Dried flowers can be used several ways: in the composition of a bouquet or to decorate an elegant centrepiece. But before having beautiful dried flowers, it is essential to know which varieties of flowers to plant, in what season and how to go about it. Quick overview of flowers that can be dried without crumbling and keep their brightness for a long time.

Dried flowers adorn the most exclusive salons. They even compete with artificial plants. In addition, producing them is not that difficult and even beginners can get started.

Flowers to dry and their cultivation

A wide variety of plants can be used for making dried flowers. Annuals, such as Helichrysum, Acroclinium, Limonium, giant woolflower, fernleaf yarrow, thistle, purple loosestrife, foxtail amaranth or ornamental corn are the gardeners’ preferred choices because they are very decorative. Their only drawback is that they require a lot of patience because they only bloom once a year. Indeed, they are planted in the spring and produce their first flowers a year later.

Then, there are perennial plants such as baby’s breath, trachelium, groundcherries, butterfly stone crop, edelweiss (in winter), gynerium, alpine sea holly, goldenrod, pearly everlasting, poppy, rose, lavender, but also grasses such as bamboo, sugar cane and cereals, some of which can be planted in June and others in April. Some ears of dried corn and rice wisely spread are sufficient for giving a room a rustic touch.

The shrubs also produce beautiful flowers that can be dried. Lilac, corkscrew hazel and hydrangea are the most sought after species by connoisseurs, while the berry bushes, such as cotoneaster and Oregon grape are less common, probably because of their excessively high humidity rates. Finally, it should be noted that some vegetables can also be dried for decorative purposes. For example, a bouquet of dried artichoke produces a nice effect as a centrepiece and enhances a plain white linen tablecloth. All these plants can be grown in-ground or in greenhouses, depending on the desired outcome and available space. In short, anyone can give free rein to his or her imagination, the key being to vary the cultures for a wide range of dried flowers, regardless of the season.

How to dry flowers?

The first step is obviously to cut the flowers at the desired height. It is advisable to do so in late afternoon or even in early evening, when the temperature is not too high, and to choose flowers that are barely open. Those already blooming spoil quickly and are not, therefore, suitable candidates for the drying process. Once the flowers are cut, choose between the four main drying techniques.

The most traditional is to group plants by variety, attach them using rubber bands and then hang them upside down for two to four weeks. Some species dry faster than others. Although experts recommend placing the bouquets to dry in a dark room, it is also possible to leave them in the open air (but still in the shade), unless the weather is not favourable, as in the case of rain for example.

The second more innovative technique consists of “baking” the flowers in the oven, on thermostat 2 or 3, for several hours. To do this, the flowers need to be placed on a bed of sand in an airtight container. The third technique is to press the flowers, in a thick dictionary for example. Even if effective, this type of drying has two major drawbacks: it takes considerable time and is only suitable for single flowers, not plants with stems and flowers included, except in the case of very small plants. It will mainly be useful to those making an herbarium.

Finally, we can enclose the plants in a box containing a bag of silica crystals. These absorb moisture and allow the flowers to be dried in a few weeks. To preserve dried flowers and protect them from the ravages of time, strengthen them with hairspray, store them away from direct light and the dust them regularly.

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Published in Decorating guide by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011