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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Drying flowers - part one

Dried flour sack arrangement - instructions will be covered in part 2

  For several years I studied the art of drying flowers. My passion for this art became a small business called "Out of the Woods" in which I sold my work at local fairs. I am proud to say most days I sold out.

With permission granted, warm days were filled traipsing through farm fields, harvesting truck loads of wheat and sunflowers.
Looking for moss, fallen pine cones and twisted branches deep in wooded areas became more than just a job, it became a treasure hunt.

Large topiary, wreaths and garlands were created.
Bunches of wheat and dried flowers were displayed for sale in antique willow laundry baskets.
Ornamental pots were filled with luscious dried flower arrangements.
European bundling made from wheat, Larkspur and roses was layered in antique wooden cheese boxes.
Everything that was made, was created from natural plant material that I grew, foraged, harvested or bought.

Through it all, I have experimented with several methods of drying flowers but
 have found that in most cases, air drying is the least work and produces the best results.
And I always like the "least work" method!

 If done correctly, air drying will produce flowers that are full of color, strong and the most natural.

Many flowers/plants can be air dried and here is a short list of some: Peonies, roses, lavender, globe amaranth, liatris, celosia, hydrangeas, salvia, larkspur, nigella, goldenrod, statice, sunflowers, grasses, boxwood, wheat, millet, moss and many types of leaves.

Most of the above flowers should be clipped with:

1. a good amount of stem length, try for 7-8" min.
2. the majority of the foliage removed, for good air circulation.
3. no more than 7 or 8 stems rubberbanded together, varying the head placement so air can circulate around them.

Stripped of foliage, banded and ready to be hung

After drying

4. hung upside down in a dark, warm, DRY environment.

Flowers should be harvested in the morning, after the dew has dried but before it is too hot out, making sure to choose flowers that are only about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way into bloom. Hydrangeas are an exception to this rule.
Moss and large sunflowers are dried differently. See below.

Hydrangeas can be dried upside down or standing in a vase with a very small amount of water ( about 1-2 inches), not replenishing water when diminished.
Clip the Hydrangeas when fully mature but still vibrant with color. Do not wait until they are browning.
Too fresh and they will become mushy and wilt. They need to feel a little "papery".
Hammer the clipped ends slightly and place in above mentioned vase in the dark.
Or just hang upside down. No need to hammer ends.

Moss is a plant that must be harvested sustainably and responsibly.
Never remove large amounts of any plant from the wild as to disturb the delicate balance in nature.
You should always have the owner's permission of any property from which you are harvesting.

When harvesting moss, carefully remove a small section from the host rock, dead tree or ground with a small knife and remove as much soil as you can from the back of the section without ruining the integrity of the piece. Check for any insects or larvae.
The moss can then be placed in a brown paper grocery bag, packed with crumpled newspaper
between layers, starting with a newspaper layer and ending with the same. This bag can then be folded over twice and stapled shut where it should be stored in, again, a warm DRY dark location, a basement or a warm attic being perfect.
If the storage area chosen is damp in any way, the material will not dry properly.
This moss can be used many ways with one way being to line the sunflower baskets described below.


Large sunflowers (Mammoth types) are clipped at the base where the stem meets the flower head.
Flowers should be fully ripe (petals falling off is fine) but the seeds should be firmly attached.
Rub your hand along the face of the flower to release all those plant bits and flower petals.
Trim out the back of the flower, cutting away all the flesh, until the inside of the head is fully exposed.
What you have left should be dried on a screen or bakers cooling rack, flipping over every couple of days until fully dried. This seed head will curve into the base for a beautiful basket.

So why not try drying a few bunches of flowers from the garden?

Drying flowers part 2, with project instructions will be covered in a future post called...
Decorating for the holidays.


  1. Karen I loved your tutorial on the flowers! That arrangement is beautiful. My peonies are in full bloom right now and I knew their petals dried well off the stems but now I see I can have them as flowers all year long...YAY!

  2. I love this!
    I love the arrangement you show- so beautiful!
    I might try something like this next year- this year I need to focus on my patio garden!!! lol

    You should def. link this up to a tutorial blog (kinda like the Friday Follows) or I'll do it for you.

    Thanks for coming to my game!

  3. Thanks for this. I want to dry some hydrangeas this year. And I may dry some roses while I'm at it! Appreciate your simple instructions.

  4. Hi Patty,

    I love the fact that we can make our flowers last longer!

    Warm regards


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