Anyone who follows design trends religiously knows that plants and flower arrangements are a signature staple of a well-styled room, but one trend we’re loving right now is the move from fresh cut flowers to dried and preserved botanical arrangements.
As Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch of Hamptons, New York, shop Hidden Gem tell us, “We incorporate dried flowers year-round for everything! It's become a part of our lifestyle, whether for our everyday decor, as an addition to a beautiful tablescape, or a gift bouquet for a special occasion.”
To figure out how to make this trend work for us, we turned to the experts to ask how to style dried flowers for maximum impact.
Meet the Expert
- Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch are the creators and owners of the Hamptons, New York–based design and gift shop Hidden Gem.
- Helen Ellis is the head of design at Shida Preserved Flowers, a retailer of naturally dried flowers.
Different Dried Flowers, Different Vibes
“Dried and preserved flowers can create so many gorgeous looks, from arrangements with modern, sleek vibes, [to] statement colorful arrangements, to wild meadow style displays,” says Helen Ellis of Shida Preserved Flowers. “To create a more modern look, we like to use a mix of exotic flowers with unusual shapes and textures and keep a minimal approach to the background flowers so we can show off our gorgeous blooms. To create a more country feel, we combine sunshine colors and add lots of grasses for a full bouquet. Think natural and local! Playing around with different color combinations and your favorite flowers will give you the best inspiration."
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Think Outside the Vase
While preserved flowers can be artfully arranged in your favorite vase, you can do even more with these stems.
“Preserved and dried flowers are really versatile, so [they] don’t have to just sit in a vase,” says Ellis. “We love preserved flower wreaths, as they can be displayed in any room and look like a living piece of art. [You can also take] time out to sit and enjoy creating! Small collections of stems can be used for styling gifts and table settings, and we may even adorn our Christmas tree with them towards the holiday season!”
Willock and Willock-Morsch agree. “We love to create bouquets in hanging planters and any fun vessels we can find,” say the sisters. “During the holidays, we make wreaths with whatever dried flowers we have at home. One fun tip for the holidays is adding a few pieces from an already existing bouquet and sliding between the ribbon on a gift. It's a simple way to elevate the wrapping and make your gift extra special.”
Greenery Is a Must
When it comes to creating your dried arrangement, Ellis tells us that she has one staple stem she loves to include. “We love working with greenery, so we always pick eucalyptus; there are so many types, it smells amazing, and [it] looks fantastic against beautifully colored blooms,” she says.
Add Texture, a Statement, and a Scent
As you shape your arrangements, Ellis reminds us that texture and a statement focal flower are also key. “There’s always room for something that can add texture like gypsophila (aka baby’s breath) which comes in many colors and whose delicate tiny flowers fill spaces helping to show off all the flowers in the bouquet,” she says. “[And] statement focal flowers draw the eye. We love sculptural flowers like scabiosa, proteas, and Echinops to add drama and style!”
Willock and Willock-Morsch have their own must-haves. “We love dried lavender—the smell is more intense and lasts forever,” they say. “We also love dried palms! They can come in a variety of colors, which is not an option when they are fresh.”
Switch up Your Stems
“One of the best things about preserved flowers is that they last such a long time, meaning that you can rearrange your flowers into a different bouquet whenever you feel like it,” Ellis says. “Great transitional stems to add to your arrangement could be dark greens like Parvifolia Eucalyptus and burgundy reds like Populus, which both work well to change the feel of the bouquet. [Or add] silver tones [to] make your flowers seem brighter and less moody for the spring.”
Celebrate Their Sustainability
Along with being long-lasting, preserved flowers are also a more sustainable option than fresh arrangements. “As people think more and more about the environment, sustainability, and single-use items (and trying to find ways around them), preserved flowers have been thrown into the home decor spotlight for their natural look and feel and long-lasting qualities,” says Ellis. “Preserved flower converts agree that these real preserved flowers and foliage make the perfect alternative to fresh flowers."
Professionally Preserved Flowers Last Longer
While you can DIY your own dried flowers, Ellis suggests buying professionally dried arrangements. “Preserved flowers go through a process that removes the sap and replaces it with naturally occurring glycerine and dyes which keep the leaves soft and supple, and the color bright and fresh-looking,” she says. “Drying out flowers naturally is a great way to keep beautiful fresh flowers for a long time, but it can make them very fragile and cause them to lose their color. Preserved flowers are a sure-fire way to have beautiful fresh-looking blooms in your home all year round!”
They’re Low- (aka No-)Maintenance
As another perk to buying preserved stems, Willock and Willock-Morsch reminded us that it’s a huge time-saver. “If you have the patience, drying them yourself is a fun project," they say. "Otherwise, buying from a vendor is quick and easy. Spend your time getting creative with different flower combinations.”
Plus, “dried flowers are wonderful because they essentially last forever,” they say. “You don't need to water them and they can go in just about anything. There are all sorts of seasonal flowers that come dried. We wouldn't put a season limit on using dried bouquets—they add a classic and warm touch to a home any time of year.”
This is what makes these arrangements particularly perfect for guest rooms. "Having dried flowers in these spaces helps make those spaces guest-ready without worrying about getting new fresh bouquets," say Willock and Willock-Morsch.
If You Do DIY, Start Fresh
If you still want to give the DIY route a try, Ellis has one major tip: “Use the freshest flowers you can. It’ll help to keep their color and shape in the drying process.” She also suggests trimming the flowers to fit their intended vase or vessel before drying them.
While preserved flowers don't need to replace all the living plants and flowers in your home, it's undeniable: Their versatility, beauty, and endurance make these arrangements a trend we hope last a long time.