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What are Different Methods of Drying Flowers?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are two basic methods to dry flowers: air-drying and pressing. One technique might be better than the other, depending on how the dry flowers are going to be used: many crafters, for example, like to use pressed flowers in paper and card making. Dried flowers for decorative use around the home are often air dried so that they retain their three dimensional shape. Consider the needs of the project when deciding which flower drying method to use, as well as your available workspace and the season. Flowers do not air dry well in humid weather, although they can be press-dried year round.

Air-drying flowers is relatively easy to do, although some flowers take better to this technique than others. If you plan to dry flowers by air-drying them, look for flowers without a lot of moisture that have firm, distinctive shapes, bright colors, and rich scents. If you are not sure whether or not a flower will dry well, look for examples of it in a dried form. Seed heads, yarrow, amaranth, strawflowers, cornflowers, and lavender all air dry well. Tie a bunch of flowers loosely together, trim the bottoms of the stems, and hang them, upside down, in a cool dry place. Keep the flowers out of the sun, and make sure to turn the bunch occasionally to make sure that the flowers are drying evenly. When the dry flowers are crinkly to the touch, they are dry and ready for use.

A relation of air-drying is desiccant drying, a useful technique for flowers that do not air-dry well. The most common desiccant is sand, although other commercial products are sold specifically to dry flowers with. To dry flowers using the desiccant technique, lay down a layer of the desiccant in a box, place the flowers onto it, and gently sift the desiccant over the flowers until they are covered. Keep the box in a warm, dry place for two weeks before gently pulling the dried flowers out.

To dry flowers by pressing them, you can either use a heavy book or a flower press. A heavy book such as a dictionary is an excellent choice, as long as you interleave it with protective paper to prevent the book from being stained. Commercial flower presses are also available and relatively cheap. To press flowers, place them carefully inside your press of choice and close it, returning in approximately a week to remove the dried, pressed flowers, which will be flat and papery to the touch.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By sunshined — On Sep 05, 2011

I have two lavender bushes planted beside a bench in my yard. I always enjoy the color and scent of these flowers.

One of my favorite things to do is snip off some of the branches to dry. It really is easy to dry lavender flowers and they make a great filler for many dried flower arrangements.

I have had good results screen drying my lavender flowers. I have some old screens that I use just for this purpose. This works well because the air can circulate around the flowers as they are drying.

All I do is set them in a single layer on the screen and give them some time until they are completely dried.

By myharley — On Sep 05, 2011

I have a lot of celosia flowers that come back year after year. They are considered an annual, but where I have them planted, they continue to come back and bloom every year.

Their bright colored flowers are perfect for dry flowers arrangements. I have used the tall spiky flowers and the big round ones in several different arrangements.

Once I cut them off the plant all I do is gather them in a bunch and tie the stems together at the bottom.

I have nails already pounded in certain spots in my garage where I hang them upside down to dry for a few months. They also retain their color very well this way.

By KoiwiGal — On Sep 04, 2011

@browncoat - That's a sweet idea. I always worry though, that the flowers will leave a stain in the book. Even if you put layers of tissue around them, over time you could still run that risk. If it's a meaningful book, I'd be even more careful about it.

I press enough flowers that it was worth getting a real flower presser. They really don't cost all that much (or they would be quite simple to make I think). I just make little dry flower arrangements in scrapbooks and keep them that way. I can also note down why I bothered to keep the flowers and what kind they are, etc. It's just a fun thing to do on a rainy day.

By browncoat — On Sep 04, 2011

I always use the pressing method when I have some flowers I want to keep. It's good for crafters, I know, but in my case it's just nice to be able to preserve a memory. Like, if someone gives me flowers, I'll just press a few of them between some books. Actually, I try to match the book to the flower or plant.

When my mother gives me a sprig of something, I'll press it in my bible, but if it was something like wanting to dry wedding flowers I'd put it in a book that reminds me of the couple.

That way, the book becomes part of the story and whenever I open it and see the flowers, I can relive whatever memory it is.

This is especially good because I do this all the time and I don't know where else I would put all these flowers!

By pastanaga — On Sep 03, 2011

The desiccant drying technique is really good for flowers when you want them to retain their shape. Roses, for example, might not keep their shapes as well if you just air dry them, while if you bury them in sand, or a commercial preparation, they will end up looking better and in some cases, will retain their colors better as well. Just bear in mind that even this method won't make your roses look perfectly fresh.

However, if you want to dry roses to keep the scent around, I think you're better off drying fresh flowers in bunches by air drying.

I've found that this preserves the scent better than the desiccant method.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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