Crafting with Dry Flowers
A Guide to Drying and Pressing
Most everything we gardeners grow is planted for a reason. We grow vegetables to feed our families and flowers to feed our hearts and souls.
Gardeners who enjoy making things will also grow plants for crafting.
For those interested in flexing their crafting skills, there's no better garden investment than planting flowers that can be dried and used for crafts right next to the veggies and herbs.
Although they’re not officially a botanical category, dried flowers or “everlastings” are flowers that keep on giving long after they've been cut from the plant.
Species within this group basically consist of flowers, leaves, seed pods, and stems that hold their shape and color well after they dry out.
This trait makes them extremely attractive to the crafty among us.
One of the best things about growing dried flowers is that they lead a double life.
First, you can bring them into the house to enjoy them as fresh-cut flowers; later,
you can dry them for use in homemade candles, perpetual flower arrangements, potpourri, tea, cards, wreaths, soap, drawer sachets, and tons of other handcrafts.
With dried flowers on hand, it’s easy to add a special touch to an otherwise-common item.
For example, plain pillar candles can become custom pieces by placing dried flowers or leaves onto the sides of the candle and then dipping the entire candle into clear wax.
Once the wax is dry, you have a one-of-a-kind decoration or gift.
Dried flower petals are the most obvious part of the plant used for crafting. However, some everlastings are grown for their seed pods, which show up soon after the flowers have gone.
These pods are just as beautiful and often even more interesting than the flowers themselves.
Harvesting Dried Flowers
When harvesting flowers to dry, choose blooms that are as young and unblemished as possible.
Keep in mind that insect damage will become more noticeable as the flowers dry.
Cut flower stems from the plant in the late morning on a dry day.
By 11:00 am, the dew will have evaporated from the plant but the afternoon sun will not have had time to wilt the flowers.
Cut the stems as close to the base of the plant as possible since a long stem makes the flowers easier to work with.
Annual Dried Flowers
Below is a list of annual flowers that work well as everlastings for craft projects.
Annual plants live out their lives in a single year (season), so they need to be replanted the following year (although some of them will readily reseed themselves).
- Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascene; flowers and seed pods)
- Winged Everlasting (Ammobium alatum)
- Statice, which is also known as Sea Lavender (Limonium sinuatum; tender perennial grown as an annual)
- Strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum)
- Cockscomb (Celosia cristata)
- Bells-Of-Ireland (Moluccella laevis)
- Globe Amaranth (Gomprena)
- Starflower (Scabiosa stellata)
- Annual Baby’s Breath (Gyposophila elegans)
- Immortelle (Xeranthemum annuum)
Perennial and Biennial Dried Flowers
Once established, perennials come back year after year, often bigger and better.
- Money Plant or Honesty (Luneria annua) – (seed pods)
- Roman Shield (Fibigea clyeata)
- Sea Holly (Eryngium spp.)
- Rose (Rosa spp.)
- Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi) – (seed pods)
- Artemesia (Artemesia spp.)
- Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)
- Sweet Annie (Artemesia annua)
- Yarrow (Achillea spp.)
- Perennial Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata)
How to Dry Flowers for Crafting
Crafters dry flowers using a variety of techniques, including microwaves, ovens, glycerine, silica gel, hang drying, and flat drying.
Hang drying is my favorite since it’s the easiest, least-expensive technique.
To hang dry flowers:
- Remove the leaves from the stem so that only the flower remains (unless you are interested in drying the leaves).
- Gather a small bunch of flowers together and secure them with a rubber band. The band will shrink along with the stems as they dry.
- Hang the flower bunches upside down (out of direct sun) in a covered, warm, dry, airy place so they can dry out completely.
- Make sure the bunches are hanging far enough apart so they don’t touch while they’re hanging. In dry, warm weather, you can expect the flowers to be ready in 5–6 weeks. During cool, damp periods, it may take longer.
Try Drying Flowers in a Vase
Some flowers will dry beautifully when they are simply placed upright into a vase or a jar.
Add about three inches of water to the vase and let them be.
By the time the water evaporates, the flowers will be dry and ready for crafting.
Try this technique with Baby’s Breath, Chinese Lanterns, Poppy seed pods, and Nigella seed pods.
Dried Flower Storing Tips
Once your flowers and seed pods are completely dry, they need to be stored properly so you can use them later. Here are some storage tips:
- Label everything with the flower names (and varieties) and the date. You will be surprised how easy it is to forget what you’ve dried once you have more than a handful of stems.
- The storage area should be cool and well-ventilated with low lighting. This type of environment will help keep mold and mildew at bay and preserve the flowers’ colors.
- Whether you use shoe boxes, plastic containers, or container drawers, resist the urge to overcrowd the space. The less the dried flowers are handled, the longer the flowers and pods will remain intact.
Think of this article as a dried flower guide, and feel free to try drying any flower that strikes your fancy.
Many of them will surprise you with how well they turn out, while others will disappoint.
After some experimenting, the types of plants that tend to hold up well (and retain their color) will become obvious.