Preserve your beautiful blooms by properly drying them. Here are all the tips you need from the experts at The New York Botanical Garden.
Cut and DryDrying flowers is a wonderful way to preserve the beauty of your garden. For most people, dried flowers conjure up images of lavender, strawflowers, and statice. There is, however, a wide range of flowers that can be successfully dried.
Simple SolutionStep 1: Use a pair of flower shears to help you harvest your flowers without crushing their stems.
Bundle and BandStep 2: Bundle several stems together. Take a rubber band and slide it over 2 to 3 stems. Coil the rubber band several times around the entire bundle of stems, sliding it over 2 to 3 more stems toward the end of the bunch. The rubber band will look as if you twisted a wire around the stems. As the stems dry, the rubber band will accommodate shrinkage.
Hook and HangStep 3: Take a paper clip and pull it apart to create an S-shape. Hook one end to the coiled rubber band on your bunch of flowers, and attach the other end to a coat hanger.
Hang the coat hanger in a warm, dry closet or attic until the flowers are dry. The drying time -- anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks -- will depend on the thickness of the flowers' stems, humidity, size of the bundle, and air temperature.
Thicker StemsThick-stemmed flowers, such as hydrangea, should be placed in a can or jar and dried standing upright. The stems will not be as straight as flowers dried by the hanging method, but this may soften the look of your dried flower arrangement.
Fragile BloomsThe air drying process often shrivels large and fragile blooms beyond recognition. Roses, peonies, dahlias, sunflowers, lilacs, zinnias, hyacinths, and daffodils fare much better when dried with a desiccant (a drying agent).
Silica gel is the one of the easiest and most reliable desiccants to use. It is actually not a gel and looks like white sand with blue crystals. Once the gel has reached its saturation point, the crystals turn pink.
Drying Fragile FlowersStep 1: Place 1 inch of silica gel in the empty container. Place the different plant parts in the container so that they do not touch each other or the edge of the container.
Note: For hyacinths, lilacs, and daffodils, you will be drying the entire plant intact. For other flowers, separate the flower from the stem, leaving 1/8 inch of the stem attached. In some cases -- for example, peonies -- you will have to separate the foliage from the stem as well.
The Reconstruction ProcessStep 2: Spray dried flowers outdoors with a surface sealer to prevent them from rehydrating or falling apart.
Step 3: Place flowers on a sheet of wax paper until they dry.
Step 4: Reattach the flowers and stems with floral wire and floral tape or a hot glue gun. Reconstructing the flower can be a complicated process. Another simple option is to create a stem out of floral wire and floral tape. (Place the floral wire 1/4 inch into the flower and wrap with green floral tape.) Otherwise, the stem and leaves can be reattached with floral tape or hot glue.
Drying SuppliesMost of the supplies used to dry flowers can be found in your local crafts store.
Silica gel is expensive; a more economical alternative is 40% borax and 60% white cornmeal. This recipe takes longer to dry the flowers, so leave them in the container for 2 weeks.