Monty Don confesses to not growing his own flowers
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Flowers are a wonderful addition to any home. If you want to preserve a special bouquet for posterity, you can dry your favourite blooms to feature as a permanent fixture in your home. There are several ways you can dry flowers including air drying, using a drying agent and microwaving. Here are the most effective methods to dry flowers.
How to dry flowers
The technique of air drying flowers has been used for centuries and tends to be the easiest method.
Air drying takes around two to three weeks for flowers to try.
Experts suggest drying an entire bouquet of flowers because they will dry perfectly straight and look beautiful as they are drying.
- Flowers (such as peonies, irises, lavender, marigolds, gladiolus, gypsophila and freesias are best suited to air drying).
- Elastic band
- Location to hook and hang
- Coat hanger
- Florist wire
Begin by choosing the flowers you wish to air dry, ideally when these flowers have just bloomed or are about to bloom.
Remove any heavy foliage from these flowers as flowers weaken as they become dry.
Split the floral bouquet into bunches including no more than six or seven flowers per bunch.
Tie each bundle with an elastic band near the end of the stems.
Next, hang your tied flowers upside down from a nail, hook or coat hanger in a dry, dark and relatively warm room away from direct sunlight.
Leave the flowers to dry for up to three weeks, checking the flowers regularly after the first week.
Once the petals of the flower have become rigid, the flowers will be ready.
To preserve the dried flowers you should lightly spray each stem individually with hairspray.
You can use silica gel to dry flowers.
Silica gel is a type of desiccant which absorbs a lot of moisture.
- Flowers (such as aster, hydrangea, poppies, pansies and tulips are best suited to silica gel drying).
- Silica gel
- An airtight container (which is long enough to fit your flowers when lying flat)
- Small cleaning brush
- A cup or glass.
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To use silica gel to dry flowers, begin by filling the base of your container with an inch of silica gel to create a bed for the flowers.
Add your flowers to the container and separate them as much as possible.
Place flat-faced flowers down, but otherwise, make sure the bloom is facing upwards.
Gently cover your flowers with half an inch of silica gel to ensure the flower head is fully buried, but not squashed.
Seal the container and ensure it is as airtight as possible.
Move the container out of direct sunlight and be careful not to disturb the contents.
Leave the contents to dry for three to six days in the container, but make sure to check the flowers with a toothpick regularly after two days.
Once your flowers have dried satisfactorily, gently shake off the silica gel and use a cleaning brush to remove all the remaining drying agent from the flowers.
Microwave drying is best suited to flowers with thinner petals.
This technique of drying flowers is the quickest way to preserve flowers.
However, you will need to ensure the flower is cut to the length of your microwave.
Microwaving will also preserve more colour and freshness than other drying methods.
- Flowers (such as sunflowers, pansies, daffodils, carnations and anemones are best suited to microwave drying).
- Silica gel/cat litter
- Microwavable container (ideally plastic or glass)
- Small cleaning brush
- A microwaveable cup filled with water.
Cut your flowers to size so they fit inside your microwavable container.
Fill the base of your microwaveable container with one or two inches of silica gel or cat litter.
Add your flowers to the container, making sure to not overlap them.
Flat-faced flowers such as gerbera or daisies can be placed face down but otherwise, make sure the bloom is facing upwards.
Begin with one or two stems of the same variety at a time to gauge how quickly they dry.
Gently cover your flowers with half an inch of drying substance, being careful not to squash the flowers while ensuring the full flower head is covered.
Put the microwaveable dish into the microwave alongside the cup of water.
Microwave the flowers for one to two minutes intervals depending on the size of your stems.
The time you microwave flowers will depend on their size and type.
During the microwaving process, check the flowers with a toothpick to see if the flowers feel dry and if not, continue with heating intervals.
Remove the microwavable container and allow it to cool down fully.
Place a lid or cling film on the container and then leave it for 24 hours.
Remove your flowers from the container being careful not to bend or damage any of the contents and finish off by brushing away the excess gel to clean the flowers.
Best tips to remember when drying flowers
- If you notice any petals are bent or misshapen after covering with silica gel, you should use a toothpick to rearrange them.
- Be careful to avoid over-drying as it can cause flowers to become brittle and easily breakable.
- Try to source silica gel or another drying agent with a grain size which is no bigger than one mm.
- Blooms with higher water content such as lilies are ill-suited to drying.
- Flowers in full bloom lose their petals when they start drying, the sooner you begin the process, the more optimal the drying process will be.
- Some flower colours dry with more vibrancy than others do, with orange and yellow flowers drying with the most vibrancy, and purple and blue flowers drying dark.
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