Drying flowers is a fantastic way to preserve beautiful bouquets for many months, even years, to come. A few simple dried flowers placed around a room or house can make great delicate accent pieces. They are also great for crafting – glue a few small springs or dried flower heads to the face of cards or thread a few into the ribbons next time you’re gift wrapping.
Although almost every flower can be preserved successfully through drying, some methods work best for particular flowers. Hardier flowers such as roses, hydrangea and statice, as well as flowers on the smaller side, like lavender, will dry best with simple air-drying. You can experiment to figure out which flowers will also do well via this method. Other more delicate flowers can be dried using silica gel, available at most craft stores. Flowers that work best with this method include anemones, pansies and daisies.
You will need:
• Rubber bands
• Paper clips or clothes hangers
– Gather your flowers in mid-morning, when the dew has already evaporated. Remove any extra foliage from each stack and cut the flowers down to the height you want, making sure to keep them at least 6 inches long.
– Wrap the stalks tightly with a rubber band, in bunches about a half-inch in diameter. Find a cool, dry place to hang your flowers, as exposure to the sun will cause them to lose color.
– Now you’ll want to suspend your flowers upside-down from the ceiling or from a rack in an empty closet. There are a number of ways to do this. You can attach a paper-clip to the rubber band and thread the other end to a string or hook hanging from the ceiling. You can also use clothes hangers or string tied to a nail or other protruding object.
– Leave the flowers to dry for about 2-3 weeks, and you’re all set with a beautiful and lasting bouquet. Note: you might want to spray them with hairspray to keep them extra fresh looking.
Silica Gel Drying:
You will need:
• Silica gel
• Airtight plastic or glass container (one you won’t reuse for food)
Flowers on the delicate side and those which contain lots of moisture won’t dry as well with the air drying method. Instead, pick up a bag of silica gel from a craft store and have an airtight container ready.
– You will have to cut your flowers down to about 3 inches tall, as the stems will not dry well with this method. Contrary to what its name would suggest, silica gel is actually sold in a granular or powder form, and can be reused.
– Pour the silica gel into an airtight glass or plastic container until it is an inch thick. Then, place your flowers head-down on top of the silica gel and cover them with another layer of the gel, also about an inch in thickness.
– Seal the container and let sit for up to 5 days, no less than 4.
Notes: the color may change slightly during the drying process. Also, if silica gel is not available, you can use a mixture of equal parts Borax and cornmeal. Since the flowers need to be cut down for this process, you can use florist’s wire to give them the height they need for use in arrangements.
Microwave + Silica gel Drying:
You will need:
• Silica gel
• Microwave-safe container with lid (one you won’t reuse for food)
This is by far the quickest method to dry your flowers. Flowers that do best with microwave drying include: peonies, hollyhocks, pansies, buttercups and zinnias. Follow the same instructions as those above for Silica gel drying, but do not cover the container. For best results, dry one type of flower at a time, since different types dry faster or slower relative to each other.
– When you’ve positioned your flowers in the way you desire, microwave on medium heat or at level 4 or 5 for about 2-3 minutes. This is a trial and error process since microwave temperatures vary, so check your flowers after the first few minutes, and if you find that they still haven’t dried, give them a minute or two more.
– Once they are fully dry, remove from the microwave and cover them immediately. After about a minute, remove the cover and place it on top of the container so that it is slightly off-center, allow some air in. Let stand for 24 hours.
The great thing about silica gel is that it can be reused many times, so you can perfect the process over the course of your experiment. Note: Use a container that you won’t use for food in the future.