Growing flowers to dry is easy, inexpensive and rewarding. Here are some tips on what to grow and how to dry what you grow later.
Have you inadvertently left a bouquet of flowers in a vase and forgotten to add water? After several weeks, the flowers are still in position, and their petals are crispy. You have just dried some flowers.
If you want to intentionally dry them, flower season will not end with the first frost! Everlastings are, well, everlasting! Dried and stored correctly, their color and shape will last for years. They will decorate your home with summer throughout the year, but think how warming that will be in winter!
Dried flowers can be used in wreaths, vase arrangements, sachets, and garlands. You can also make sculptures, wall art, and stationery with them. If you get addicted to this, like I have, you can start a business selling flowers and finished products to florists, nurseries, and restaurants.
Gardening for dried flowers
Create a cutting garden of rows of your favorite flowers, or simply incorporate them into your regular landscape. Plant in good organic soil that holds water yet drains adequately, just like you would any flower. Fertilize regularly, cut spent flowers to keep the plants producing, and deal with pests as soon as you see them. If you already grow flowers, this part should be easy for you!
To harvest flowers for drying, wait until the dew has dried in late morning. Look for perfect specimens with no damage from bugs, wind or rain. Cut them before they are at their peak, because they continue to open afterwards. Put them in warm water until you are able to process them indoors.
Drying method for beginners
The easiest method is to hang them upside down. Strip the leaves off the stems, and loosely bunch them together with a rubber band. Hang them up side down on a piece of line you’ve strung up on the rafters preferable in a dark area. Direct sun or bright light will fade them. Be sure there is good ventilation to reduce the risk of mold and allow them to dry faster.
After about a week, check to see that they are completely dry. All parts should be crispy. Use them right away, or layer them loosely in tissue paper in cardboard boxes. Tape them shut, label them, and store them in a dry area of your house.
My top 5
Hanging is the easiest way to dry flowers. Here are the easiest flowers to dry with this method.
1. Statice – If you have ever bought a bouquet, there has probably been statice in it. The annual variety is most commonly blue, but it also comes in white, yellow, pinks, and oranges. It has a stiff feel to it when it is fresh, so it is excellent for drying.
The perennial variety is called German statice. It has an airy and delicate appearance, unlike its annual counterpart. The flowers bloom along a fan shaped stem in early summer. Both are good filler plants in arrangements.
2. Celosia – There are many varieties of celosia that are good for drying. Cockscomb looks exactly like that, a solid, dark red, wavy fan with sculptural interest. Celosia spicata and celway are more feathery.
3. Strawflowers (Helichrysum) – The name says it all. These feel like straw when they are fresh, as though they are already dried. They dry beautifully in the forgotten vase, so imagine how they look when you dry them correctly!
4. Sea Holly (Eryngium) – When I think of holly, I think ‘spikey’. Sea holly lives up to that. It has a distinctive cone-shaped center with a ray of blue or silver bracts at the base. It is easy to grow and drought tolerant, with a long taproot.
5. Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena) – The first Gomphrena I saw was at a gardening job. It was a brilliant red violet, a sure splash of color in this annual bed. The owner showed me how to dry them, and I’ve been a fan ever since. The flowers are small and round like a globe, and they come in white, pinks, reds and purples.
Rewarding and inexpensive
Buying flowers all winter to cheer you up gets expensive. Grow these easy flowers, dry your own, and decorate your home with colorful cheer year round. Plan now to add them to your garden.
And always garden organically to protect the earth and the pollinators that visit your plants!