The Ultimate Guide on How to Dry and Preserve Flowers – 7 Proven Methods

The Ultimate Guide on How to Dry and Preserve Flowers – 7 Proven Methods

You just picked some colorful flowers growing in your garden and wish to extend their natural beauty? You can! Drying flowers is easy to do anytime when blossoms are available. 

But how do you dry and preserve flowers? You can air-dry flowers, microwave, use sand, press flowers, use Epoxy resin, silica gel, or consider Glycerinizing. These 7 proven methods can suit different types of flowers and needs. 

Now, are you ready to dry some flowers to fill your home with dried bouquets or create gifts from your dried flower preservation? Keep reading for more info on each method.

How to Air Dry Flowers

Also known as hanging the bouquet upside down, air drying is best for entire bouquets or robust flowers which include:

  • Roses
  • Lavender
  • Strawflower
  • Baby’s breath
  • Statice
  • Celosia
  • Gomphrena
  • Artemisia
  • Globe amaranth
  • Liatris
  • Blackberry Lily
  • Chinese Lantern
  • Coreopsis
  • Yarrow
  • Thistle

You just need to follow these simple steps:

  • Strip excess foliage from flowers.
  • Cut stems to the desired length, but leave at least 6 inches.
  • Use a rubber band or twine to tie the stems together (if you have a bouquet).
  • Hang them upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Keeping the flowers out of direct sunlight will help them retain their color.
  • The drying process will take about two to three weeks.
  • Once dried, take down the flowers and spray them with unscented hairspray for protection.

How to Preserve Flowers in the Microwave

Another way to dry flowers is to use a microwave with the help of silica gel. The gel is reusable and used to help preserve the shape of the flowers. Individual flower blooms work best for microwave flower-drying technique. These flowers include:

  • Gerbera daisies
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Roses

This drying method helps preserve color and structure better than air drying. Without a microwave, it will take longer for silica gel to dry flowers. But it still works. Silica gel is available in large containers at craft stores and online.

Here are the steps you need to follow when preserving flowers in the microwave:

  • Remove the blooms from the stems.
  • Find a microwave-safe container that will fit into your microwave and hold your blooms. Make sure that this container will not be used for food after the drying process.
  • Cover the bottom of the container with an inch of silica gel (you may need a bit more for larger blossoms.)
  • Place flowers blossom up in the gel.
  • Gently pour more gel over the blooms so the petals do not get flattened.
  • Place the container, uncovered, into the microwave.
  • Temperature and time will vary according to the flower. Start the microwave on a low heat setting and let it run for 2 to 5 minutes. Check the flowers’ drying progress before you increase the heat or the time.
  • Once the flowers are dry, open the microwave and cover the container.
  • Remove the container from the microwave and open the top slightly to vent.
  • Let it sit for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, remove the gel from the petals with a soft brush.
  • Mist with acrylic spray for protection.

How to Preserve Flowers With Sand

Fine sand can be used to preserve flowers just like how silica gel does. Since sand is heavy, you can only use this preserving technique with hardy flowers and foliage. Here are the simple steps you can take:

  • Pour a half-inch layer of sand into a sturdy box.
  • Lay the flowers or foliage and stems on the sand.
  • Slowly pour sand around, under, and over each part of the flower — the flowers must be completely covered.
  • Allow two weeks for the flowers to dry, then remove the sand.

How to Press Flowers

Pressing flowers is super simple and quick. This time-honored method of preservation has been used by flower lovers and gardeners for centuries. It can be done in a few different ways depending on the materials on hand and how many flowers you want to preserve. If you press a lot of flowers or plan to do it more than occasionally,  consider investing in a flower press. Otherwise, you can just use a heavy book. Pressed flowers are perfect for adding to cards or for your own DIY botanical prints.

