The art of how to dry flowers and plants is an old craft, dating back as far as Egyptian times. Today, dry flowers make wonderful indoor decorations, craft supplies and potpourri. Drying flowers is a simple process that can be done at home. Depending on the drying method, type of flower or plant and the surrounding environment, drying time can range between a few days to a few weeks.
Air Dry Flowers
One of the most common methods of drying flowers is the air dry method by hanging. The best type of flower for the hanging method is an everlasting flower, such as lavender, baby’s breath and larkspur.
Collect the stems of your desired flower to air dry into a bunch. Strip away any excess foliage and cut stems to the desired length. Avoid cutting shorter than six inches, as it will be difficult to hang if too short. Use a rubber band to bunch the flowers together. As the stems dry and shrink, a rubber band will prevent the stems from coming loose while hanging.
Choose a cool, dry and dark place to hang the flower bunch. A location away from sunlight minimizes colour fading. A garage ceiling, barn, and closet are all suitable locations to dry flowers. After two to three weeks, check on the flowers to ensure that the bunch is completely dry. Remove hanging flowers and spray the bunch with hair spray or a floral sealer. For best results, keep the dried flowers from heat and sunlight.
Use Desiccant to Dry Flowers
The use of a desiccant, such as silica gel, will dry the flower while preserving its original form. The silica gel acts as a drying agent. Flowers such as marigolds, pansies, chrysanthemums and roses respond well to desiccant drying.
For optimum results, select well-formed flowers that are free from bruising or other damage. Cut off the stem, leaving approximately one inch from the base of the flower. Using a shallow container with a lid, place one to two inches of silica gel at the bottom of the container. Gently place the flowers on the silica, bloom side up. Then, carefully spoon additional amounts of silica over the flowers until the plant is completely covered. Place the lid on the container. Ensure that the container is covered tightly, or the silica will absorb moisture from the surrounding air. This will increase drying time. Wait two to three weeks before removing the flowers from the silica. A technique best used on delicate blossoms that are difficult to preserve, the art of pressing flowers became popular in the Victorian era. Pressed flowers are wonderful to use for a wide range of arts and crafts.
Pressing Flowers Dry
To press flowers, place the blossoms between two sheets of newsprint. When placing flowers, be sure to avoid overlapping petals or leaves. Open a large dictionary or telephone book. Please the newsprint and blossoms between the book pages and press down. Place additional books or heavy objects on the dictionary or telephone book for additional weight and let dry for three to five days. Carefully remove the flowers, as the blossoms are delicate after the pressing process.
Preserve a flower’s beauty by drying it using the air dry method, desiccants or pressing. Create wreaths, greeting cards, arrangements and even jewelry with the preserved blooms. In this manner, the dried flower can be enjoyed far beyond its natural blooming period.