Monday, March 30, 2009

The A-B-C's of Drying Flowers

There are several different ways to dry flowers.

With soft flowers of fairly coarse textured blooms, such as Zinnia, Dahlia, Marigold and Aster, one popular technique for drying flowers is to immerse the flower in desiccant material. Silica gel, borax or even very dry sand of cornmeal can be used. If each petal and all the floral parts are very carefully surrounded with these granular materials, the moisture will be drawn out, leaving the flower's texture, form and color intact. A microwave oven can also be used for this purpose.

Some flowers with a thinner texture, such as Pansy,Blue Sage, Cornflower and Petunia can be pressed between blotters or newspapers until thoroughly dry. This method was pioneered by Linnaeus of Sweden 250 years ago. Amazingly, some of his specimens are still on exhibit in European museums today!

In another method, some hardy flowers, or parts of them, have a straw-like texture that keeps its shape when carefully dried in air, thus making for a very attractive winter floral arrangement.

Only experience will tell you when to pick the flowers when they are at their best for drying. A good rule of thumb is just before they are fully opened and matured. Generally, once the flowers are fully open, they will not keep for very long.

We find that the flowers should be cut on a dry day, keeping the stem as long as possible. Then remove the stem leaves, tie together in small bunches and hang upside down in a dry, well ventilated area out of direct sunlight. Seed heads of many flowers can be left on the plants until matured. Hang them in a similar fashion for further drying.

Here are some varieties that are suitable for drying:


  1. I have some amazing, huge globe artichokes and would love to dry them for flower arranging. Is it possible? If so, how can I do it?

  2. The National Gardening Association posted a story about Artichokes last May. Here's the link :

    If you scroll to the bottom, the author of the posting (Cathy Cromell) says she "lets them dry naturally on the plant, but not too long, as they lose some of their color. You can also let them start to dry, then cut them and finish drying in a cool, shady place. I just put them upright in a vase that allowed plenty of room. If you already have a drying area set-up for hanging upside down, no reason that wouldn't work!"

    Hope that helps & good luck!