Blooming flowers make the summer sing, but how can we keep the song going all year? Drying or pressing flowers is a great way to preserve their beauty with a vintage feel. Use them in potpourri, bouquets, wreaths, or whatever else inspires you!
Of the many ways to dry flowers, air-drying is the simplest way. Gather flower stems in small bunches—about ½–1 inch thick—and wrap them tightly with a rubber band. Stems will shrink; so make sure the rubber band is tight. Open up a paper clip so it looks like two hooks. Hook one end with the rubber band and another onto a suspended string. When hanging, the flower heads should not be leaning against anything or touching each other, as this will cause the stems to bend. To preserve the flower’s color, put them in a dark room or anywhere else out of direct sunlight during the drying process. Drying times will vary depending on the flower, the humidity of the room, and level of air circulation. Most flowers dry within 10–20 days.
Drying with Silica Gel
Silica Gel isn’t really gel at all. It’s actually an absorbent and porous mineral in solid bead form and can be found at most craft stores. Pour a 1 ½-inch layer of silica gel in the bottom of a plastic box (choose a box that has a cover). Set the flower heads face up in the gel and gently cover the petals with more silica gel. Cover the box tightly and let it sit for 3 to 5 days. Simply shake off the silica gel when flowers feel crisp.
Using the oven is a creative way to dry flowers within 24 hours. Set the oven to its lowest setting or about 100º–180ºF. Arrange flowers on a dry cookie sheet and place in the oven. Keep the oven door slightly open so the air continues to circulate. You’ll leave the flowers in the oven for several hours, so this is a good project for a lazy Sunday afternoon. After the stems start to feel stiff, take them out of the oven and leave them on the counter overnight.
Pressing flowers is very simple but does take the longest time. Gather the flowers you want to press, cardboard, newspaper, parchment paper, and a heavy book, brick, or rock. Set out the cardboard and cover it with newspaper, and then cover the newspaper with parchment paper. Lay the flowers on top of the parchment paper. If you are pressing more than one flower in this layer, make sure they don’t touch. Cover the flowers with parchment paper, then newspaper, and finally more cardboard. If you have more flowers to press, continue the layering. When you are finished, top the stack with a heavy book, brick, or rock for about 2–4 weeks.
The Best Flowers to Preserve
Below are only a few of the flowers that preserve best. Plan to sow these beauties in your spring garden for late summer drying or pressing.