Tips for Drying Flowers

Dry flowers to use in creative art pieces.

Dry flowers to use in creative art pieces.

Keep that beautiful bouquet you received for years and years by drying the flowers before they wither and die. Dried flowers can grace a vase and remain in the open, be used in crafts or pressed between the pages of a book for years of enjoyment. Even if you haven't recently received a floral arrangement, you can bring your garden indoors using various techniques to dry the buds.

Air-drying

Whether you dry cut flowers you received as a gift or pick your own buds from your garden, air-drying is one of the easiest ways to preserve the beauties. Air-drying works particularly well with marigolds, zinnias, baby’s breath, lilacs and roses. If you’re taking the flowers from your garden, cut them in the morning before the dew dries and before they’ve fully opened to ensure more vibrant colors. Bunch your flowers in sets of about six, and remove all the leaves from the stems. Hang the flowers upside down in a warm area that stays dark and that has plenty of circulation. Your dried collection will be ready in three to six weeks. Store your dried flowers in an airtight container if you’re not ready to use them right away.

Pressing

Ferns, pansies and daffodils are ideal flowers for pressing. The pressing method is ideal if you plan on using the dried flowers to make cards, stationary, framed artwork, or other flat art pieces. You don’t need any heavy plant pressing equipment to press flowers at home. Simply place your flowers between an absorbent paper material such as blotters or newspaper, and place heavy books on top of the flowers. A large telephone directory will suffice. Leave the pressed flowers in place for about 10 days to allow all the moisture to be removed. Check the progress after seven days and change the paper if it’s damp.

Burial

Burying flowers in a material that absorbs moisture without changing the shape of the blossom is an ideal way to preserve flowers like roses or carnations in their natural shape. The most common substances used to bury flowers for drying are silica gel crystals and borax. Silica is a moisture-absorbing chemical you can buy at most craft and garden stores. The crystals often come in kits in which you can place the flowers. Less expensive borax detergent needs to be mixed with cornmeal or sand before you bury the flowers for drying. Cornmeal works better than sand because it’s lighter and won’t flatten the flowers. Mix 1 part borax with 1 part cornmeal and a tablespoon of salt in a container in which you can completely cover your flowers. Check the flowers regularly; they should be completely dry in about a week.

Microwaving

If you don’t have time to wait for drying, you can resort to the quick-drying method, easily performed with a microwave. Place your flowers in a glass that’s filled halfway with silica gel crystals. Once the flowers are in place, continue filling the glass with silica gel crystals so they cover the entire flower. Place a container with water alongside the glass in the microwave, and cook on high for one minute. Some flowers may take more time; add 10-second increments if necessary. After the mixture cools, remove the dry flowers.

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