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How to dry flowers?

This is a question we are asked so often at this this time of the year, that we thought it would be good to spend a page on our web site on this subject.

First it is good to know that not all flowers can be dried. Some flowers contain too much moisture and even drying in silicagel will not work. Let me first discuss the different ways of drying:flowers:

Air drying.

Like the name says: its a way of letting the air dry the flowers and stems. Flowers are picked, often when they are in full bloom, stripped of the leaves, tied in bunches with rubber bands (this is because the stems shrink) and hung to dry in an airy dry location away from the sun.

Drying in a drying agent.

Most well known is silica gel, but also clean dry sand can be used. I have heard that a fine kitty-litter works well and one can also make a mixture of cornmeal and borax with some salt added to it. Usually just the flower heads are dried This way, because one will need too large a container to dry out the stems also.

Usually an airtight container is used, the flower heads are place in the drying mixture face up, and very carefully covered with the mixture. The container must be kept closed during the drying process. After 4-14 days, depending on the thickness of the flower, the flower will be dry.

It's good to experiment drying flowers this way. I have heard people getting real good results with different kinds of flowers.

Freeze drying. 

For this method we will need a freeze drying machine. Usually only larger companies have this equipment, since the high cost. (Prices start at $15.000.)-Taxidermist use this equipment. It's understandable that the cost is often over $20.- per " length of fish.

Many different flowers, fruits and vegetables can be dried this way.

Preserving flowers

Preserving flowers and greens with a mixture of glycerin (1/3) and water (2/3). Eucalyptus, Cedar and other evergreens are preserved this way. Fresh cut stems are placed in the preserving solution and the plant will soak up the solution replacing the water with glycerin what keeps the plant pliable.The greenery will turn a bronze color, that's why when materials are preserved commercially, a dye is added to the glycerin mixture.

Most common flowers that be air dried:  
Yarrow, pick in full bloom
Delphinium, pick just before in full bloom
Echinops, pick when flower heads have reached the desired color, but before
Liatris pick just before in full bloom
Lavender, pick when flower heads have reached the desired color
Grasses: pick just before in full bloom

Hydrangea. The flowers of the Hydrangea need to mature on the bush. This will take about 6 weeks or more.
When you think the flowers are ready, try just a few to check. Over night you can see if the flower will dry well. If they shrinkup, it's too early, then wait a while longer.

General rule for determining the right picking time:

When the flower has an unusual thick stem in comparison to the flower head, flowers might develop more during the first days when drying.  Straw flowers need to be picked before  the flower has fully opened, otherwise they will open too much.

Drying Flowers Over the Dryer

Hang your flower or flowers over your dryer for just a few days while doing laundry. This allows the flowers to not only dry out, but keeps them from becoming brittle.

Dry Flowers in the Microwave

Take a packet of silica gel (comes in shoe boxes). Place flower in microwave with gel sprinkled on it (three flowers per packet) and microwave for 2 minutes.




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