How to air dry and preserve flowers at home

The dried or preserved flower arrangement trend that dominated the 70s and 80s is back and is shaping up to be one of the biggest floral trends of the season. This revived trend is being welcomed into homes in a rather chic way. Gone are the days of those drab brown dried flowers of the past, today’s dried flowers come in a plethora of sophisticated shades and vibrant colours that complement various interior styles.

You can buy preserved flower arrangements from most florists, but they can be quite expensive, with bunches ranging from $80 to over $150 depending on size and style. If you’re keen to save money and you have a garden and some spare time on your hand, you can easily create your own dried flower arrangements at home for a fraction of the cost. This is also an excellent way for gardeners to extend the enjoyment of their homegrown flowers.

How to air dry and preserve flowers at home 

Best flowers for air drying 

Most flowers can be dried, but some varieties preserve better than others. Easy-to-grow flowers that air-dry well include roses, hydrangea, artemesia, love-in-a-mist, marigolds, larkspur, statice, celosia, baby’s breath, lavender, chamomile, rosemary, sea holly, yarrow, echinacea, everlasting daisy, globe amaranth, billy buttons, pansies, and astilbe.

Flowers with thicker stems are better for dried flower arrangements, but this doesn’t rule out thin stemmed flowers. For flowers with thin stems like everlasting daisies, push florist wire through the centre of the flower head and then back again so it hooks onto the flower head. The wire will act as the stem and can easily be added to dried floral arrangements or make a visually striking display on its own.

Steps to air dry flowers at home 

There are many ways you can dry and preserve flowers at home. The most common method that retains a flower’s shape is air-drying, but you can also preserve flowers by pressing them flat in a flower press.  

To air-dry homegrown flowers, follow these five simple steps.

  1. Pick flowers in the morning before the blooms have completely opened. When you cut the flowers from the plant, take a decent length of the stem too.
  2. Strip off all the foliage from the stems.
  3. If dying the flowers, flowing the dying instructions below. If not, skip this step.
  4. Bundle 8 to 10 flowers together with a rubber band or string. If you’ve dyed your flowers, only bundle flowers that are dye the same colours together.
  5. Hang the bundles of flowers upside down. You can tie them up or use a coat hanger. Ensure the area you hand your flowers is dark, well ventilated, and out of the sunlight.
  6. Wait for 2 to 3 weeks for flowers to dry completely. If they don’t dry completely, you risk them growing mould. Once completely dried, arrange your flowers in a vase.

Flash dry flowers

Another way you can dry flowers is to flash dry them. This is a faster drying method that preserves the colours better than the previous method and it’s very easy to do. Simply put your freshly picked flowers in the boot of your car parked in the sun. Leave them in the car boot for 24 hours. Hydrangeas are one of the best flowers to flash dry in your car boot. 

How to change the colour of dried flowers 

Dried flowers look stunning in their natural form, but a current trend in dried floral arrangements is dying them to enhance their natural colours or change their look completely. There are many methods to dying dried flowers, but the easiest way is to use fabric dye.

Purchase a dye that’s suitable for dying fabric. You will find this dye in most fabric or craft stores. Follow the instructions on the packet to prepare the dye. Using tongs, dip each flower into the dye and keep it submerged for five to ten seconds. Remove the flower from the dye and check the colour. If you would like the colour to be darker, repeat the process until you have the desired look. Keep in mind it is easier to transfer colours onto lighter coloured flowers than darker ones.

Once you’ve dyed your flowers, hang them upside down until they have dried completely. Ensure the floor where your flowers are hung to dry is well protected with plastic sheets and old towels or drop cloths to prevent the dye from staining your floors.

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