Flower drying has been around for many generations and there is a good reason why. When done properly, dried flowers preserve beautifully, and depending on the flower being dried, can almost resemble their fresh versions of themselves.
There are so many reasons why people may want to dry out flowers, and depending on which types of flowers you want to preserve and what use you will have for your dried flowers, you may opt for a different preservation method.
You may want to dry your flowers to make scrapbooking paper with them. For this project, you will want to preserve their color properly but will need them to be flat, so you may want to press dry the flowers in an acid free paper book for several weeks or in a flower press for several days.
If you need dried flowers quickly for this project, you may even try a microwave press dryer.
There are many flower drying options to consider, based on the look you want and the time you want it in.
Today, we are going to share how to dry flowers using many different methods, and discuss why you may consider one method over another depending on what you want to do with your dried flowers.
Let's get into it.
How To Dry Flowers Out
Let's first look at why people may want to dry preserve flowers. Some of the reasons include:
Preserving a special bouquet or flower (wedding bouquet, special single flowers, etc)
Drying edible flowers (for cakes, cupcakes, batters)
Drying flowers for craft projects (epoxy resin, DIY jewelry scrapbooking paper, stationery, homemade paper projects)
For photo frames and art (preserving memories or home décor)
For homemade potpourri
For dried flower bouquets
There are so many more reasons you may want dried flowers around your house!
How To Choose Which Flowers To Dry
You can dry almost any flower, but there are flowers that are easy to dry and flowers that are more difficult due to their delicate petals or their tendency to fall apart quickly. You will want to start by choosing fresh flowers that are at their optimal bloom no matter which drying method you choose.
Selecting flowers to dry that are past their bloom time may result in parts of the flower already dying and this may not yield that perfect color you were hoping for.
Which Flowers Dry Best?
Here is a list of flowers that dry really well with many different drying methods:
dandelions (if picked as soon as they bloom)
Which Flowers Are More Difficult To Dry?
Flowers with delicate petals are a bit harder to dry, but that certainly doesn't mean don't try them. Lillies, sunflowers, petunias, impatients and sweet peas can be a bit harder to dry.
Lillies because their petals really fall off once they are dried, and sunflowers have such a dichotomy between their robust centers and their soft yellow petals.
Petunias, impatients and sweet peas all have very soft, fragile and thin petals. Try just squeezing them between your fingers, you will see that they become translucent and very easily come apart. If you do try drying one of these delicate flowers with success, please be sure to bookmark this page and come back to let us know which method worked for which flower! We would love to share your results.
How To Dry Flowers
There are several ways to dry flowers. These include:
The microwave drying method
Air drying flowers upside down
The silica gel drying method
Pressing flowers in a flower press or book
Using a dehydrator to dry flowers
Freeze drying flowers
We will talk about each method above: how to dry with that method and why you would want to consider drying flowers that way.
1. How To Microwave Dry Flowers
You may want to try drying flowers out in the microwave if you want them dried quickly for a project, or if you get a rush custom order for something you create.
Not only can you use one to dry your flowers out, but you can also microwave dry your herbs as well!
This can happen with custom dried flower resin pendants (and if this is something you do often for your business or for craft projects, you may want to consider getting a separate microwave for your craft room for your dried flowers, leaves and herbs).
To microwave dry your flowers out here is what to do:
- Pick fresh flowers to dry and place them into a folded piece of white paper (acid free is best). Think of printer paper and you are making a card with flowers inside.
- Line your folded paper card with another folded paper, but this time use a paper towel.
- Place them on a microwave safe dish or a microwave safe container.
- Place something heavy on top, like another plate, or something that can apply an adequate amount of weight that is also microwave safe.
- Turn your microwave on for 30 seconds and check your flowers. Keep going for 15-30 second intervals and check. You will want to dry your flowers out, but not cook them. It may take a few tries to get them perfect using this method.
If you like the ease of how quickly you can dry out flat flowers in the microwave, you may want to consider purchasing a Microfleur, which is a ceramic plate system made specifically to perfectly dry out your flowers in the microwave. We have one, and it works amazingly for this.
Just make sure you get the right Microfleur, there are knockoff ones out there that are not as high quality. Also, you can get it in a 5" plate or a 9" plate if you want to have the capability of drying large flowers such as hibiscus, or many flowers at once.
Why Use The Microfleur For Microwave Drying Flowers
Here is why we have a Microfleur for our flowers. We found that finding a good, heavy plate or cup to place on our flowers just didn't have equal coverage, and they would get so hot. The Microfleur actually preserves the color better and allows for a more even distribution of heat.
You can even use it to dry leaves and herbs from your garden.
2. How To Air Dry Or Hang Dry Flowers
Air drying flowers upside down is the quintessential way to air dry flowers, and it makes for a gorgeous display if you are into that farmhouse look.
Air dried flowers retain color decently, and it the air dry method is great for small flowers such as baby's breath and lavender, who will retain their shape perfectly like this.
Air drying is a good way to preserve flowers if you are looking to retain their shape for potpourri or for a dried flower bouquet to display. However, if you are looking to preserve a special bouquet and want to keep that color a bit better, you want want to consider silica gel.
It is also good to note that some people mention trying to use a hair dryer to help air dry flowers or to speed up the process of air drying flowers, but you would have to stand there for a long time with that hair dryer, and would have to keep it on low.
We do not recommend using this to speed up the air drying method. If it is speed you need, opt for the microwave dry method instead.
I should also mention that sometimes it is recommended to use unscented hairspray to dry flowers, and again, we do not recommend this. Hairsprays contain alcohol and yes, this can preserve dry flowers, but will also remove or alter the natural color of flowers.
