A little while back, we embarked on a bit of an experimental project: to see whether we could successfully dry flowers for use as gift garnishes. Turns out, it’s easy as pie! And, as it’s peak bloom season here in the northern hemisphere, we thought this would be the perfect time to share the results of our experiments. These techniques can be used on flowers from your garden, wildflowers picked on a summer’s walk, or flowers you have gathered roadside. That said, they can also be used to transform flowers year-round, be it a bloom or two (or more!) from a Valentine’s Day bouquet, a congratulatory bunch of flowers, or simply a few blooms you picked up at the florist’s to make a gray day a bit brighter.
- Find a “press”: Now’s the time to use that old phone book that’s been lying around, the one that suddenly appeared, unwanted on your front doorstep, looking like a pretty solid door stopper. We found that phone books are perfect for flower pressing, thanks to their thin, readily absorbent paper. That said, if your town has stopped distributing phone books, a newspaper coupled with a stack of heavy books will work equally well.
Select and prepare your stems: In our experience, flower pressing is easiest with flowers that aren’t too thick. That said, if you are willing to wait long enough, it’s probably possible to press almost any kind of flower. Trim any blooms you’d like to use so that they will fit in your phone book or under the books you will be using - you don’t want any stems sticking out. We also like to trim off most leaves, leaving perhaps one or two to offset the blossom, but that’s a personal aesthetic choice and is not mandatory by any means.
Layering the flowers: Insert your flowers throughout the phone book (or layer them between sheets of newspaper), leaving an ample number of pages between each flower so each flower’s “lumpiness” has minimal impact on the others. Then, place the phone book (or newspaper stack) in a dry, well ventilated space and pile some heavy books on top of it to weigh it down, pressing on the flowers.
Waiting: Do nothing for a couple of days. In this time, the moisture from your flowers will begin to seep into the surrounding layers of paper. After 2-3 days have passed, check on your flowers. Take each one out and re-insert it between a fresh set of pages. Why do this? If you leave the flowers in the same place for several weeks, it was our experience that you’re likely to get moldy flowers. Sitting in their own moisture, they become easy prey for mold. By re-layering the flowers, you give them a fresh, dry place to continue the process of desiccation. A second benefit: re-leaving the flowers helps to make sure that they don’t stick to the paper around them, making them difficult to remove. Note: if you have especially moist flowers, you may wish to check on, and possibly re-leave/insert your flowers one more time.
More waiting: We found that 2-3 weeks was just about the right amount of time to make sure our flowers were fully dried out. Et voilà: you’ve got gorgeous, preserved blooms that can easily be used to garnish gifts - or, with a thin layer of glue, applied to the front of a blank notecard.
A few final notes:
Of the flowers that we dried, the daffodils proved to be the most delicate and we had to be a little extra careful when removing them.
We often love pastel-shaded flowers - pale pinks, yellows and the like. However, for the purposes of drying, in our experience, boldly and brightly colored blooms seem to work best. Most flowers fade a bit as they dry out. Some even brown slightly. Colors that were bolder to begin with seemed to turn into the punchiest looking dried specimens.
If you are drying flowers from a bouquet, do consider drying several sprigs of any “filler” as well. Aesthetically, you may find they come in as handy dried as they did when fresh.
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