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Sometimes we receive flowers as a special gift or use them on a special occasion like a wedding or first date. In this instance, bouquets can take on a symbolic or sentimental meaning. By preserving flowers and bouquets, you can continue to relive those special occasions through these mementos.
But dried flowers aren’t always a sentimental item; drying flowers is a great way to lengthen the lifespan of your favourite bouquet and requires minimal upkeep for those who are busy. No matter why you want to try dried flowers, we’ve put together a helpful step-by-step so you can better understand the process.
Dried flowers are much more versatile than fresh flowers in their usage. You can use dried flowers in a traditional bouquet, but they are also great for using in potpourri, resin art and jewellery. You can even have a dried bouquet professionally mounted in a picture frame to turn it into an art piece.
You can start air drying your flowers at any stage from when you receive them, though before they begin to wilt is ideal. This way, you can preserve the shape of the bloom and some of the colour.
Methods of drying flowers
1. Air dry
The air-drying method is the most traditional technique but the most time consuming. That said, it is not very labour-intensive meaning you can prepare the flowers and let nature do most of the work. This technique is best for bouquets and larger blooms like sunflowers. The amount of time it takes to dry your flowers will depend on the weather and type of flower you’re drying, it can take anywhere between a few weeks and a few months. It’s important to ensure that your flowers are in a dark room for the duration to best preserve the colour. If left in the sun, the light will dullen the colours. Here’s how your air dry a bouquet:
- Trim foliage and stems to desired length, no less than 6 inches.
- Either tie the bouquet together with rubber bands or separate flowers to dry individually
- Find a dark room with good air circulation, like a cupboard or attic. Use unflavoured dental floss or string to hang the flowers upside down.
- Leave flowers undisturbed for 2-3 weeks
- Remove string and spray the bouquet with unscented hairspray to protect them
- Place anywhere in your home and enjoy!
2. Dry flowers with microwave
Using a microwave is a faster air-drying technique. It requires silica gel which you can find in most craft stores. The time effective technique is a little more labour-intensive but achieves a beautiful result within minutes. Here’s how you use a microwave to air-dry flowers:
- Find a microwave-safe container that will fit in your microwave and hold your flowers. After this project, the bowl will not be food safe, so use something old that can be reused for this purpose.
- Fill with an inch or two of silica gel, using more for larger blossoms. Place flowers blossom-up in the container and top up with gel. Pour gently, or use your hands, so that petals don’t get flattened.
- Place the container uncovered in the microwave. Microwave temperature and time will vary according to the type of flower, so this step requires a bit of trial and error. Start with 2-5 minutes as a guideline depending on the flower. Roses can withstand more heat, while daisies are best dried at lower temperatures.
- Check your flower’s progress in the microwave after about a minute, and then every 30 seconds. Increase heat and time as needed.
- Once the flowers have dried, open the microwave and immediately cover the container.
- Remove the covered container from the microwave, open the top a little and let it sit for 24 hours.
- Clean the gel from the petals with a fine-tip brush and then mist with an acrylic spray to protect it.
This method is best for smaller bouquets or individual flowers that can fit in a container in your microwave.
3. Preserving in resin
Using epoxy resin to preserve your flowers is also a beautiful way to display them or turn them into art pieces. Note that epoxy resin is a potent and potentially dangerous chemical so be sure to follow all the safety instructions on the packet and use the appropriate safety gear. It is easier to preserve pressed or dried flowers in resin, rather than fresh. Here’s how you can make your flowers into art with resin preservation techniques:
- Mix the hardener and base resin. All epoxy resins consist of these two-part systems, which ensures your resin will cure smoothly. The exact ratios will vary, so read instructions on your particular type carefully. Let dry between 12–48 hours.
- Once your resin has been properly mixed, pour it into a clean silicone mould. Be careful not to fill higher than half the height of your mould.
- Use a heat tool (such as a hairdryer) to remove any air bubbles from the resin.
- Place flowers face-down into your silicone mould, using a toothpick to arrange them.
- Let cure for approximately five hours.
- Once the initial layer of resin has cured, carefully pour the second layer into your mould. Use a heat tool to carefully remove air bubbles from the resin. Let cure for five hours, removing bubbles as they form.
- Check your mould after the second layer has cured. At this time, the resin isn’t fully cured but should not be sticky.
- Carefully remove from silicone mould.
- Leave your object in a flat position to finish hardening. Sand any sharp edges with sandpaper to create a smooth finish.