The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, October 7, 2001
Sunday Activity

Preserve fresh blooms as dry flowers

Dry thick flowers with silica gel
Dry thick flowers with silica gel

AUTUMN is that time of year when all those bright blooms of the summer and rainy seasons are withering away and the winter blooms are yet to make an appearance. Instead of just letting these flowers fade away, take out time to preserve them as dry flowers, to be used either along with fresh flower arrangements or simply by themselves to liven up little corners of your house. This way you can preserve summer memories to warm up chilly winter days.

Preserving blossoms

Choose only bright, perfect flowers and leaves for drying. Pick them around noon on a clear, dry day, and make sure they are free of moisture, insects, and disease. Begin drying procedures immediately.


Air drying

Choose bright blooms for drying
Choose bright blooms for drying

This method is good for small flowers in clusters. Remove all leaves except the ones near each blossom. Gather the flowers into small bunches and secure them with rubber bands. If you tie them with a string or wire, tighten the ties every few days as the stalks dry and shrink. Hang the flowers upside down in a dry, dark place where air can circulate freely around them. Leave them for 2 to 4 weeks, until they are dry but not brittle.

Drying agent

To dry flowers with thick heads, such as roses or zinnias, use silica gel, available at craft stores, or perlite from a nursery or florist. The flowers are less prone to mildew and will retain their colours better. If the silica gel has absorbed moisture (the crystals will be pink), set it in an oven at 250°F for an hour or until it turns blue.

Pluck flowers around noon
Pluck flowers around noon

Spread a 1" layer of the drying agent in the bottom of an airtight container. Choose flowers of similar type and size. Remove their leaves, and clip off all but 1/2" to 1" of the stem.

On top of the agent, place cupped flowers (such as roses) upright, radial shapes face down, and sprays flat. Completely cover them with additional crystals. Seal and label the container and place it in a cool, dark place.

When the flower petals are almost as crisp as paper (in about a week), gently pour off the agent. Thread florist’s wire through the flower heads and secure with florist’s tape to provide stems for arrangements.

Flower pressing

Hang flowers upside down in a dry, dark place
Hang flowers upside down in a dry, dark place

For best results, pick flowers and leafy plants around noon. Orange and yellow blossoms retain their colours best; most blues and pinks fade; reds turn brown. Lay each plant between two layers of absorbent paper (best for fleshy flowers) or waxed paper (fine for thin or delicate types). With thick heads, such as roses, press the petals individually. Weight the flowers with a heavy book or bricks; leave them in a warm, dry place for at least 4 weeks.

Creative uses

To make a framed picture of dried flowers, cut a piece of thick paper to fit the frame. Gently arrange the flowers on the paper to form a spray, bouquet, or any other pleasing arrangement. With a toothpick, dab a bit of white glue on the back of each flower or leaf; press it in place. When the picture is dry, lay it face down in the frame. Place cardboard backing over it. Cut wrapping paper to fit it, and glue it to the back of the frame as a seal.

—Chetna Banerjee

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