What better way to extend your garden’s harvest than by preserving flowers for future use and creative endeavors. Gathering flowers and leaves of multi colors and forms will guarantee you a supply of materials for future creations.
Gathering Your Flowers
Probably the best place to collect materials for drying fresh flowers is your own garden and surroundings, therefore you will have to get to know your plants. The best way to do this is to observe them throughout the growing season and to experiment. You will begin to observe your flowers in a new light, seeing a multitude of colour shades, textures and forms. You can also use material from florists and dried flower suppliers. This source will enable you to gather material that is different or normally unavailable in your area.
You can also use material from florists and dried flower suppliers. This source will enable you to gather material that is different or normally unavailable in your area.
Harvesting your Flowers
When harvesting your plants you will soon discover that each plant has it’s own requirements, however there are some general guidelines to follow. Pick your flowers just before their blooming peak and then quickly dry them. This will help to maintain the flower’s color. Early morning may be the best time but wait until the dew has evaporated, and if it has rained wait until the moisture has dried. Next step is to remove the leaves from the stems.
The easiest way to preserve fresh flowers is by air drying. Collect and bundle your flower stems, tie with ribbon or rubber bands and hang upside down in a dark, dry, warm, well air circulated area. Some material such as cones, strawflowers and pods should be placed on layers of wood or screens in a similar environment. Drying times will vary on the plant material used and the drying conditions. For heavy slow drying material air circulation is essential to avoid molding. Using a fan can be very helpful. Once dried, store your dried flowers in a similar environment in boxes to avoid light and moisture.
Pressing Flowers and Leaves
Once pressed, flowers can be used to create pictures for framing. Your collected material must remain flat while moisture is drawn from it. Two layers of newspaper or paper towel between your material and heavy books will do the trick. You can also use a flower press. Leaves and single petaled flowers are particularly good for this application and should take about seven to ten days to dry.
Using Silica Gel
You can also preserve cut flowers using silica gel which will dry your flowers in about one week. Trim the flower stem to about one inch and place the bloom face up in a shallow box. Pour in enough silica gel, which can be purchased at any craft store, just deep enough to cover the flowers. Pour silica around and into the flowers taking care to support the petals in a natural form. Add more silica around the flowers until they are completely covered. For flat flowers such as daisies, dry the flowers face down with the stem sticking up. Store your flowers in air tight containers.
For the modern world you can also use your microwave to dry blooms. Flowers are heated for up to several minutes then let to set overnight. You will have to experiment with the timing to get it right.