the water they need.




Because you might be in the middle of something else:

Pin this to your Flowers board

Or to your Flower Arranging board

or your Cut Flowers board

Or your Garden board

Or your “I Need to Know This” board


Pin showing wilted Hollyhocks in the arrangement with then a picture of them revived with the title

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!


Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane


  1. Jennifer Carr

    Do you know any other flowers that would benefit from this treatment?

    • Diane

      I don’t right off, but I planning on doing a bit of research. If you come up with any, please let me know. I really just tried it out of desperation and was amazed.

      • Linda

        How long do they need to dry before you sear them?

        • Diane

          Not at all. You just don’t want to put them into water as soon as you cut the end like you do with most flowers. As soon as you cut them, you can start to sear them. Just don’t put them in water between cutting and searing.

          Thanks for asking! Please don’t hesitate with any additional questions!

    • Karin

      Hydrangeas: boil 1.5 to 2 inches of vinegar in a small pot. Hold the hydrangea stems in the simmering vinegar for 30 seconds. Angle the stems so that the steam doesn’t damage the flower

  2. Janet Page

    hydrangeas, clematis, helleborus, poppies, hydrangeas

  3. Barbara Fernie

    This is a stupid question

    After searing holly hocks. Do you put them in water?

    • Diane

      No stupid questions! Didn’t we all learn that in 3rd grade?

      I never made that clear, did I? Yes.They need the water. The searing prevents the stems from making the sap they usually makes that prevents them from being able to take in water. Once they are seared, they can continue to take in water and stay fresh.

  4. Marti Nordby

    Do you put them in cool or warm water after searing them. Thank you for the information.

    • Diane

      Hi Marti, good question! I use room temp, leaning towards cool water. Nothing that will shock them, so not cold cold and not warm or hot. Just like with all other cut flowers, I try to change the water daily and I will recut and sear again when they start looking a bit limp. They’ll perk back up and I can get another whole arrangement out of them.

  5. Dawn

    PLEASE do not use fire indoors without proper ventilation! Fire needs two things to burn: fuel and
    OXYGEN! Don’t suffocate yourself 😉 Thanks much for the charring secret, my gorgeous first cut of hollyhocks lasted about 2 hours.

    • Diane

      Thanks Dawn for that reminder! Yes, I am lucky to have a window above the utility/hobby room sink.
      I can so relate, I had beautiful hollyhock cuttings that withered within hours. But when the storm decimated my hollyhock forest, I had nothing to lose and was so excited when the charring worked for me.



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