How to Dry Flowers?
Drying flowers is such a rewarding experience because it is easy to do, the flowers usually dry remarkably well, and they last for many years. Flowers can be dried in several different ways, by hanging, pressing or with various drying agents.
If you would like to dry flowers or bouquets on your own, cut the blossoms when their color is at its peak. Remove the leaves, then try one of the following flower drying methods:
- Dried Flowers By Hanging/Air-drying
- This is the most widely used and the easiest method to reap dried flowers. There are a number of garden flowers, as well as wild plants, that can be dried simply by hanging them upside down in a warm, dry place for several weeks. Flowers best suited to this are the "everlastings" and a few others that do not wilt readily. Some, such as globe amaranth, can be dried in bunches on their natural stems. Others, such as strawflower, should have a wire substituted for stems before drying.
- Dried Flowers By Pressing
- Easy and quick, though the contour is lost and flowers are flat. For pressing, use unglazed paper, such as newsprint or an old telephone book. Place the flowers so that they do not overlap between several thicknesses of the paper. Weigh down with a heavy object. Dried Flowers are ready in two to four weeks.
- Dried Flowers Using Drying Agents
- Flowers can be dried by burying them in materials such as sand and borax or corn meal and borax. These materials are successful for certain flowers, but undependable for others. More recently, the most satisfactory material for drying flowers at home is silica gel. Initial cost is greater than that of borax-sand or borax-cornmeal combinations, but it can be used over and over for many years. Since it dries flowers quickly, more flowers can be moved in and out of the mixture during a single season than in the same quantity of a borax mixture. Silica gel is available under a number of trade names. It is white, but some types contain blue crystals that act as an indicator of the amount of moisture which has been absorbed. When these crystals are a clear blue the material is dry. As the moisture is absorbed from the flowers, the crystals gradually turn pink. At that point it is time to redry before using again.
- To dry the material, spread the silica gel on open pans or cookie sheets in a layer 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Bake in an oven at about 250 degrees until the crystals are blue again. This may take about an hour. Stir the crystals several times while they are drying. Keep unused silica gel in air-tight containers.
- Dried Flowers With Micro Oven
- Microwave drying takes only a few minutes and provides dried flowers that look fresher and more colorful than those obtained by other methods. Support material such as silica gel must surround and support the flowers during heating and drying. Use heat-tolerant glass or microwave containers. Do not cover the containers. Place a cup of water in the oven before starting to help prevent excessive drying. Drying times vary from about 3 minutes for very dense flowers with a lot of petals to about 1 minute for smaller or thinner-petaled flowers. Since ovens and flowers vary, experimentation will be required. After treatment is complete, leave flowers in the silica gel for 12 to 24 hours to make sure they are cooled and dried. Since microwave-dried flowers tend to absorb air moisture, spray the petals with hair spray or lacquer. For long term storage, keep them in an airtight container.
Storing Dried Flowers
Dried flowers in storage, may occasionally be attacked by one or more household insects such as museum beetles, silverfish, roaches or others closely related to them. As they chew on the soft tissue of the plant centers, flowers may shatter and fall apart. They are not necessarily on the flowers as they come from the garden but move into the boxes in the home during storage.
Occasionally check boxes, and if insects are present, destroy the infected materials. Tightly sealed containers prevent invasion. If the pests are present, thoroughly clean the container before using it again. Naphthalene flakes may repel insects or some general insecticides may help control them, but once an area is infested, complete eradication is difficult. Cleanliness and persistence are the best means of remedying the situation.
Don't consider dried flowers as everlasting. Preferably, dried flowers should be replaced yearly, but with good care they often last longer. Even the best dried flowers gradually fade and should be discarded when they no longer produce the desired effect. Flowers that tend to fade may be lightly tinted with aerosol paints or dyes for more durable color. With care, the natural look is preserved.