Drying and Preserving Flowers

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Drying and Preserving Flowers

Not so long ago, lovers didn’t have fresh bouquets to give in every season. Suitors, instead, picked posies in summer, and these fragile mementos were then pressed into books or hung and dried.

I don’t know about you, but I would do nearly anything to make the garden last, and there are certain flowers at their most beautiful when dried.

Most flowers dry well. You should pick them before they are fully open for the best results. Of course, in my world, I can’t always time things perfectly, and I picked these flowers, grasses and seedheads this morning. Within thirty minutes, I had them bundled and hanging upside down.

Some flowers, like statice and strawflowers--often called “everlastings”--feel nearly dry when you cut the stem. They are excellent choices for arrangements. Alliums, after bloom, have marvelous form. Spray painted in silver or gold, they resemble sparklers.

Wildflowers, with their airy, dried seedheads and lack of heavy foliage easily lend themselves to drying. Queen Anne’s lace, Daucus carota, is one of the best.
The following is a list of plants I grow in my garden which can be dried. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and there are many other plants suitable for drying too.

Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht' May Night and S. farinacea ‘Victoria.’

Helichrysum bracteatum, strawflower

Limonium sinuatum, statice

Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower

Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky,’ shasta daisy

Artemisia, most of the species

Lavandula angustifolia, lavender

Consolida ambigua, rocket larkspur--can be invasive in some parts of the U.S.

Achillea millefolium, common yarrow

Gomphrena globosa, globe amaranth--can be invasive in some parts of the U.S.

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Don’t limit yourself only to flowers though. Grasses and seedheads add structure and airiness to dried flower arrangements so give them a try.

Air drying plants is very easy. You will need shears and rubber bands. First, go exploring in your garden or out into the countryside where you’ll find plenty of flowers, seeds and stems to take indoors.

Fiskars-Red-Bouquet

Strip most leaves from the stems and rubber band flowers in bunches of eight or ten. Use rubber bands instead of string because bands will hold stems tight as they shrink and dry. For larger flowers like hydrangeas, tie fewer in a bunch. High-moisture flowers such as roses don’t air dry well, but you can use silica gel. Silica is available at most hobby stores and online. Because silica is a drying agent, wear plastic gloves to protect your hands.

Once the flowers are tied into bundles, hang them upside down in a dry portion of your home. Humidity and indoor temperatures affect drying times, but you can gently touch the flowers and know they are dry.

Once dried, flowers can become beautiful arrangements, wreaths or even a bouquet for those you love. Your imagination is the key to indoor beauty all winter long.