Plants ideal for pressing includes delicate flowers such as:

  • Ageratum
  • Butterfly weed
  • Coral bells
  • Heliotrope
  • Larkspur
  • Pansy
  • Ferns
  • Tree leaves 

Here are the general steps:

  • Remove any unwanted leaves. Or just remove the flowers and press the leaves separately.
  • Open the book about a quarter to halfway.
  • Place absorbent sheets of paper (such as watercolor sheet or cardstock) on the book’s pages.
  • Position the blooms face down on parchment paper and lay the parchment paper on top of the absorbent paper. Place another sheet of absorbent paper on top of the flowers. Carefully close the book.
  • Place more books on top of the book with the flowers.
  • Place the books in a safe place for 3 to 4 weeks.

How to Use Epoxy Resin to Preserve Flowers

Using epoxy resin to preserve flowers is recommended by most professionals. It can be a little tricky but it’s definitely worth the extra effort because of the stunning results. The tricky part is that you will have to work fast once the resin is activated. If you plan to use the preserved flowers for jewelry or other craft projects, this is the best method. 

Here are a few steps you need to follow:

  • You will first need to dry the flowers using the air drying or microwave method.
  • Cover your work surface with old newspapers or other protective covering.
  • Measure out equal amounts of the resin and catalyst into disposable measuring cups.
  • Make sure you mix enough for what you will need for one or two flowers as the epoxy resin sets quickly.
  • Pour the resin and catalyst into another disposable mixing cup and mix it according to the time recommended by the manufacturer.
  • You can either dip the flower into the epoxy or place the flower into a silicone form and then pour the epoxy in the form. If you choose to dip the flower, you will need to hold it for a few minutes so that the epoxy gets between the petals. Then, lift the blossom out of the epoxy and hang it over several layers of newspaper until it sets.
  • Epoxy typically sets in about 5 minutes.

Chemical Drying 

Chemical drying means using silica gel to dry flowers. Although expensive, silica gel can be reused many times. This method allows flowers to shrink less and hold their shapes and color better.

Flowers that work best with this method include:

  • African violet
  • Bleeding heart
  • Coneflower
  • Dahlia
  • Daylily
  • Iris
  • Lily
  • Peony
  • Snapdragon
  • Zinnia

 These are the steps to follow:

  • Leave plants and flowers in the mixture in an airtight container for several days to a week, depending on the flower. 
  • For faster results, silica gel can be used in the microwave in an uncovered, glass container. Times vary from one minute for smaller, thinner flowers to three minutes for thicker-petaled flowers. 
  • When dried, remove from the microwave, but leave in the silica gel for 12 to 24 hours. 

To make your own less expensive mixture, combine equal parts of borax and white cornmeal. With this mixture, do not cover, but allow to air dry for one to three weeks. 

Glycerinizing 

The glycerin mixture is made with one-part glycerin to two parts warm water in a glass jar. This method is to preserve stems and leaves for your arrangements. Crush the lower 4 inches of the stems and place in the glycerin mixture. Mark the level of liquid on the glass and, as the liquid is absorbed, replace it with a reserved mixture of one-part glycerin to four-parts water. During this process, the color of the leaves will gradually change. It may take one to three weeks for your branches to glycerine. 

Additional Ideas on How to Preserve Flowers  

If you still find it hard to choose which method to use, we have compiled a list of suggestions on ways to preserve your dried flowers. 

  • Create an infinity bouquet for an anniversary or wedding party.
  • Combine dried flowers and essential oils to make potpourri.
  • Use meaningful blooms and other items to assemble a shadow box.
  • Press an individual flower in a glass bead to create a one-of-a-kind necklace. 
  • Celebrate the holidays with ornaments made from dried flowers, resin, and glitter.
  • Add a touch of romance to your decor with decorative jars filled with dried flowers.
  • Make your door welcoming by incorporating dried flowers into a seasonal wreath.
  • Frame pressed flowers with a handwritten note or favorite poem for some meaningful wall art.
  • Dip flowers in wax for an everlasting table centerpiece you won’t have to replace.
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