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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.

Air-drying flowers:

You will need:

• Flowers
• Rubber bands
• Paper clips or clothes hangers
• String

– 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:

• Flowers
• 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:

• Flowers
• Silica gel
• Microwave-safe container with lid (one you won’t reuse for food)
• Microwave

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.

Dyed FlowersDyeing fabric using plant materials is surprisingly easy and a great activity for a lazy spring or summer weekend. The first step is to collect your materials. Gather plant materials from anywhere you can, but as a rule, always leave more than your take – you don’t want to destroy a whole stand of wildflowers or plants. Here are some plant and flower suggestions for various colors:
Blue/Purple: Indigo, Elderberries, Red cabbage, Hyacinth flowers, Blueberries

Green: Carrot tops, Spinach leaves, Artichokes, Grass, Queen Anne’s Lace

Yellow and gold: Ragweed leaves, Goldenrod flowers, Osage orange, Pomegranate rinds

Orange: Marigold, Paprika, Dahlia flowers, Jewelweed

Red: Madder Root, Sumac, Dandelion root, Beets

Pink: Raspberries, Cherries, Avocado rind and seeds, Strawberries, Rose, Lavender

Brown: Black Walnut, Cherry bark, Whole acorns , St. John’s Wort, Birch Bark

Gray: Bayberry leaves, Sumac berries

Note: Make sure you pick flowers at the height of their bloom; this is when they contain the most pigment.

After you’ve gathered all your plant materials, rinse any dirt off and let dry.

Making your dye solution:

– Cut your plant materials into small bits. Measure the amount of plant materials (in cups) that you have and place them in a pot with double the amount of water, i.e. the plant to water ratio should be 1:2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer for about an hour and then strain out the plant matter.

Preparing your fabric for dyeing:
To make sure your fabric won’t bleed or lose color over time, it’s a great idea to use a Color fixative. For plant-based dyes, make a simple Vinegar fixative, and for berry-based dyes, make a Salt fixative. In terms of types of fabric, muslin, wool and silk in white or very light colors will generally hold the dye best.

Vinegar fixative for plant-based dyes: Combine 1 part vinegar with four parts water, 1:4.

Salt fixative for berry-based dyes: Combine half a cup of salt with 8 cups of water, .5:8.

– Place the fabric to be dyed in the appropriate mixture and leave it to simmer. After about an hour, carefully remove your fabric and rinse in cold water. Do not dry.

– When your fabric is prepared, you’re all set to start the dyeing process. Make sure to wear gloves, as the dyes can easily stain your hands! When you’re ready, simply place the wet fabric in your dye bath and simmer until it reaches the color you desire, longer for deeper colors. Keep in mind that the color will look somewhat lighter when the fabric has fully dried.

– If possible, dry your fabric outside to avoid getting dye-stains in your house. Be sure to wash your newly dyed fabric separately and in cold water.

Red

Poppies: The poppy blooms in a beautiful shade of orange-red. Its delicate petals give the flower a light, airy quality which seems to further highlight the intensity of its vivid red color. The color of the petals is offset by its black, velvety center.
Roses: A symbol of love the world over, the red rose is by far the most popular red flower. Unlike the poppy, roses tend to bloom in shades of bluish-red or deep pinkish-red. However, roses are so heavily
Amaryllis: This tall, showy flower grows in many varieties of colors. Some are even striped or patterned. But the red toned amaryllis is an especially beautiful bloom. It can be found in both blue-red and orange-red shades, both of which are nicely accented by the delicate yellow pollen. The amaryllis is a favorite for centerpieces and, unlike many other flowers, looks best when standing alone of with only other amaryllises in a vase.

Pink

Peonies: The peony is a lush bloom with bunched petals, giving it a very full look. Peonies bloom in many shades of pink, including pale pink, a medium bluish-pink and a more yellow-pink. Pale pink works best for elegant occasions, while the more saturated, deeper pinks are good picks for cheery spring bouquets.
Gerber Daises: Gerber daises bloom in some of the brightest shades of any flower. Light pink gerbers with green-yellow centers have a cheery, yet graceful look to them and are also great springtime flowers. Gerbers also bloom in a rich shade of magenta, probably more appropriate for evening affairs.
Orchids: These beautiful plants bloom in deep shades of fuchsia, usually with small spots of white or pale pink. The variety and pattern of colors contained in a single orchid flower can be dizzying. Phalaenopsis orchids can be found in striped varieties like the “kaleidoscope phalaenopsis,” which is often yellow and pink striped.

White

Chrysanthemums: Chrysanthemums bloom in a variety of different shades, but white is widely considered the most elegant. The chrysanthemum or “mum” blooms in a shade of creamy or antique white and makes an excellent centerpiece for an elegant affair. White chrysanthemum can also be made into a tea, popular in China, which is also the country which contains the highest diversity chrysanthemum species.

