Preserving Your Prize Flowers

Bonnie Nowicki

Fellow Quail Creek neighbors, this month I wish to focus on the delightful process of drying flowers. During the 1970s and ’80s, this was a popular means of enjoying flowers long-term. In those bygone days, I crafted small floral arrangements on pieces of driftwood, on a unique rock, or on a seashell. It’s a satisfying creative process.

To maximize their shelf life and reduce petal loss, pick well-hydrated flowers early in the day before they get dried out from the sun. Cut flowers when the blooms first open or are not quite in full bloom because some will open more when placed in the drying medium. Target choice flowers in healthy, good, quality condition, with no insect holes or wilting. Remove leaves from the stems and tie with twine.

Air drying is the most traditional method. Just tie a bundle (two or three stems) and hang upside down for two to four weeks in a room or garage away from moisture or sunlight. These dried flowers are great for table centerpieces or gift-giving. Hydrangeas, lavender, celosia, and strawflowers work well for air drying.

Using silica gel (granular-desiccant) or kitty litter, you submerge flowers in a container and let them sit for a few weeks. Do not overlap the specimens. The end product should feel brittle and papery. Use a soft brush to remove the silica when the flowers are ready. A quicker way to see results in days is to microwave flowers in a bowl of silica gel or kitty litter. This method is best for smaller plants and flower heads. But large, dense flowers like roses, tulips, and zinnias can withstand the heat of the microwave and dry nicely.

Pressing flowers or ferns using a heavy book or flat objects to squeeze out the moisture is another way to preserve your favorite flowers. This is ideal for crafts, artwork or stationery. Use parchment or wax paper to sandwich flowers between and let them sit for a few weeks in a warm, dark spot. Daisies, pansies, and violas are lovely for pressing.

So, gardening friends, take the plunge. Pick your favorite flower and preserve it to enjoy in the cooler months here in Green Valley.