Gardens & Conservatory

Plants & Collections

 

Drying Flowers and Plants for Botanical Decorations

SILICA DRYING:

Supplies:  Silica gel (stored in air-tight plastic containers), second container (airtight plastic), wire, wire cutter, cup, paper towels, pruners

1. Cut material in morning after dew has dried.  Process immediately or keep cut material in water.  Avoid wetting plants to be dried. Choose with care; avoid blemished material.

2. In empty container spread shallow layer of silica gel

3.  Wire flowers, if necessary (or later after drying).  A bloom with a rigid stem will be secure with a 3” length of straight wire inserted in the end of its stem, which should be cut to 1” long.  Weaker-stemmed material can have a hooked wire inserted from the top of a wire placed sideways through the base of the flower.

4.  Carefully cover with silica gel poured slowly from a cup.  Trickle silica between layered petals, if possible, so flower doesn’t flatten.  Bell or pouch-shaped flowers have to be filled with silica to dry properly.  When completely covered, put on an airtight cover and tape shut.

5. Drying takes 2 to 7 days for most plant material.  Drying time varies with moisture content of material.

6.  When removing plants from silica, tilt container and slowly pour silica into spare container.  As material is revealed, gently lift out.

7. To store dried material until ready to use, spread a very thin layer of silica on bottom of airtight plastic container and cover with a paper towel.  Layer material one deep with paper towel between each layer.

8.  Silica dried material will absorb moisture when exposed to humidity.  They are best displayed in the winter months when the heat is on, or under glass, be it an airtight picture frame, shadow box or bell jar.

9.  Silica will need drying, too.  Blue crystals in the gel indicate it’s fresh.  If it just looks like sand, it needs baking at 350 F for 3 hours, or until blue crystals appear. 

  

AIR DRYING:

Supplies: Pruners, string, twist ties, rubber bands, drying rack

1.  Cut material in morning after dew has dried.  Process immediately or keep cut material in water.  Avoid wetting plants to be dried. Choose with care; avoid blemished material.

2. Strip unwanted foliage from each stem.  Excess foliage will slow the drying process.

3. Some flowers will need wiring at this stage—strawflowers, for example.  The need for wiring is also dependent on intended use.

4.  Most flowers retain a better form when hung upside down while drying.  Others, such as Queen Anne’s lace or fennel, maintain their flat-topped form dried upright with stem stuck through a screen or cardboard box.

5. Tie plant material in bundles with string, rubber bands, or twist ties.  Single flowers on a stem can be hung in groups of 3 – 10.  Plant material with foliage or large flowers should be hung in small groups or singly to allow air to reach all parts.

6. Hang your bundles in a warm, dry place, out of the direct sun.  A fan will ensure good air circulation.

7.  Store your completely dried material in boxes or where it hangs.  A paper bag over top will keep it dust free.

PRESSED FLOWERS

Supplies:  Pruners, press, and paper (can substitute telephone book), scissors, sharp knife, spray glue, gluestick, tweezers

1. Cut material in morning after dew has dried.  Process immediately or keep cut material in water.  Choose with care, avoid blemished material.

2.  Clip stem close to flower and remove any thick or succulent plant parts.  Some flowers and other material such as vegetables will need to be sliced in half.

3.   Arrange plant material carefully.  Don’t overlap and try to keep material of the same thickness on a page.

4. Use a sufficient amount of paper between specimens.

5. Check dryness periodically, replacing paper if needed.

6.  Store pressed material in layered paper, kept flat.  Place in a dry room or closet.

PLANT MATERIAL SUITABLE FOR AIR DRYING

Basil, Celosia, Globe Amaranth, Strawflower, Statice, Nigella, Money Plant, Yarrow, Hydrangea, Fennel, Lavender, Bittersweet, Rosemary, Larkspur, Liatris     

PLANT MATERIAL SUITABLE FOR PRESSING

Almost any flower or foliage can be pressed.  Thick materials need to be sliced in half or thirds and will take longer to dry completely.  Most materials will change color to some degree; experiment with test pressings to make sure the material will work for your project.

PLANT MATERIAL SUITABLE FOR SILICA GEL

Poppy, Zinnia, Marigold, Pansy, Lily, Sunflower, Hollyhock, Foxglove, Helleborus,          Peony, Carnation, Goldenrod, Daffodil, Rose, Dogwood, Lilac, Passionflower, Pitcher Plant, Lotus