Drying Flowers for Everlasting Beauty (cont)
By: Braddock Bull
This is the simplest and by far most popular way to preserve flowers. Air-drying flowers requires cool, dry air. Choose the drying room carefully, and have it ready before harvest. Avoid humid kitchens and bathrooms.
Spare bedrooms or large closets make good drying rooms, but hot attics and damp cellars generally do not. Garages and sheds are tempting, but they offer less control over temperature and, sometimes, can be excessively warm. Low light is fine, but not direct sunlight. If you have a dehumidifier, use it along with a low-speed fan to circulate air, especially if you live in a humid climate. The quicker the drying process, the better.
With the exception of sunflowers, most commonly dried flowers are best air-dried in inverted bunches. Make the bunches no thicker than 1-1/2 inches at the stems, and secure them with a tight rubber band.
How to Hang Flower Bunches. Suspend a 1/2-inch-diameter horizontal pole or pipe from the ceiling. If fastening hooks into your ceiling or walls is not an option, use tripods or two high-backed chairs to support the pole. A bent paper clip makes a perfect hanger for your bunches. Put newspaper or a drop cloth on the floor under the hanging bunches to catch fallen leaves, seeds, and petals. Hang bunches far enough apart to allow good air circulation.
How Long to Hang Flowers to Dry. The drying process takes from 10 to 20 days, depending on the plant. When dried, the stems should snap. You must test the flowers for dryness. Dissect one or two, and make sure the flowers' insides are thoroughly dry.
Some flowers, such as delphiniums, keep their color better if dried quickly near sources of warm air such as a heater. Large, many-flowered blooms such as dill, fluffy grasses, and Queen Anne's lace, should be dried upright, not hanging upside down.