How to Dry and Preserve Flowers With Laundry Borax

Dry flower hanging on the wall
9c726_509 / Getty Images

Whether the flower is from a special occasion or the aim is to capture a bit of beauty to save for later, laundry borax offers one of the least expensive and easiest ways to dry flowers for arrangements and crafts, such as sachets, which protect stored clothes from insects. All it takes are just a few items and a bit of patience.

Materials Needed

  • Borax powder
  • Plain ground cornmeal or rolled oats
  • Shoebox or container with a lid
  • Flowers

The Best Flowers for Drying With Borax

These flowers are relatively thin-petaled and will dry well in borax. The borax acts as a desiccant and slowly pulls out the moisture in the blooms, leaving the original shape and color.

  • Ageratum
  • Aster
  • Bells of Ireland
  • Carnation
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Coleus
  • Coral Bells
  • Cornflower
  • Daffodil
  • Daisy
  • Dahlia
  • Delphinium
  • Dogwood
  • Feverfew
  • Forsythia
  • Gladiolus
  • Hollyhock
  • Hydrangea (separate flower head into smaller brackets for better success)
  • Lantana
  • Larkspur
  • Lilac
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Magnolia
  • Marigold
  • Pansy
  • Passion Flower
  • Peony
  • Queen Anne's Lace
  • Rose
  • Salvia
  • Snapdragon
  • Tulip
  • Water Lily
  • Yarrow
  • Zinnia

Prepare Flowers for Drying

Start by removing all the leaves from the flower and then cut the stem to the desired length. If you want to preserve only the head of the flower, cut the stem near the base of the petals. If you plan to add an artificial wire stem, do it now by creating a small crook on one end of the wire and slipping the wire through the center of the flower head. The fresher the flower from the garden, the better it will look when it is dried.

If you have flowers from a florist or corner store, freshly trim the ends of the stems and submerge the stems in water and allow them to soak for 20 minutes before beginning the drying process. This will help remove any preservative that has been added. Remove the stems from water and allow the flowers to air dry completely or pat dry with a paper towel before proceeding.

Dry Flowers With Borax

Mix the amount of drying medium you need by combining one part borax with two parts cornmeal or rolled oats. Place about one inch of the mixture evenly in the bottom of the box.

There are two ways to place the flowers in the mixture: face up or horizontally. You will want to do face up for flat flowers such as zinnias, Queen Anne's Lace, and even daffodils. Cut the stems around one-and-a-half inches long. Insert the stems into the bottom layer of the borax mixture. Place the flowers in the box at least two inches apart. Do not crowd the individual blossoms. Slowly cover the blooms with more of the drying medium. Sprinkle it in gently so that the flowers are not crushed. Cover the flowers completely.

Follow the same steps for horizontal placement. Just remember, you will need a deeper box so the thicker blossom head can be completely covered. Add the borax mixture in thin layers so that it reaches all the surfaces of each petal.

Cover the box with a lid and place it in a warm, dry room. Do not disturb the box for at least one week. Then, carefully check the flowers to see if they are dry. Drying time will vary from one to three weeks. A rose can take up to two weeks if it is tightly closed. Smaller, thinner-petaled flowers dry more quickly. It is important to check often because if left for too long, the flowers can look "burned."

Remove the flowers from the box when dry. Gently brush or blow away the borax mixture that may cling to the petals. Use the dried flowers for crafts or home decorations.

The remaining borax mixture can be reused. If it feels damp, it can be spread on a baking sheet and warmed in a 150 degreed F oven for 30 minutes to dry. If you don't plan to use it again right away, pour into an airtight container and label until you are ready to use it again.