Ancient Egyptians preserved elaborate garlands and made detailed
preparations using grains and herbs for their dead to enjoy in the next
world. Medieval monks harvested and dried flowers and herbs for
medicinal purposes. Victorian ladies considered floral garlands to be an
essential fashion accessory. They displayed dried flowers in glass domes
and designed clever pictures using dismembered cones, lavender, barley
The interest in dried flowers comes in waves bringing all the old
applications and techniques along with fresh inspirations and ideas.
Today, dried flowers are very popular. They are long lasting, tolerant
of most temperatures and offer a wide range of subtle and striking
Growing Your Own
You donít need a large area to grow enough plants for several large
arrangements. Plan your garden so you can enjoy it year round by
planting evergreens, deciduous plants, annuals and perennials. Plant
rows of flowers in your vegetable garden.
Herbs are easy to grow, and can be planted in pots and window boxes.
They transform simple cooking into gourmet dishes, and delicately scent
a room when dried and used in a wreath or an arrangement.
You can usually find a wide selection of weeds, grains, seed-heads and
pods in craft stores. By drying your own focal flowers such as;
hydrangeas, zinnias, roses, dahlias and sunflowers; and a selection of
line flowers such as: larkspur, delphinium and liatris you can save
money and have a greater variety of flowers in your arrangements.
Successful drying depends not only upon the preserving process, but also
upon picking the fresh plants at the right time. Cut the flowers in the
early morning or late evening. At these times the flowers are fully
saturated with water. Enjoy cut roses as they open. Just before they
reach full bloom, remove them from the water and hang them up to dry.
Delphiniums, larkspur, foxglove and lupin should be gathered when the
lower buds are flowering, but the very top ones are still closed. Select flowers and leaves that are perfect
specimens. Visible pollen
seeds and wilting or missing florets on flower spikes indicate an over-mature
flower. Drying flowers that have tears, holes in the petals or foliage
is a waste of time, because the drying process will only emphasize
imperfections. Cut flowers when the heads feel firm, just before they
come into full bloom.
When preserving in a solution of water and glycerin, collect foliage in
the summer when the leaves are at peak maturity. Young green leaves will
not absorb the glycerin solution, and autumn leaves have stopped
drinking water and sap. So, both are unsuitable for absorbing glycerin.
wires and floral tapes
Many flower heads are
too heavy for the dried stems to support during the drying process. Cut
the stems and wire them before hanging them out to dry. Cover the wire
stems with floral tape after the flowers are dry. Some flowers can be
wired after they are dried, but it is easier to wire them when they are
fresh, because the wire slips through the moist heads more easily. Wire
several stems of one type of flower or seedpod together for a more dense,
brightly colored effect. Use two to four sprigs of flowers in a bunch.
Storing Dried Flowers and Foliage
The safest way to store dried flora is in long, shallow cardboard boxes.
Poke holes in the sides and top so the air can circulate, and add small
packets of desiccants to absorb any moisture. Wrap bunches of like-flowers
in tissue or newspaper, and lay them in a head and foot arrangement.
Donít overcrowd. Label the box and store where the temperature is
relatively constant. Very delicate material can be stored hanging upside
down with an umbrella of tissue paper to protect the flowers from light
(which fades) and dust.