This is the second post in a series about dried or everlasting flowers. Check out the first post about what flowers I grow on the farm for drying.
In an effort to extend the beauty of some of the flowers on the farm, I dry them. Dried flowers, while not as vibrant, continue to reflect the beauty of the flower with texture and color. If taken care of properly, a dried flower arrangement can last for a very long time. Keep your dried flowers out of direct sunlight, and protect them from humidity and exposure to wind and rain. Dried flowers can be stored in a box when not in use and brought out seasonally to enjoy.
The easiest way to dry flowers is to bunch them together and hang them upside down. Before bunching the flowers, make sure to remove all the foliage. I bunch flowers with rubber bands and hang them from curtain rods in my dining room in batches. Make sure not to make the bunches too big as the stems in the middle may not dry out completely. An S-hook slips into the rubber band on one side and over the rod on the other to hold the bunch. The benefit of using my dining room is that it does not receive direct light and allows the flowers to dry in a temperature controlled environment. This method works well with most of the flowers that I grow specifically to dry. You can hang bunched flowers from string, nails, hooks, or rods. It is easily adaptable to your environment. Once the flowers are dried, I place them in cardboard boxes to store for use in arrangements.
Another method for drying flowers is to pick them at the right stage and let them dry out in a vase upright. This method works best for hydrangeas. Cut the flowers when the petals have begun to mature. Strip off the foliage and place the stems in a vase without water. The flowers will dry upright and last for a long time.
A third method to dry flowers is to use silica gel. Silica gel works as a desiccant and removes moisture from the flower, drying it out. The gel is actually small white and blue granules that absorb moisture and turn pink. Silica gel works best to dry out larger flowers like dahlias, peonies, roses, and daffodils. This method should be used with gloves and a mask. You will need the silica gel, an airtight container, the flowers for drying, and the aforementioned gloves and mask. Place a half inch of silica gel on the bottom of the airtight container. Gently push your flower into the silica gel so that the petals are surrounded by gel. Begin to sprinkle silica gel around the flower, carefully filling the spaces around the petals until the flower is covered. Put the lid on the container, and store it in a dry place. Flowers can take up to a week to dry in silica gel. Check on the flowers after 2 days by gently pushing back the gel.
Remember that dried flowers can be brittle and need to be handled with care. I like to save flowers that break off their stem for use in jewelry or small arrangements.
My friend Margery has been drying dahlia petals in silica gel. You can see the side by side comparison between the fresh petals and dried petals.
If you are starting out, the easiest method for drying flowers is to hang them upside down. Try drying your favorite flowers from a bouquet or from your yard. Next week, we will begin to cover different ways to use your dried flowers.
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