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Ashleigh Smith

Jun 6
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Pressed flower art
Written By Lara Wadsworth

Whether a flower has a special meaning, or you want to make a flower bouquet that can last all winter, flower preservation can be a useful skill to extend the enjoyment of cut flowers. Use it for gifts, crafts, decorations, or keepsakes!


Best Flower for Drying

While these flowers may be ranked as some of the best for drying, don't let that stop you from playing around with whatever flowers bring you joy. Designing and crafting with flowers is all about having fun and infusing to your personal space with what makes you happy. Celebrate the joy of growing flowers with the awesome Growing Happiness Annual Flower Collection by Roxana from @Soilandmargaritas.


Air Drying Methods

The two main air drying methods are hanging upside down and laying flat. Both require the least amount of tools and materials out of all the options. However, the color of the petals is not always best preserved this way, yet can sometimes provide a more rustic or antique look which can be equally desirable. Flowers with at least 6-inch stems tend to do best with air-drying preservation. It is important when using either method to dry in a dark place, as the sun can wash out the flowers quickly. Air drying takes a varied amount of time depending on the flower and bundle size. One to three weeks is typical. They are fully dried when the petals seem ‘frozen’ even when lightly jostled, and the stem feels dry and delicate.


hang dry flowers

Hanging

Hanging flowers upside down provides the best shape of dried bloom for flowers with a cupped or upward shape, such as roses and carnations. This is also an easy method of drying whole hydrangea flower clusters. To hang dry, remove any extra foliage along the stem and simply hang the flowers upside down with twine or string in a well-ventilated space. A small bunch of flowers may be tied together and hung. Do not overcrowd them; otherwise, they may not dry out properly.


Laying Flat

Air-drying flowers flat is best for blooms that have a naturally flatter habit, such as sunflowers and Gerber daisies. To air-dry a flower flat, remove any excess foliage along the stem and lay them individually on a towel or paper towel in a well-ventilated area. Do not disturb them during the drying process.

flat dried flowers

Pressing Method

Pressing flowers for preservation has been done for decades and works best with smaller or thinner blooms, such as individual hydrangea blossoms, daisies, or cosmos. This is best done with a large book or two. Place the flowers arranged how you want them to dry between two pieces of watercolor (or similarly absorbent) paper. Carefully place the sandwich of blooms in the middle of a large book or between two large books. The weight of the pages will flatten the blooms over time. This method usually takes 3-4 weeks to fully dry the flowers. Take extra care when checking the blooms for doneness, as premature movement can break or ruin delicate flowers. Extra large books such as dictionaries or encyclopedias work best! Alternatively, two boards that are able to be screwed together may also work.


Silica Gel Methods

Silica gel is most commonly known for being in those ‘Do Not Eat’ packets that sometimes come with new shoes or other merchandise. Their purpose in that setting is to absorb any excess water, and luckily for us, it can be used similarly to preserve flowers! This method is best if you need the bloom to retain a certain shape. However, it is more difficult to preserve a stem with the flower unless you get a lot of gel and a very large container. This is also the fastest method available to the floral hobbyist. You can purchase silica gel for drying flowers on Amazon or at many craft stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby.


silica dried flowers

Silica Time

Pour a layer of silica about 1 inch thick into the container of your choice. Choose a container that is big enough to hold all the blooms you want to preserve without getting the blooms closer than a half inch. The container must also be able to be lidded. Carefully place the blooms on top of the gel crystals. Most often, the stems are removed, and the flowers are placed as if floating in water. It is also possible to leave the stem on, but it is more difficult to control the shape of the flower, and it requires a larger container. Carefully pour in more silica to surround the flowers and shape them to your liking. Secure the lid to be airtight and leave the container in a cool, dry place for up to a week. Smaller flowers take as little as 2 days, but larger buds or flowers can take up to a week to dry. Carefully remove the flowers from the gel once they are fully dried, and remove any excess with a soft brush.

Silica Microwave

Smaller batches of flowers can be preserved in as little as 24 hours using silica gel and the microwave. Follow the directions for the Silica Time Method but ensure that whatever container you use is microwave safe and can easily fit inside your microwave. Put the container with the flowers in the microwave uncovered on high for 2-5 minutes, depending on the size and amount of flowers. Afterward, remove them from the microwave and cover them for an additional 5-10 minutes. Then, vent the container and place it in a dark, cool, and dry place for 24 hours. Carefully remove the flowers from the gel once they are fully dried, and clear off any excess with a soft brush.


Sand Method

The Sand Method is my least favorite because it can be difficult to carefully and fully remove all the sand from the flowers after they are dried. However, it is very easy, and if you already have some clean sand on hand, it is not a bad method. To dry flowers with sand, choose a container large enough to hold all your blooms without touching each other. First, pour a layer of sand about an inch thick into the bottom of the container. Arrange the flowers not to touch each other on top of the sand. Then, slowly and carefully pour more sand around and on top of the flowers to completely cover them. Leave the container in a cool, dark, and dry place for 2-4 weeks, depending on the size of the bloom. Afterward, carefully remove the sand with a very soft brush and a delicate hand.


Caring For Preserved Flowers

No matter which method you choose, preserved flowers need just a bit of maintenance to keep them in their prime. First, immediately after the drying process of your choice is completed, spray them down with hairspray. Refresh the hairspray every few weeks to keep them perky! Secondly, if they need to be dusted, use a very careful hand and a soft brush to remove any dirt or dust buildup. It is also important to keep in mind that preserved flowers may not last forever. They are delicate and still made of organic materials which will decay over time. Removing the water from them simply slows this process for us to enjoy them for about 1-4 years, depending on their surroundings. This time may be extended by additionally preserving your dried flowers in resin. Just be sure the flowers are completely dried. Otherwise, they will rot within the resin.

resin preserved flowers

Author Bio

Lara Wadsworth, True Leaf Market Writer

I am a native of Southwestern Michigan, where I also reside, and I love all things plants! I got a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture and found the first work-from-home job I could get. Now, I spend my days writing for TLM, playing with my dog, eating delicious food with my husband, and plotting my next landscape or gardening move. I believe everyone should get down and dirty in the soil now and then. Happy Gardening!

Become a True Leaf Market Brand Ambassador! You’ll enjoy awesome perks, free products and exclusive swag & offers! Help us create a gardening revolution and help others experience the joy of growing!

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