How To Dry Flowers From Your Garden

How to Dry Flowers from Your Garden

Drying flowers is an excellent way to extend the life of your garden and therefore the fruits of your labor. As you form plans for spring blooms consider adding flowers you may want to keep preserved inside the house in craft projects, add to food or even use in cleaning products.

We share tips for drying flower including best methods, types of flowers to use and how to best preserve them.

Why Dry Flowers?

Advocates of drying flowers believe that they are able to achieve better results than what is available in stores for purchase. The number of things you can do with dried flowers is seemingly endless.

Edible dried flowers make excellent additions to teas, desserts and plated dishes. Dried lavender can be stitched into sachets to freshen up drawers.  Sprigs of dried flowers look elegant when tied to gifts or laid on top of towels in a guest room. Other uses include combining different colors, textures and scents in a bowl for potpourri, using flattened dried flowers on gift wrap and in frames, or simply dropping flower heads in a bath.

If you’ve recently been in a wedding or received a particularly special bouquet, it is easy to preserve the bundle as a special memory.

Best Time to Pick Flowers

Overall, it’s best to select flowers that are about to open as they’ll continue opening during the drying process and experience less petal loss. Pick flowers in the mid-morning after dew or irrigation water fully dries. Make the cut a clean one using sharp scissors or clippers and trim off any unnecessary foliage that may slow down drying time.

However, if your vision is to use flower petals in lieu of whole heads, it doesn’t matter if you pick flowers that are in bloom.

Best Flowers to Dry

A myriad of flower types are suitable for drying though most daisies and sunflowers (with the exception of African daisies and teddy bear sunflowers) do not handle the process well. Good options include armerias, asters, carnations, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas, lavenders, lilies, marigolds, peonies, roses, yarrows and most flowering herbs.

It’s wise to start with a range of flowers because some varieties may work better for you than others based on the health of your garden plants and drying process of choice.

Methods for Drying Flowers

Air Drying

This is by far the most common way to dry flowers. Grab a small bunch of flowers and tie the stems together using string, dental floss or a rubber band. Make sure that the tie is tight as the stems will shrink as the flowers dry. Use a paperclip or hook to hang the flowers upside-down in a dark, dry spot. They’ll need good air circulation to dry out and prevent mold from forming. The reason why they need to be kept hanging inverted is to prevent stems from bending during the process due to the weight of the flower heads. Definitely use this method should you want to place the bundles in vases for decoration. Keep in mind that flowers will change color and shrink as they dry.

If drying only flower heads, simply set them on a dry sheet of newspaper or mesh in a cool spot to begin the process.

Another method of air drying bouquets in vases includes simply letting water evaporate by a few inches (or dumping it out) and allowing the flowers to sit as is while drying in shape. You can remove any foliage or flowers that won’t take well to drying during the process.  Be sure not to leave the flowers sitting in the water for weeks on end before starting the drying process, otherwise you might be drying wilted flowers. Move the vase to a dry and cool spot. Flowers such as hydrangeas and baby’s breath are good choices for this method.

How long either process takes depends on the flowers and drying environment but a good range is between a few days to several weeks. You’ll know that the flowers are ready when they feel stiff and stems snap easily.

Pressed Flowers

Pressed flowers are an especially fun project for kids and can be used in a variety of craft projects including framed wall hangings. A fully-bloomed flower may lose petals in the process, but this might be preferred depending on the project. Simply place a flower between two sheets of paper. Then insert all in the middle of a heavy book. Weight the book down further and leave it be for several weeks. Craft stores also sell flower presses designed to simplify this process. The flowers should feel like paper when they are finished. We also have a guide for pressing flowers and leaves to use in crafts and home decor.

Microwave

If you need dried flowers in a jiffy, the microwave will yield them in about a day’s time (or less). Pick a flower that is just about to open as mature flowers are very likely to lose petals during this process. Place the flower in a microwave-safe container and cover it with either equal parts borax and cornmeal or silica sand (available at craft stores). Fill any crevices in the flower if necessary, such as the bowl of tulip-shaped flowers, so that the head retains its shape. Cook on high for about a minute and then check to see if the flower is dry. Large flowers with thick petals may take a bit longer. Allow the flower to cool in the bowl overnight before removing the silica sand or borax mix.

Alternatively, some people dry flowers in the microwave by covering them with a generous heap of cat litter and then microwaving for 2-3 minutes. Flowers should be ready after the cat litter is allowed to cool. Make sure that the flowers are zapped one by one to avoid overdoing it.

Preserving Dried Flowers

To keep dried flowers looking their best, keep them away from direct sunlight to prevent color from fading and heating vents which can cause dry petals to become brittle. Dust them carefully on occasion and store in wrapped in newspaper in a dry box when not in use.

Your Turn…

Do you dry flowers from the garden?