Drying flowers is a great way to preserve some of summer’s beauty over the long winter months. Whether you are making a keepsake of your memories, or using them for some crafts while cooped up inside, drying flowers can be easy if done right. Consider the following when deciding on a method.
•Air drying works best for bouquets and long-lasting flowers like lavender.
•The microwave drying technique will preserve the color and structure of individual blooms like gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums, roses, and tulips.
•For more delicate flowers like lilies, try pressing.
•The older a bloom is the more likely it is to lose its petals in the drying process, so don’t wait too long to begin drying your flowers.
•Silica gel, which can be found in craft stores, can be used over and over again to preserve the shape of your flowers.
How to Air Dry Flowers
1. Strip any excess foliage from the flowers and cut the stems to your desired length. It is recommended you go no shorter than six inches. For best color retention, remove the flowers from sunlight as soon as they’re cut. You can hang them individually or rubber-band stems together to hang a bouquet. Hint: wrap flowers in newspaper to help eliminate light penetration.
2. The best place to hang flowers is in a dark, dry area with good circulation, like an attic or closet. Secure the bottom of the flowers’ stems with twine or string, and hang upside down to dry. Leave the flowers for two to three weeks until completely dry.
3. Remove flowers from twine and spray with unscented hairspray for protection.
How to Microwave Dry Flowers
1. Make sure to use a microwave-safe container, and do not use a dish you want
to use for food again after this project.
2. Cover the bottom of the container with an inch or two of silica gel, a little more for larger blossoms. Place flowers blossom-up, in the gel and then pour more gel over the petals. Make sure to pour gently so that petals don’t get flattened.
3. Place the uncovered container in the microwave. Microwave temperature and time will vary according to the type of flower, so this step requires a bit of trial and error. Start the microwave on one or two heat levels above defrost for 2-5 minutes. (Roses can withstand more heat, while daisies prefer lower temperatures.) Check your flower’s progress after a short time and then periodically. Increase heat and time as needed.
4. Once flowers are dry, open the microwave and immediately cover the container. Remove the covered container from the microwave, open the top a quarter of a centimeter, and let it sit for 24 hours.
5. Clean the gel from the petals with a fine brush and then mist with an acrylic
spray (also available at craft stores).
Take note that dried flowers will fade quickly when exposed to sunlight or extreme heat, so be sure to keep them in cool areas away from windows when on display.
Flowers and other plant materials for drying should be picked close to their prime. Flowers to be air-dried continue to open as they dry, so they should not be fully open when picked. Always collect more material than is needed, to allow for damage. Use only plants and flowers free of insect and disease damage. Damage becomes only more obvious after drying.
Submitted by Alexis Sheffield, Agent for Horticulture, Boyle Co. Cooperative Extension Service