Receiving a Valentine’s Day bouquet never grows old. As time wears on, however, there’s nothing quite so sad as tossing out that floral memory.
If you know how to dry flowers, however, that special bouquet needn’t end up at the county dump or in your compost bin. The process is simple and can be achieved by air drying or using a microwave. Here’s how.
1. Will the bouquet dry well?
The types of flowers used in the bouquet make a big difference in the final product. Air drying works best for such robust varieties such as roses or long-lasting plants, like lavender.
For more delicate flowers, like lilies, pressing may be your best preservation alternative. You can also use the pressed flowers when making homemade paper. Check out B Zedan’s series of easy-to-follow flickr photos and instructions that will guide you through the process of using dried plants, junk mail, newspapers, sheets, a blender and other readily obtained items to make flower-embedded paper.
Gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums, roses and tulips are great candidates for the microwave flower-drying technique (see below), a process that will preserve their color and structure better than air drying.
For the best results, start with quality flowers.
2. Keep fresh flowers out of the sun
Flowers will retain more of their natural color if you remove them from sunlight as soon as they’re cut.
3. Remove the excess
Strip excess foliage from your flowers and cut the stems to your desired length, but not shorter than six inches.
4. Tie everything together
Use rubber bands or cotton string to tie bunches of stems together when you want to preserve an entire bouquet. If you want to hang the flowers individually, attach stems to individual strands of unflavored dental floss.
5. Dry them in the dark
Find a dark, dry area with good circulation. An unused closet, basement or garage will work perfectly.
6. Use wire hangers
Attach the strings or rubber bands to a clothes hanger. You can attach up to two flowers or bunches on each hanger by hanging items from each side, or you can hang one flower or bunch by hanging it from the middle. Once secure, hang flowers upside down to dry.
7. Drying time
Leave your flowers upside down for at least two to three weeks and don’t remove them until they’re thoroughly dry.
8. Final prep
Remove the flowers from the hangers and spray them with hairspray to provide extra protection. You can now display your dried flowers around the house as you please, remove the petals and make potpourri or use them in a crafts-related project to make a thoughtful gift for someone else.
Drying with a microwave
1. Use a microwave-safe container
Don’t use a dish you might want to use for food after this project. Your flowers will dry to the shape of the bottom of your container if you don’t support them, so you’ll need to use silica gel in the container to help the flowers maintain their shape.
2. Prep with silica gel
Cover the bottom of the container with about an inch or two of silica gel (more for larger blossoms), place your flowers in the gel with the flower blossoms facing upward. Gently pour gel over the flowers to ensure all petals are positioned to dry properly. Be cautious as you pour to avoid flattening your petals.
Fortunately, silica gel can be used over and over again, so be liberal with the dosage.
3. Determine the proper drying time
Roses can withstand more heat while daisies prefer lower temperatures. Microwave temperatures and times will vary from plant to plant, so use trial and error to find the right recipe. Begin by setting the microwave a couple levels above defrost for 2 to 5 minutes.
Start with a short amount of time, checking your flower’s progress periodically. If the flowers don’t appear to be drying, stealing increase the heat and time.
4. Final prep
Once dried, immediately cover the container, open the top 1/4 inch and let sit for 24 hours. Once the flowers have cooled, clean off the petals with a fine brush and mist them with an acrylic spray.
This is a guest post by Freeshipping.org’s Go Frugal Blog, where money-saving experts share frugal living tips and ideas.