Drying Your Own Fresh Flowers
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated September 24, 2013)
Drying your own fresh flowers can be a useful skill to possess for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most common reason is that you would like to help preserve a flower from a special event, with the second most popular being that dried flowers can be a useful decorating tool. So instead of paying exorbitant amounts of money for someone else to do the work for you, follow these directions. You will be amazed at just how easy it is to properly dry flowers out.
- Harvest. Whether you are looking to preserve a precut flower arrangement (such as a corsage) or are looking to dry out flowers you harvest yourself, you will want to look at the stem. The stems should have a smooth cut and not be crushed, so be prepared to use some flower shears to trim away the crushed portion of the stems
- Bundle. Gather together three or four and gently wrap a rubber band around the stems. Be careful not to wrap the rubber band too tightly or you will crush the stems. The rubber band will hold the stems together as the flowers dry out, and ensure that they don't fall.
- Hang. Pull apart a paperclip so that it looks like a large "S" and hook one end through the stems, and the other over a hanger. Place the hanger in a safe location that is warm and dry (such as your closet) until they have dried sufficiently. Typically flowers that are air dried will take about a week, though it can go much faster or slower depending on the humidity of the area you live in.
- Interesting alternative. If you are looking to preserve a flower that has foliage that you think is really interesting, and you don't want it to curl at all then use a different drying method. One of the best that you can use is to lay the flower out on an old window screen with a newspaper placed on top.
- Get a container. Grab a large plastic container, such as a large Tupperware, plastic casserole dish, or even a plastic storage bin. While it doesn't need to be overly large, it does need to be at least two to three inches deep, and large enough to hold the flower. Also, you will want to make sure that you choose a container that has a working lid on it.
- Prepare the bottom. Fill the bottom inch of the container with some silica gel. This gel can be purchased at most home improvement and gardening stores, and while the name says it is a gel, it really doesn't look like it. Rather, it looks like white and blue sand, where the blue parts turn pink when they get too wet.
- Prepare the plant. Unlike with smaller plants or flowers, with some large flowers you will want to remove the stem, or part of the stem, from the flower itself. In large part this will depend on the type of flower that you are using. For example a hyacinth or daffodil you can dry out completely; a peony however will need to have the entire stem removed. Typically a good rule of thumb is to remove most of the stem, leaving only 1/8 inch of the stem attached to the flower.
- Place the flower. Place the prepared flower into the container, on top of the silica gel that you have in the bottom. If you are going to be drying out more than one flower at a time, make sure that they are not touching each other or the sides of the container either.
- Cover the flower. Carefully begin covering the flower or plants with some more silica gel. The easiest way to do this is by using a measuring cup or scoop and slowly pouring the gel over the plant. Don't just dump the gel over the flower though, since you may accidentally damage the foliage and end up with bent petals.
- Use a sealant. On the average, flowers take no more than a week to properly dry out using this method, so leave them alone for about seven days to ensure that they are completely dried out. After that time period has passed, carefully remove them from the gel, and use a surface sealer (which can be purchased from hobby and gardening stores) to help ensure that the flower does not fall apart due to rehydrating.
As you may have noticed, there are different methods listed here for both large and small flowers. The reason for that is simple. Larger flowers, such as roses, sunflowers, dahlias, and so forth are all just a tad top heavy and have rather delicate petals. Hanging the flowers won't preserve the look of such flowers, and in fact leaves them looking rather shriveled and unattractive in appearance.