Rather than tossing out a bunch of pre-loved flowers, why not dry them? From a classic table arrangement to a wedding bouquet, drying your flowers is a great way to preserve them. Whether you want to turn this into a keepsake or use it to add texture to an existing display, the choice is up to you. To find out all you need to know about drying flowers, read our article below.
Why do people dry flowers?
Since Ancient Egypt, people have dried flowers for an array of different purposes. During this period, dried flowers were used to create cosmetics and perfumes for royal and religious ceremonies. Such fragrant properties continued to be a hit during the Middle Ages, as nurses would use dried flowers to minimise bad smells, as well as repel diseases.
As the 16th century rolled around, dried flowers also started to be used for their beautiful aesthetic. Referred to as Oshibana, the Japanese began creating artwork from assortments of dried flowers. As this process took time, many used it as a form of meditation or to test their concentration. At this time, people in the UK were also becoming fascinated by the appearance of dried flowers. As a result, they were being used to decorate fans, gloves, and jewels.
Nowadays, people continue to use dried flowers for their fragrance and aesthetic. In addition to the historic purposes mentioned above, typical uses include:
- Placing dried flowers in a vase to create a textured centrepiece.
- Filling mesh bags with dried flowers to create aroma sachets. These can be placed in wardrobes or dresser drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh.
- Adding dried flowers to DIY cleaning products to enhance their smell.
- Adding dried flowers scrapbooking pages and cards.
- Adding edible dried flowers to cooking.
- Combining dried flowers with spices in a decorative bowl to create a potpourri.
- Placing dried flowers in a decorative frame.
- Using dried flowers to create a natural dye.
- Adding dried flowers to bath water or DIY face masks.
What are the best flowers to dry?
When deciding what flowers to dry, it’s best to pick varieties that hold their petals tightly and have a small calyx. You might be thinking, "What on earth is a calyx?". Don't worry, this word simply refers to the little green leaves that are at the base of the flower bud. Such leaves protect the unopened bud.
Some of the best flowers to dry are:
- Baby’s breath
- Globe thistle
When it comes to using dried flowers for cooking purposes, it’s essential to choose edible varieties that have been organically grown.
Some of the best edible flowers to dry include:
Can I dry flowers in a book?
One of the most popular ways to dry individual flowers is by pressing them in a book. To do so, you’ll need to follow the below steps.
- Place your flower between two pieces of blotting paper, before putting it between the pages of a book. If it’s a large book you may be able to press a few flowers at the same time using different pages - just make sure to space them out carefully.
- Once your book is closed, stack several other books, or any form of weight (such as a brick) on top.
- Every few days, it’s best to change the paper using a tweezer to remove the flower gently. After the flower has been in the book for two to three weeks, it should be completely dry.
Keep in mind that naturally flat flowers are easier to press. Therefore, if you want to press a thicker flower like a rose or orchid, it’s usually best to split it down the middle with a knife or scissors.
Can I air dry flowers?
If you don’t want to split your rose or want to dry an entire bouquet, you should consider air drying. To do so, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Remove any excess foliage from your flowers and cut stems to the desired length - ideally no shorter than 15cm.
- If you’re hanging them as a bunch, tie them together with a rubber band.
- Pick a dry, dark spot to hang your flowers, such as an empty wardrobe. Then use unflavoured dental floss to tie the flower stems to a hanger upside where they will be left to dry.
- After two to three weeks, your flowers will be dried, ready to be removed.
Can I dry flowers in the oven?
If you don’t have space to hang your flowers, your oven might be the next best option. To do so, you’ll need to follow the steps below.
- Set your oven to around 38 degrees celsius and leave the door slightly open to release any lingering moisture.
- Place your flowers on a baking tray and pop them in the oven. Make sure to keep a close eye on them as they start to dry and turn them every fifteen minutes until you achieve your desired look. This process can take anywhere from several minutes to a few hours.
- Once the flowers look brittle and crisp, remove them from the oven.
Can I dry flowers in the microwave?
