Making Scale Trees from Hydrangea Blooms

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The best material for modeling trees that look like trees is natural vegetation… nothing beats it. For years I’ve used various kinds of natural materials from the yard, my wife’s gardens, and fields near my house. One of the easiest pieces of vegetation to use is a bloom from the Oak Leaf Hydrangea. Note that this is not just any hydrangea – it’s the Oak Leaf variety. Here is what the bush looks like.

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And here is what the natural bloom looks like, fresh from the bush. But before this can become a great scale tree for your model railroad layout, we’ve got some work to do!

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Preparing the Bloom

First you have to remove the remaining leaves from the bloom. Be careful as you do this; don’t pull off the little green beads or balls. They will help add to the bulky look of the tree when it’s finished.

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After that, let the bloom fully dry. You want it to dry because the stem turns a trunk color varying from brown to gray, so no painting is necessary. That’s a great time saver! It may take a week or so for the bloom to completely dry out.

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Applying the Adhesive

Before adding the foliage you need to hit the “tree” with either hair spray or adhesive spray so the ground foam will stick to the branches.

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Adding the Foam

Sprinkle on the green foam a little at a time, adding more adhesive as necessary. Keep adding the ground foam until the tree looks full enough to have a home on the layout. I always use a big box to catch the foam as I sprinkle it on the branches. This foam can be re-used after it falls to the bottom.

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The Finished Tree

And there you have it! Easy as that. All you have to do now is puncture a hole in your scenery and insert the tree trunk. This tree probably costs about 10 cents to make, if that.

It’s a great way to produce a lot of nice trees for your layout without spending a lot on readymade trees.

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Do you have any other ideas for money-saving scenery and layout ideas? Let us know in the comments.

Related video: How to Make Model Railroad Trees for Your Background

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29 Responses to “Making Scale Trees from Hydrangea Blooms”

  1. Raymond D Taureck

    I made fruit trees and other types of trees from a furnace filter, I would cut the filter into the desired shape, spray with hair spray, sprinkle crushed green foam on it and place colored plastic beads for the fruit trees and used either toothpicks or cut down bamboo skewers stained or painted brown for the trunks. I also made chain link fence out of window screen material attached to toothpicks.

  2. Terry

    I have a butterfly bush in out back yard I use. Once the flower dries up I cat them. I use Elmer's glue and mix it 80% water 20% glue. I dip the flower in to the glue and use Woodland Scenic Fine Turf in a green color to sprinkle on and let dry hanging upside down. They make great N Scale pine trees.

  3. Ken Vandevoort

    I also do it with sedum, cheap hairspray and Woodland Scenics. It didn't take long to grow enough sedum to last a lifetime and it makes you feel bad to throw the new crop out.

  4. tom padgett

    Have done the same with sedum

  5. Phil Brueck

    What are some good plants for use in constructing N scale trees?

  6. Dean

    I have also found that the spent flowers of Astilbe work great for conifer trees. And they are a perennial so you can harvest a new crop every summer.

  7. Michael Raines

    I'm new to modeling and have already make a few trees and bushes but want to learn more


    Bonne idée merci.

  9. Robert Chiles

    The Hydrangea blooms work great. At this time of year, the Crepe Myrtle trees are bare and the stems where their blossoms grow make wonderful tree armatures.

  10. AL

    I wish I had known this before I moved. I had a magnificent Oak Leaf and the blooms were very plentiful. Thanks to this article I have to buy another.