How to dry flowers

Posted on: 02 August 2018 by 50connect editorial

Dried flowers. There are many ways of drying fresh flowers, they look beautiful and bring your summer flower season indoors all year round.

drying lavender

From dried flowers you can make wreaths, swags, flower arrangements, you can decorate frames, mirrors, hats, whatever. You can make homemade paper with dried flowers, you can use dried herbals (many of which are flowers) in teas, poultices and infusions. Many herbs, as you know, are great in recipes. Potpourri uses hundreds of dried flowers. One of my favorite things to do with dried flowers is to make mementos of important events that I can hang and enjoy forever. I made a wreath from the flowers of my wedding bouquet. I even made a memorial wreath from the flowers of my grandmother's funeral. Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of my grandmother and her love of yellow roses. Air drying is the easiest and cheapest way to dry flowers.

The key to successful air drying depends upon knowing when to harvest the flowers and plants. It is always important to select flowers and plants that are in top notch condition. Do not pick plants that are missing petals, look as if they've been eaten upon or are discolored in any way.

1. Gather your specimens on a sunny day, after the morning dew has evaporated and before the heat of the day.

2. Choose flowers at their peak of colour. Some plants should be picked before they are fully open, some should be picked after they have opened, and others should be left on the plant until it is fully dried.

3. Cut plants with sharp scissors or pruning shears. Remove leaves from the bottom third of the stems. This will make it easier to bundle your flowers as well as making it easier to dry quickly. Unless you are collecting seeds and plan to resow the area, never pick all the plants from one plot. You want the source to be productive for years to come.

4. Gather 8 - 10 stems in a bundle. Make sure the flowers are arranged so that they are not clumped unevenly. I will sometimes use these bundles on wreaths or swags just as they are and other times I will take the bundles apart to use the stems separately. Smaller bundles dry more quickly.

5. Tie the bundles off with rubber bands, floral wire, string or pipe cleaners. As flowers and plants dry, they will shrink. Rubber bands tend to shrink with the plants but must be cut if you are planning on using the stems separately in designs. In other words, if you are going to use your bundles then rubber bands are the best way to go. If you are going to separate the stems after drying, use floral wire, string or pipe cleaners. Some books suggest you adjust these as the plants dry but I have found that most bundles will stay together and tied up without these adjustments.

drying flowers

6. Next, you will want to hang these bundles upside down to dry. At least, this is the easiest method of three. We will discuss the other two methods later. I find that paper clips pulled apart are great for suspending these bundles - just attach to the rubber bands. You should hang these bundles in a well-ventilated, cool, dark spot for best results. Attics, closets, cool sheds, garages, moist free basements and even bedroom walls work great for thiis. It is most important that the area be well-ventilated. This will prevent mildew. If you can stagger the items so that they are not stacked or touching, this will prevent mildew and will allow the plants to dry quicker. You want the area to be dark so that your colors will be preserved at their optimum peak. You want it to be cool, to prevent moisture and mildew. Mildewed plants must not be used in craft projects.

7. Allow the plants to dry. In the summer, most plants will take up to 10 days. But other plants, especially those with a high water content, may take longer. Roses, for instance, take up to two weeks to dry.

8. Once your flowers are dry, you will want to store them. The best method I've found is to store them in clear bins with lids. Store the same material in each container and label the outside. Place a few moth balls or bags of silica gel in each container and store in a cool dark place - like the back of the closet. You can use these flowers now for years to come.

By Vandy Moore

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