To use this method, you will need to purchase silica gel - the same substance that’s inside those small white sachets in any newly bought accessories. This gel is designed to absorb the moisture in the air, therefore it helps to preserve the shape of the flower.
Once you have purchased the gel, you can begin the below process.
- Grab a microwave-safe container to place your flowers in. You’ll need to have a container dedicated specifically to this process - so don’t pick one that you want to use for food in the future.
- Cover the bottom of your container with 3cm-5cm of silica gel. Then place your flowers blossom-up inside the container and gently pour more gel over the petals.
- Pop the container in the microwave without covering it. Keep in mind that different flowers require different durations, so it’s a bit of a trial and error process. Generally, varieties such as roses can handle more heat, while daisies often only need need to be in the microwave for a short amount of time. To be safe, start with 2-3 minutes on a light defrost setting and keep checking on it.
- Once the flowers look dry, quickly put the lid on top. Take the container out of the microwave and store it in a dark place with the lid cracked open slightly (around 0.25cm).
- After 24 hours, grab a fine brush to clean the gel from the petals.
Can I use an iron to dry flowers?
Ironing your flowers is another way to dry them quickly. To do so, you’ll need to:
- Place your flower in between two pieces of blotting paper, then flatten with a heavy book.
- Heat the iron on low with no water inside - as you don’t want to add additional moisture.
- Once the iron is warm, press it on the top layer of paper and hold it still for around 15 seconds. Continue to repeat this process until your flower appears dry.
What should I keep in mind when drying flowers?
No matter what method you choose to use, it’s important that you don’t wait until your flowers start to wilt before you dry them. Instead, it’s best to begin the process when they’re still in a semi-fresh state. To keep your arrangement as fresh as possible before drying, read our article, “Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Flowers Fresh”.
If you’re picking flowers fresh from your garden, cut them in the morning before the dew has evaporated. Doing so will help them stay fresher for longer.
What should I keep in mind when drying wedding flowers?
A wedding bouquet is easily one of the most significant flower arrangements in any person's life. Therefore, it makes sense why many people want to hold onto it as long as possible.
As many couples head to their honeymoon soon after the wedding, finding the time to dry their flowers isn't always easy. The best way to preserve the flowers might be to ask a bridesmaid or relative to help with the drying process or to get a professional such as Treasured Flowers to do it for you.
To keep it simple, brides will often pick several blooms from their bridal bouquet and use the book pressing method mentioned earlier. For those brides who want to keep their entire bouquet, silica gel will once again come in handy. Only, this time, instead of placing it in the microwave, you will need to fill the container with the gel and place the bouquet inside with the lid closed and store in a cool place. Both of these methods are also very easy for someone else to do on your behalf - you can even have the gel-filled container ready to go on your wedding day.
For those couples not jetting off immediately, you could decide to display your bouquet in a vase at home. All you need to do is place the bouquet in a vase filled with about 10cm of water. Once the water evaporates, the flowers will dry in an upright position. Keep in mind, that this method generally works best if the flowers have thicker stems - such as baby's breath or hydrangeas.
You may also want to check out our article, “The Ultimate Guide to Buying Flowers For Your Wedding”.
How do I care for dried flowers?
Dried flowers can last up to ten years or more. To help your dried flowers last as long as possible you should keep in mind the below tips.
- Once you’ve dried your flowers, it’s best to spray them with acrylic spray or hair spray to help preserve them for as long as possible.
- Dried flowers can fade quickly if they’re in direct sunlight. Therefore, it’s usually best to place them in colder areas away from any windows.
- When storing your dried flowers, you’ll want to keep them in tightly sealed containers to avoid moisture getting to them.
It’s pretty clear that dry flowers are a great way to go. Whether you’re preserving the life of a bouquet or are cutting flowers fresh from the garden, you'll be spoilt for choice when deciding how to dry them and what you want to do with them.
If you need additional help drying your flowers see us in-store at 28 Ethel St, Sandringham, Auckland or call us on 09 357 6161.