The Art of Drying, Preserving, and Pressing Flowers

The fragrant bouquet of a floral arrangement is more than just eye-catching.  The color and scent have proven through research to elevate one’s mood, reduce stress, and encourage healing.  While the initial sight of a bouquet has intrinsic rewards, dried flowers remain beautiful without the need to change water.  While you garden to promote blooms and plant health, a particular selection of flowers can be forever yours through the art of preservation.

The Right Flower

Seeking a flower that is easy to grow, a perennial, with the added benefit that it dries well?  Then start planting the following flowers.  Many of them serve more than one purpose, the coneflower and lavender, for instance, can be used for medicinal purposes. Flowers which contain a high-water content do not dry with favorable results. Consider adding wildflowers found along the roadside such as tansy, wild oregano, flat-topped Goldenrod, and sea lavender.  These and many more can offer a beautiful addition to your collection.  It is important to cut your flowers right after the morning dew has disappeared.  Select only those flowers that have buds ready to open, before the peak of the bloom. In the drying process, these flowers will open.

Chose from the following list: 

Amaranth, ammobium, anaphalis, anise hyssop, artemisia, astilbe, baby’s breath, bachelor’s buttons, celosia, coneflower, globe amaranth, globe thistle, hydrangea, lady’s mantle, larkspur, lavender,  love-in-a-mist, marjoram, mealy cup sage, pearly everlasting, pompom dahlias, poppy, roses, sea holly, sunflowers, starflowers, statice, strawflower, and yarrow.

Traditional Preservation 

One traditional method is to gather the flowers upside down in one hand, remove the foliage from the stems, and secure the bunch with a strong tie such as a rubber band.  It is recommended to group small bunches together.  As stems dry and shrink, the risk of individual flowers falling to the floor can occur.  One successful location to hang flowers is in a well-ventilated, dry location out of direct sunlight, such as an empty closet, basement, attic, or a dark garage. Petals will begin to shrink and change color. For up to three weeks, you will have a beautiful selection of vintage hues.

Silica Gel Preservation 

If you don’t want to wait a few weeks for flowers to dry or limit yourself to the type of flower, another option is to use silica gel or a mixture of one-part Borax to two parts cornmeal.  This process requires the flowers to be immersed in the sandy substance up to the stems or laid on their sides in an air-tight container.  The result is vibrant, and well-preserved flowers.

Pro:  Silica gel can be reused if placed in an air-tight container.

Press to Preserve

Pressed flowers evoke a remembrance of a special occasion or simply a stunning bloom.  Hidden in a book, the moment in time becomes both personal and secret.

Flowers that lay flat such as the African daisy and tickseed may be the easiest forms to press; however, pressing is not limited to just one specific shape.  Ageratum has a number of flowers in one stem, and blue salvia is cylindrical in shape. Succulents and cacti can also be an option for pressing.

Other types of flowers are: alstroemerias, baby’s breath, bleeding hearts, bluebells, buttercups, daisies, ferns (and various types of leaves such as strawberry leaves, ivy, mint, lavender, and garden sage), geraniums, larkspur, lilies, lily of the valley, pansies, roses, violets

Tip:  Remove the stamens to eliminate a stain of pollen

The first step is to blow air inside a sealable bag; then, seal the flowers and refrigerate.   In preparing the flowers to be pressed, think how you wish the flowers to appear. Consider overlapping for artistic effect.  One of the most traditional methods is to place the flower between two sheets of paper to protect the pages of a book, and weigh the book down (usually with more piled on books) for a few weeks.

With a bouquet of dried flowers in a vase or framed, you can promote happiness, friendliness, and warmth anywhere in the house where the color and fragrance can be enjoyed by everyone!



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