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A bouquet of cut flowers makes a thoughtful gift for any occasion. Whether they’re for a birthday, anniversary, or just because, flowers send a message of beauty and affection. The main drawback to a floral arrangement is that many cut flowers last only a week or so in the vase. The good news is that there are many easy ways to preserve flowers so that they last indefinitely.
Air drying is the most traditional and economical method of preserving flowers. This technique has been used to save floral specimens for countless hundreds of years. All that is required is some string (or plain dental floss) and a moderately warm, dry room where the flowers can hang undisturbed. Flowers are grouped together in small bundles, bound with the string, and hung upside down to retain their upright shape. The dry time with this method is usually 2 to 3 weeks.
Silica gel is a desiccant that is used to absorb water. Similar to the little packets you find in shoe boxes, silica gel soaks up excess moisture into its gel-like crystals. It is sold in craft stores in tubs that are sufficient to dry several flowers. The flower is carefully surrounded by silica gel in an airtight container, and the water is gradually wicked away so the flower dries in a natural shape. This process usually takes 1 to 2 weeks, and many types of silica gel are reusable.
Manual pressing is a method in which flowers are flattened between sheets of blotter paper. The press is usually tightened by hand to facilitate the most removal of water. If you don’t wish to purchase a press, a similar result can be achieved by placing cut flowers inside the pages of a heavy book. Use caution when choosing a book, as the drying flowers can water-spot or wrinkle the pages. The pressing method creates two-dimensional flowers that are ideal for paper crafting. The drying time varies based on the thickness of the flowers and how tightly they are pressed.
The most modern method for drying flowers involves the microwave. Using this convenient appliance, you can dry flowers either with silica gel or with a press designed specifically to be heated in the microwave. These are the most rapid methods of drying flowers, with some specimens being finished in a matter of minutes.
Regardless of which method you choose, keep in mind that flowers should be dried at the peak of their freshness for the best results. Waiting until the flowers begin to droop may lead to a finished product with saggy petals or dull color. Plan ahead and you can capture your beautiful blooms at their finest.
Remember that, once dried, flowers are fragile. The leaves and petals may be brittle and should be dusted with caution. Avoid storing dried flowers in areas with extreme temperature changes, dampness, or bright sunlight that may fade their color.
Preserved flowers from your own garden would make a lovely, sentimental gift. You can create a bouquet or shadowbox with dried buds. Pressed flowers would be pretty on a handmade greeting card for Mother’s Day or a thank you note. You are limited only by your imagination, and your gift recipient will surely treasure such a meaningful present.
Whether you’re preserving blossoms that were a gift to you, or you’re giving a gift from your garden, you can capture the fleeting beauty of your flowers. Use these drying techniques to preserve a moment in time or a special sentiment in the form of long-lasting dried flowers.