Lilies: White Oriental Lilies are among the most elegant flowers cultivated. The pure white of the petals is offset by the deep burgundy of the pollen. Buy stalks that have more blooms unopened than open to ensure that blooms last for at least a few days.
Frangipani: This heavily scented flower is mostly white, with yellow covering the base of each petal toward the center. It may be more difficult to find, as it is a tropical flower, but it will be well worth the search.

Yellow

Daffodils: This beacon of spring usually contains two different and complementary shades of yellow on each flower – a lighter yellow on the outer petals, and a deep yellow or orange on the trumpet-shaped central petals.
Marigolds: Marigolds bloom in shades of yellow and orange and are popular for the variety of colors they display as well as their benefit for gardens – they are known to keep pests away. Petal colors can range from a deep burnt-orange to a light pale yellow, with some of the most beautiful varieties displaying as many as three different colors on one flower head.
Peruvian lilies: Peruvian lilies, or alstroemeria, blooms in many different colors, but the yellow lily is certainly among the most captivating. Dotted with reddish-brown streaks, the yellow peruvian lily is a symbol of cheeriness and springtime, yet carries a certain elegance at the same time.

Purple

Pansies: Pansies are especially beautiful in shades of purple. The outer regions of the petals are usually a lighter purple, while the inner regions are much darker – almost black. Toward the very center, petals turn white and yellow, complementing the purple shades nicely.
Hyacinths: Although hyacinths are now grown in many different colors, most people associated them with the traditional purple-blue hue. Hyacinths in this shade carry the largest variety of color in each single flower head. The central part of each petal is a deep bluish-purple, which fades out toward the edges until all color is almost gone, leaving a white “outline.” Since hyacinths grow as short stalks, save these for shorter, more compact bouquets.
Irises: Like purple pansies, irises display the complementary color scheme of purple and yellow. The petals of the iris are quite delicate, so handle this flower with care. Like the Hyacinth, this flower falls in the purple-blue category.

Blue

Blue Vanda Orchids: Like many “blue” flowers, the Blue Vanda Orchid could be considered purple depending on whom you ask. But if not a true blue, it certainly comes close. This unique flower is spotted with square-shaped dots of white on each petal. The petals are very full-looking, being somewhat larger than typical orchid petals.
Morning glories: These trumpet shaped flowers have one true petal which is creased at regular intervals. True to their name, the flowers open in the morning and are usually closed by noon. The petals display a delicate periwinkle blue which fades to white, and eventually yellow, towards the center.
Hydrangeas: Hydrangeas bloom in all shades of purple, blue, white and even green, but the deep blue blooms are probably the most eye-catching. The hydrangea plant is a bush with conspicuous bulb or ball-shaped blooms. Each bloom actually contains many small flowers with four petals each.

In keeping with time-honored wisdom, the best method for combating the problem is prevention. Build the protection right into your flower garden by planting pest-resistant flowers and plants. Some flowers are hardier than others when it comes to unwanted insects, and a few of them even attract helpful insects which prey upon garden-damaging pests. Here are some flowers and plants that make the cut:
Borage

Borage:

Also known as Starflower, this helpful annual herb curbs the presence of both cabbage worms and hornworms. It is also known to aid surrounding plants in combating pests and disease by strengthening their resistance. If properly cared for, the herb will return year after year, since it is self-seeding.


 

Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums:

Prized the world over for their resplendent beauty and showy blooms, this perennial flower functions as a pesticide when made into a tea. It contains a natural insecticide called pyrethrum, which attacks the central nervous system of all insects. Pyrethrum is considered to be one of the safest forms of insecticide, as it is biodegradable and decomposes upon exposure to light. Chrysanthemums are especially known for deterring the presence of root nematodes and Japanese beetles.


Dahlias

Dahlias:

These herbaceous perennials are native to Mexico, Central America and Colombia. They are useful in any vegetable or flower garden, as they repel nematodes in addition to producing stunning blossoms. These are some of the most stunning flowers, very closely resembling a Lotus flower with the beautiful flower peddles and awesome color variations.


Four O'Clocks

Four O’Clocks:

Also known as “Marvel of Peru,” these attractive, trumpet-shaped annuals come in shades of white, yellow, pink, red and are sometimes two-toned. While they are very effective at luring and killing Japanese beetles, Four O’Clocks are also poisonous to animals – including humans – so bear this in mind when choosing a location for planting.


Lavender

Lavender:

While pleasing to many humans, insects are not fond of the h2 scent of lavender, making it an excellent general pest repellent. It will especially keep away mosquitoes, flies, fleas and moths. It also had the added benefit of safeguarding surrounding plants from whiteflies. When mixed with vinegar and set aside to infuse, dried lavender flowers can be made into an effective insect repellent.


Marigolds

Marigolds:

Widely regarded as one of the best insect-repelling flowers, Marigolds come in a few different varieties which target various pests. Mexican Bush Marigold is an effective general insecticide (it grows very fast and will need to be cut back regularly), while French Marigold will specifically repel whiteflies and nematodes. Both emit h2 odors which curb the presence of harmful insects, so be sure to purchase the scented varieties.


Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums:

Nasturtiums are edible perennials which have many different uses, culinary, medicinal and insecticidal. Popular in herbal medicine for their antiseptic quality and respiratory benefits, they also add a delightfully peppery taste to salads. When planted near cucumbers and tomatoes, they will repel cucumber beetles, aphids, whiteflies and squash bugs. The flowers, especially yellow ones, also attract aphids, keeping them away from plants nearby. The nasturtium blooms can be sprayed with soapy water to kill these pesky invaders.


Petunias

Petunias:

These colorful garden favorites are known to keep out aphids, leafhoppers, tomato hornworms, asparagus beetles, Mexican beetles and cabbage worms. They have the added benefit of attracting helpful pollinators such as bees and butterflies to the garden. Drought tolerant and pleasantly scented, they make a great addition to any home garden.


Sunflowers

Sunflowers:

One of the most easily recognizable flowers, these showy beauties are aphid traps which draw the pests away from surrounding plants and flowers. Like petunias, they also invite pollinators like bees and butterflies into the garden as well.


 

Not everyone has a green thumb from the get-go, but fear not, some plants will thrive even under the care of a novice gardener. All that’s needed is some sunlight, regular waterings, and a little TLC to make these easy-to-grow plants mature into beautiful blooms.

AfricaAfrican Violetn Violet:

This plant produces beautiful deep purple flowers and is among the easiest houseplants to maintain. The African Violet will bloom year round if given proper care. Just make sure to keep the soil evenly moist and water only when the top layer feels dry to the touch – most African Violets die from over-watering. Try to keep water off the leaves as this will cause brown spots. These plants do best in an east-facing window with bright but filtered light. For best results pot them with soilless potting mix, and turn them about a quarter of the way around once a week.


 

Anthurium:Anthurium

This hardy plant grows attractive red, green or pink heart-shaped blooms. It thrives in medium to bright light, but keep out of direct sun to avoid burning (if the leaves begin to feel crispy, it is getting too much light). Keep soil evenly moist, limiting watering to about once a week. Reduce waterings in winter and fall.


 

BegonBegoniaias:

Popularly kept as outdoor plants, some varieties of begonia actually make great houseplants. Look for types with fibrous roots, such as hairy or wax-leafed begonias. They will do well under fluorescent lighting or in most window locations, with the exclusion of north-facing windows. As with African Violets, use a soilless potting mix for best results and be careful not to overpot (avoid filling the pot with too much soil); these plants are actually very tolerant of underpotting. Allow the top layer of soil to dry out between waterings, then water thoroughly until it drips from the bottom of the pot.


 

Christmas Cactus:Christmas Cactus

These cacti will produce beautiful show red or orange blooms in mid to late December, and make relatively few demands on the caretaker. They like bright but indirect light and do well placed near a window with indirect sun. Keep them away from heating vents, as they may tend to dry out. For indoor cacti, water about once a week, only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. These plants like humidity, so give the leaves a good misting or keep a saucer of water next to the plant to provide it with moisture as the water evaporates.


 

Hibiscus:Hibiscus

Native to the tropics, the hibiscus is perfect for high light-level environments, so provide it with as much sunlight as possible by placing near a bright window. With proper care, the hibiscus plant will produce beautiful blooms from late spring all the way through fall. About every 3 to 4 days, water your hibiscus thoroughly until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to let it sit in standing water as this may cause root rot. Reduce waterings dramatically during cold weather.


 

Kaffir Lily (Clivia):Kaffir Lily

The Kaffir Lily is a cousin of the amaryllis, and is also grown from a bulb. It will bloom sometime in winter or early spring after undergoing a dormant period in late fall. These plants require medium light during the day, and near total darkness at night during their dormant phase. Expose them to cool temperatures and let the soil dry out almost completely in winter to ensure blooming. The spectacular orange-yellow flower will reward your patience through the fall.


 

KalanchKalanchoeoe:

This flowering succulent enjoys bright light, so keep in a well-lit location, moving to a south-facing window in winter for best results. Be sure to let the soil dry out between waterings; the easiest way to kill a Kalanchoe is through over-watering. During the winter, water very sparingly. Plant in ordinary potting mix and remove withered blooms where appropriate. The plant will produce flowers in bright shades of orange, pink, red or yellow in spring.


 

Peace Lily:Peace Lily

The Peace Lily may be the easiest plant to care for on our list. It prefers medium to bright light but is tolerant of low light levels. If the leaves appear yellow, the plant is getting too much light. It thrives in indoor temperatures, but avoid cold drafts to keep it at the peak of health. They enjoy a good misting with distilled or soft water although this is not absolutely necessary. Watering is a no-brainer with this plant, as it sags noticeably when in need of moisture. In general, water about once weekly or every 5-6 days, allowing the top layer of soil to dry out somewhat in between. Reduce watering in the winter. A healthy plant will produce striking white blooms (these are actually modified leaves called spathes rather than true petals) with a prominent yellow stalk, or spadix, in the spring.