If you want to hang dry flowers, just simply tie them together at their stem and hang in a dry place. There is nothing complicated about this method, and it is often used commercially for certain flowers, such as lavender, which dries very well this way.
3. How To Use Silica Gel To Dry Flowers
Planning on drying flowers or a bouquet and want it to look as close to the day it was a fresh flower bouquet as possible? Well the silica gel drying method may be up your alley.
When drying with silica gel or silica sand, it will be important to get a container for it so you can put your flower inside upright, and slowly cover it completely with the silica gel drying agent.
Try to find a container that can hold your fresh flowers; one that won't bee too shallow (you will want to cover your flowers completely) that you can put a lid on.
To dry your flowers with silica gel, here is what you do:
- Pick your flowers at the peak of their bloom
- Get your container ready, and fill the bottom 1-2 inches with silica gel
- Place your flowers in, the silica gel beads face up
- Using a small spoon or your fingers, gently sprinkle the silica gel into the flowers, ensuring it gets between the petals
- Continue to fill the container until the flowers are completely and gently covered
- Seal the container and leave it in a cool, dry place where it can stay undisturbed
- Take the flowers out after 3-4 days and gently shake any leftover silica gel beads free from the petals
A lot of brands of silica beads are reusable and have a color indicator in them. so when they turn a certain color, usually a green or orange, you can follow the directions by microwaving them or warming them in the oven to release the moisture from them and reuse them. Isn't that handy??
4. Use A Flower Press To Preserve Flowers
Much like drying your flowers in a book, you can have gorgeously pressed flowers using a professional flower press, made to give you beautiful results.
The difference between a flower press and using a heavy book to press flowers, is that a professional press will have drying plates made to absorb moisture from pressed flowers evenly to help preserve color better, and it will refrain from leaving any undried spots that can brown and spoil over time.
Here is a photo from a professional flower press kit on Amazon showing how it works:
You will also get several layers to press flowers with when you get a professional press, and because of the drying plates, it will actually dry your flowers a bit faster than a heavy book.
So if you are pressing flowers from your garden often for scrapbooking paper, handmade cards, for DIY gift wrap ideas or for wall art or resin pieces where you are going for the flat, pressed flowers look, you may want to consider getting this handy little device, plus they are a great price for a professional one.
When you professionally press flowers, you can tell.
5. Drying Flowers With A Dehydrator
Dehydrating your flowers dry works well if you want to maintain the general shape of your flowers, and you don't need the stem.
The reason you won't want any stems on your blooms when you dry them this way, is because they would come down into the trays below them (which may work for you depending on your dehydrator). However, you would have to like your flowers sideways to get a good dry with the stems on, and that would make them flat on just one side. You will find it better to try your flowers face up with no stems.
This drying process works well for flowers with petals spaced around a central disk, such as daisies, black eyed susans, chamomile and small sunflowers.
To dry your flowers in a dehydrator, here is what you do:
- When you harvest your flowers, grab them at peak bloom and make sure they are free from debris
- Cut off the stems right at the base of your blossom, and place face up in your dehydrator trays.
- Space the flowers out in the trays so there is nothing touching
- Set your dehydrator to low, and check your flowers after 6-8 hours
- Depending on what kind of dehydrator you have, you may have to rotate your trays around if you heating element and fan is located at the bottom of your dryer
If you are looking to upgrade your dehydrator, we have done a lot of research into the best dehydrators and why you would want to choose one with the fan and heating element located at the back. It makes the world of difference in the drying process for fruit, flowers and herbs.
6. Freeze Drying Flowers
This is one of the most professional ways to preserve a special flower or bouquet because it maintains both the color and the shape of flowers like they are still fresh.
Freeze drying works by dropping the temperature below freezing so the moisture from the items in the freeze dryer becomes a vapor, and collects as condensation and is then removed by the machine. The process is called lyophilization.
Many professional bridal shops and florists use this method to preserve special bouquets for their customers.
More commonly, freeze dryers are used to preserve foods for long-term storage and to make them into different dishes. I personally know someone who freeze dries candies like Skittles and sells them as a fun snack!
Freeze dryers are a more expensive way of preserving flowers and foods, unless you can find one on sale, which does happen from time to time. They are a fantastic option for professional or business use.
Dried flowers are a beautiful inclusion in so many projects, and depending on whether you want to press dry flowers dry for certain displays, or you want single flowers or your favorite blooms preserved for memory, or you want them dried in their original shape to include in resin art or for other creative means, there are many ways to dry your blooms.
Flower Drying Tips
Dried flowers will keep their color and shape as long as they are completely dry once you finish your drying method. Keeping them out of direct sunlight will also help maintain their color.
Also, remember that no matter which drying method you choose, it is best that you start with fresh flowers or fresh bouquets so you can capture that peak, full bloom.
When you choose fresh flowers to start with, you will capture the most amount of color and a great shape if you are drying them blossom up or not flattened.
Depending on your drying method, you can play with length of time and which method you prefer for more delicate flowers, smaller flowers or larger flowers.
The best way to learn is to try and make mistakes. You can really try any method for most flowers and learn from it. If the flower doesn't dry very well, try drying just the petals. Keep a journal of what works best!
If all else fails and you are not enjoying preserving flowers, you can also purchase pre-dried flowers online. There are some amazing shops on Etsy that sell dried flowers, and we will link to some of our favorites for you to check out.
Best Dried Flower Sellers and Shops on Etsy
If you are looking to purchase the best flowers from handmade sellers, those are some great places to start shopping.
There are also dried flowers and dried petals you can get on Amazon if you prefer shopping there.
Otherwise, if you want to shop in person, you can get good dried flowers and dried bouquets from your local craft stores.
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