1. Pick flowers when they are dry – never after a shower, as moisture can be trapped between leaves and petals and can cause mould to develop.
2. Divide the flowers into small bunches, and tie each bunch with an elastic band. Don’t use string or wire, as the stems will shrink as they dry, and may fall out of their tie on to the floor, causing damage and if unnoticed, the flowers will dry into strange shapes!
3. In the majority of cases (though not all, see below), hang the bunches upside down in an airy and warm place, preferably in the dark, but at least in low light. Strong light will bleach out the colours. Allow plenty of room for air circulation between the bunches, as this will aid the drying process and prevent mould forming.
4. Most flowers will take around a fortnight to dry. You can tell when they are dry by carefully flexing the head of the flower – if it gives, then it is not yet ready.
5. Some flowers need to be dried upright in water – yes, I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. Flowers such as Hydrangea, Gypsophila, and Alchemilla mollis should be picked, then the stems placed in a vase with about an inch of water in the bottom. By the time the flowers have used all the water, they will have dried successfully.
Picking the flowers
Picking the flowers at the correct stage of development is very important to the success of the drying process. Hydrangeas need to be turning “papery” to the touch before drying, otherwise they will just shrivel.
Most other flowers should be well developed before drying. Flowers with a papery feel (often known as “immortelles”) usually dry very well. One point to note about Helichrysums (straw flowers) however, is that these are an exception to the rule of picking when fully developed.
Helichrysums should be picked when the outer two or three rings of petals have developed. If the centre of the flower is on view, then it is too late to pick and dry them successfully. This is because Helichrysums carry on developing for a while after they have been picked, and will open out backwards on themselves, eventually shedding all the petals when dried.
We have compiled for you a list of flowers suitable for Air Drying.
|About the Author
Chrissie Harten lives in Redditch, Worcestershire, England, with her husband, and her cute dog Toby. Gardening is her passion, and Chrissie loves to describe herself as a plantaholic. When she is not in her garden, Chrissie teaches Flower Arrangements and plays the Saxophone. She is the Secretary and Internet Officer of Bromsgrove and District Flower Arrangement Society, which is affiliated to NAFAS.