Drying flowers is an inexpensive way to achieve a beautiful arrangement of flowers that would normally cost you approximately $35-$50 dollars in a retail or craft store. The process is really quite simple, and you can customize your own dried flower arrangements with the sorts of flowers that are pleasing to you. Dried flowers make excellent centerpieces, gifts, and bridal bouquets and wedding gift bouquets; the bride will get to save her bouquet forever if the arrangement is dried, and the wedding party will have a bouquet that will also last forever.
The technique is simple. First of all gather the flowers to be dried. The best flowers for drying are wildflowers, Roses, Lavender, Larkspur, Dahlias, Geraniums, Marigolds, and just about any flower that has a seed head (Poppy seed heads for example). However, experiment with different varieties of flowers, you may get a wonderful surprise.
I have always gone into my garden (and sometimes along the roadside where there are multitudes of beautiful flowers), and snipped the flowers right as they are about to bloom. Cut the flower so that quite a bit of the stem is intact. Cut more flowers than you think you will need, because some of the flowers will not survive the drying process, and will come out rather hideous looking. Remove all foliage from the flowers. If you like, you can also save pods, berries, and small branches from the flowers as they make a nice addition to the dried flower arrangement. The pods, berries and branches can be dried in a small bowl.
Next, take 4-5 of flowers and their stems and place them in a paper bag with salt. Give the bag a few shakes, and remove the flowers and stems. The salt will help the flower to keep its color. Lay the flowers outside (if it is hot and dry) for a day or so, as they must be completely dry before you hang them in a dry place. If it is raining, or not very hot, then you can place the flowers on a table in an attic, or in a room that is without a fan or air-conditioning, and the room should be void of dust and sunlight.
Next arrange your flowers into bunches of 5-10 (depending on the size of the flowers). At the very bottom of the stem, bind the flowers into a makeshift bouquet and tie loosely with string. Don’t tie the stems too tight, or use rubber bands, as this will cut into the stem and the flower will begin to decay and discolor too quickly.
You will need a room that does not have dust or direct sunlight. For this purpose, I have always used my attic. Attics are great places, as they tend to be dark, dust-free. and dry. Don’t use a basement, as they tend to be damp and humid. You can also use an unused, empty closet.
In an attic, you will usually have overhead beams. On the beams, you can hammer nails directly into the beams, and hang the flowers upside down by the string. If you need to use an empty closet, you can hang the flowers from old hangers, or stick-on hooks attached to the walls within the closet. Hanging the flowers upside down will allow the flowers to take on a life of their own; they may curl in unusual shapes, and develop unique winding curves.
Depending on the type of flower, air-drying can take up to 4-6 weeks. You’ll know when the flower has completely dried because the stems will be brown, and the flower petals will have closed, and display a hue of it’s former color. The flowers will also have a crunchy feel to them.
Once the flowers are dried, you have a variety of choices. You can make your own flower arrangements, by placing the flowers in vases of colored glass. You may also tie them together with a pretty ribbon and display them on the wall. Giving bouquets of dried flowers is a beautiful gesture, as the flowers will never rot or die.
Some people like to keep collections of dried flowers in baskets placed on top of a mantle piece, or on the hearth near a fireplace. These are lovely presentations, however, take caution if you have pets because some of the flowers, even dried can be poisonous to some pets. Check with your veterinarian.
Experiment with different sorts of flowers, as some flowers seem to dry better than others, and in some climates, particular flowers can be successfully dried, where as in other climates, the chore is impossible. Be creative, and have fun!Experiment with different