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How to dry flowers and foliage

Gone are the days of the dusty and cobweb festooned dried floral arrangements that graced your Great Aunt’s mantelpiece – dried flowers are back and they mean business!

From pampas clouds to floral art frames, dried flowers are seeing a renaissance. Interest in preserving flowers has been growing as people realise that longevity and sustainability are their key attributes. Biodegradable and often with a low carbon footprint, the fleeting beauty of fresh flowers can be captured to be enjoyed all year round.

It's easy to dry and care for most flowers and foliage but there are a few things to keep in mind. Use the best quality flowers you can find as no amount of drying will help a poor bloom look better. Keep displays out of direct sunlight and away from moist rooms such as a bathroom or they could go mouldy. Remove dust with a hairdryer, set on a low heat, every now and then. 

Techniques you can try at home

Air drying

This is super easy with no special equipment required, just select good quality flower stems and strip off the lower leaves. Tie with a rubber band and hang upside down in a place with low light levels and good ventilation. They should be ready in a week or two. Statice (Limonium), grasses, yarrow (Achillea millefolium), poppy seedheads (Papaver) and sunflowers (Helianthus) are ideal for this method. 

Silica gel

This gel is expensive to buy initially but is re-usable. Place a layer of silica gel in a plastic tub. Snip off your choice flower heads and arrange on the gel. Surround the flower heads with more gel until covered. Check them every couple of days. The gel will absorb any moisture from the petals and change colour as it does so. Hellebores (Helleborus), peonies (Paeonia) and roses (Rosa) can all be preserved using this method.

Glycerine

This method uses hot water and glycerine in equal parts. Insert the stems into a glass jar contining the mixture and leave them to absorb the liquid until the colours completely change and leaves feel leathery. This is a useful method for foliage such as box (Buxus), beech (Fagus sylvatica) and ferns.

Pressing

Place simple and fairly flat flowers between sheets of scrap paper weighed down with some books. They'll be dry in a week, perfectly flat and keep their colours beautifully – pansies (Viola), primroses (Primula vulgaris) and small leaves are perfect.

Grow now from seed

There are a few great flowers that you can start growing now from seed that will make great dried flowers:


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