Selecting Flowers to Dry
Some flowers just work better than others. Flowers with a high water content, like sedum, don't air dry well. Here is a partial list of flowers that are good choices, but you are going to learn by experimenting. Always cut more flowers than you will need, because you will probably lose some in the drying process.
The best time to harvest your flowers is late morning, just after the dew has evaporated from the leaves.
Different plants should be cut at different stages of bloom. In general, most flowers do best when cut slightly immature, with the bud not fully open, since the flower will continue to open once cut. Often fully open flowers will drop their petals as they dry.
There are Many Ways to Dry or Preserve Flowers
What You’ll Need To Get Started
- Cut flowers
- Rubber bands
- String or Hooks for hanging flowers
- Paper clips
- Newspaper or dropcloth
- Silica gel (Optional)
- Airtight plastic or glass container (If using silica gel)
Air drying is the simplest way to preserve your cut flowers. Gather the flower stems into small bunches, about a ½ inch in diameter, and wrap them tightly with a rubber band. The stems will shrink slightly, so make sure the band is tight. Hook a paper clip through the rubber band and hang the bunches, upside down, from the ceiling, with a hook or string. Keep them upside down so that the stem don’t bend from being top heavy.
If you are only drying the flower heads, lay them out individually on a screen. The other requirements remain the same.
The bunches will need to be out of direct sunlight, preferably in darkness. The more sun the flowers are exposed to, the more the color will fade.
Don’t group the bunches too close to one another.
Good air circulation and low humidity are also important factors in drying flowers.
Drying times will vary depending on the type of flower and conditions like humidity, temperature and air circulation. Most flowers will take somewhere between 10 to 20. You will know they are dry when they feel stiff and the stems snap easily.
Drying with Silica Gel
Fragile flowers and those with a lot of moisture, may dry better if you speed the process with a drying agent like silica gel. Silica gel is actually granular, like sea salt and it is reusable. You can readily find silica gel in any craft store.
Use a shallow, airtight plastic or glass container. Spread a 1 inch think layer of the silica gel on the bottom of the container. On top of that, space your flower heads. Then gently cover the flowers with at least another inch of gel. Seal the container and let it be for 3-5 days.
Drying Flowers in a Microwave
If you’d like to speed the process even further, you could microwave the container with the flowers and gel, for about 3minutes. Let the container cool for 20 minutes before opening. Check that flowers are fully dry before removing.
The dried flower heads can be taped to floral wire to use in arrangements.
Keeping Your Dried Flowers Looking Good
Once the drying process is complete, you can begin enjoying your flowers in arrangements, wreaths and crafts. You will still need to give them minimal sun exposure, to retain their color. It would also be wise to keep them away from forced air heat, which can make the already dry flowers become brittle.
As with everything else on display in your house, dried flowers will become dusty. A delicate feather duster can usually be safely used. You might also try a blow dryer on cool or low.
Storing Dried Flowers
If you are going to be storing your dried flowers, wrap them in newspaper, to prevent them from drawing in moisture from the air. Then place the wrapped flowers in a box, so they don’t get accidentally crushed.
Keep them out of damp basements and overly dry spots, like attics.
Good Flower Choices for Drying
- African Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
- Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
- Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
- Delphinium, Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)
- Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro)
- Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)
- Globe amaranth (Gomphrena)
- Lady's Mantle Alchemilla mollis
- Larkspur (Consolida ambigua)
- Lavender (Lavandula Augustifolia)
- Mealy Cup Sage Salvia farinacea
- Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) seed heads
- Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)
- Pompom Dahlias (Dahlia hortensis)
- Poppy seed heads (Papaver somniferum)
- Roses (Rosa)
- Starflower (Scabiosa stellata)
- Statice (Limonium sinuatum)
- Strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)