Drying And Arranging Fresh Flowers

Instructions to preserve fresh flowers through two drying methods.

Dried flowers make very attractive centerpieces, adding a touch of texture and color to any décor. Arrangements can be created to suit any scheme that needs complimenting. There are two methods utilized to dry fresh flowers: "air drying" and the use of a drying agent. Both methods are quite simple and produce wonderful results.

When choosing the flowers you wish to dry, pick only vibrant, flawless blooms and leaves. If you pick your own, do so on a day that is dry and clear. You can also use cut flowers from your local florist, keeping in mind that freshness is essential. Your choices should be limited to flowers that contain no diseases, insects, or excess moisture. Once you have made your selections, prepare your blooms for drying. You should proceed with the drying process at once to insure proper preservation.

The "air drying" technique works particularly well for petite blossoms that grow in groups. Employ the following steps to utilize this process:

1. Detach all of the leaves, excluding one singular leaf next to each blossom.

2. Assemble the flowers into miniature bouquets, binding the stems firmly with rubber bands, wire, or string. If using string or wire, tighten every 2-3 days. The stems will shrink upon drying.

3. Suspend the floral clusters upside down. Place in a locale that is well ventilated, arid, and dark.

4. Check the flowers often. This method usually takes 2-4 weeks to completely preserve your blooms. Take care not to let your flowers become overly brittle! They should remain a bit flexible when completed.

The second method used to dry flowers requires the use of a drying agent. Silica gel is one such agent. You should use a drying agent if the flowers you wish to preserve have wide, full buds. Thicker flowers have a tendency to lighten and mold when permitted to "air dry". Silica gel or other drying agents should be readily available at your local craft store or florist. When deciding on flowers you wish to dry with this method, choose those that have similar dimensions. To begin, proceed with the following steps:

1. Prepare the flowers by detaching all of their leaves and diminishing each stem's length to ½-1 inch.

2. Place a layer of the drying agent into a container (make sure you have a lid that seals it tightly). This layer should be about I-inch thick.

3. Place your prepared flowers on top of the agent as follows: blooms that grow upward should be positioned face-up, flowers that grow outward should be placed facedown, and foliage (greenery and sprays) needs to be situated parallel to the agent's surface.

4. Add more drying agent, totally concealing the flowers.

5. Cover the container and place in a dark, cool location.

6. This process takes about 1 week to preserve your blooms. Check them often. The petals of the flowers should be hard, but retain their elasticity.

7. When dried, discard the drying agent.

8. To enable the dried blooms to be displayed, ease floral wire through each flower and fasten with floral tape. This produces a stem.

After drying your flowers, you may wish to arrange them. To do this, select a container to display them in. Baskets and decorative tins, jars, and vases are only a few suggestions. You will need floral foam or clay to insure your dried flowers stay in place. If using the foam, pack it tightly into the container. If using clay, you will need a pin holder. Use the clay to attach the pin holder to the container you have chosen.

To begin creating your dried floral arrangements, select flowers that are about the same size. When arranging flowers, generating an over all sense of balance is crucial. You can provide balance to your handiwork by using a symmetrical or asymmetrical configuration. Symmetrically balanced arrangements appear even, each side corresponding in size, form, and position. Asymmetrical balance is achieved by using irregular shapes. A feeling of unity should also be provided in your arrangement. Grouping comparable flowers, or merging a diversity of colors and/or textures, can accomplish unity. If you use several varieties of dried flowers, make sure to add a few strategically placed blooms. This will present a focal point to your arrangement. Arrange your dried flowers by placing some into the container you have selected, establishing a shape. Next, add filling by using either subtle, ordinary blooms, greenery, and/or light. Place your most outstanding flowers in last. These flowers should be placed in the central portion of your arrangement, providing its focal point.

Dried floral arrangements make wonderful gifts. They can provide a lasting way to remember special occasions, seasons, and holidays as well. Young and old can join in this process, making it an excellent family craft. All you need are a few dried flowers, a container, and lots of imagination! Create unusual designs or unique, traditional arrangements. The possibilities are endless!

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