If you have purchased rose petals from an herbal supplier, you know that the cost can be prohibitive. Instead, harvest rose petals from the bushes growing in your yard to dry and use them in herbal tea mixes, in soap, or as decoration. They are delicate, so handle your roses carefully from start to finish.
A word of caution: Do not harvest rose petals from flowers that you buy from the florist for edible consumption, as they have likely been treated with pesticides. No matter what your florist says, those roses are just for viewing, never ingesting. If you want to dry florist rose petals, they should only be used for decorative purposes.
Harvesting and Drying Rose Petals
Rose petals tend to break down easily, so follow simple instructions to ensure they remain fragrant and fresh until you're ready to dry.
- Pick the petals in the mid-morning after the dew has evaporated but the ultra-hot midday sun hasn't yet appeared.
- Lay the petals in a single layer as you gather them. They can start to become mushy and break down in minutes if you make the mistake of placing them in a hot and dark place, like an herbal harvest bag.
- Arrange the petals on absorbent paper so they don't touch each other. A screen also works very well, but remember that once dried, rose petals will blow around easily. To avoid this, place a second screen on top to carefully sandwich.
- Dry the rose petals in the shade, as the direct sun will quickly fade the petal color.
For the best scent, harvest rose petals straight from a newly opened flower bloom rather than waiting for them to fall off naturally. Blossoms that have been open for more than a day or two will have less of a scent and flavor.
You can also dry rose petals in a dehydrator. Set the appliance to the lowest heat setting—around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, if possible—to ensure that the petals dry without burning.
How to Use Dried Rose Petals
Once dried, you can store your roses like any other dried herb, taking care that no light reaches the petals. If you are using a glass jar, keep it inside a dark cupboard. There are many ways you can use your dried rose petals, including:
- Herbal Teas: Since they have little to no flavor after they are dried, adding roses to a tea mixture is just for visual pleasure. Add with a light hand and blend well.
- Rose Water: Combine 1/3 cup of dried rose petals with 2/3 cup distilled water and 1/3 cup witch hazel. Let it infuse for two weeks, and then strain out the petals. Use it as a facial spray or linen spray.
- Decor: You can make lovely ornaments with dried rose petals. Use them to coat Styrofoam balls that have been dipped in glue. These can be a nice addition to the holiday tree with a natural theme.
- Soapmaking: Make rose petal soap to sell or give as gifts. Rose essential oil is often added for fragrance.
- Herbal Sleep Pillows: These small herbal pouches filled with rose petals and rose essential oil that can be placed inside the pillowcase of a favorite pillow.