Preserving Cut And Dried Flowers

Preserving cut or dried flowers is a wonderful way to recycle natural materials and enjoy them year around.

Preserving flowers is a wonderful way to recycle natural materials and enjoy them year around by arranging them in vases, creating wreaths, candle holders and other home decorations. Flowers are not always available year around and preserving them allows you to enjoy a larger range of flowers in and out of season.

There is a large variety of flowers that preserve well. Well known flowers worthy of preserving that you may have in your yard or garden include daffodils, carnations, delphinium, geranium, hibiscus, honeysuckle, hollyhock or jasmine. Country gardens often offer lavender, iris, marigolds, tulips, sunflowers, roses, violets and foret-me-not's as well. Don't forget to try preserving herbs like chamomille, fennel, lemon leaves, pepper mint, rosemary, sage or thyme for a fragrant decorative arrangement. Herbs can also be ground in a blender or coffee grinder for use as a cooking seasoning.

To dry flowers or leaves smashed flat for use in bookmarks or suncatcher crafts, seperate the flower from the stem and put it in between the pages of a large phone book. Be sure and mark the pages so you can find the flowers again easily. Pansies are beautiful dried in this manner but it does not work for all flowers.

A more advanced way to air-dry flowers preserves the stems as well. Start with fresh flowers that are picked during the driest part of the day when the sun has dried the dew. Strip the leaves off the flowers and tie them in small bunches grouping the same kind of flowers together. Choose a dark, part of the house like a closet or attic if it is not dusty. You can also insert the flowers into a paper bag to simulate a dark room. Turn the flowers upside down and hand securely from a hook or nail.

There is not a set guide on how long drying will take. The determining factors are the temperature, humidity and air flow. You can check the flowers every other day and remove them when the petal feel slightly stiff with a paper consistency. If you will not be using your flowers right away, store them away from direct sunlight and damp conditions.

Flowers can also be air-dried by laying them on a cookie sheet that has been covered with newspaper or paper towels. You could also dry them upright if you have a wide lattice screen the flower stems can poke through. This method will keep the flowers upright and open. Prop the screen or cookie sheet under a bed and any area that has low light and dry warm air.

Silica gel is a sandy compound that automatically removes moisture from the flowers. It is available in craft or flower stores and can be re-used over and over. You will need a box of gel and a plastic storage box or recycled ice cream bucket with a airtight lid. Fill your container a little over half way and gently put your fresh cut flowers in the gel - petal side up. Sprinkle more gel on each flower and even in between the petals. You can dry several flowers at once in the same container. Once it has been sealed for several days you can check the flowers. Thick stemmed flowers will take more time of course but generally flowers are preserved in four to five days.

It can be tricky to remove the flowers without breaking the tiny brittle petals. Using a slotted spoon or spatula can help remove the flowers and filter the gel out at the same time. Fore best results, store flowers in a airtight container with a little of the gel left in the bottom.

If you do have petals break off you can glue them back on with a paint brush.

Practice makes perfect so don't give up when trying this craft for the first time. Flowers are worth preserving but can take time to be successful.

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