Since many of us have been stuck indoors thanks to COVID-19, now is the perfect time to resort to an age-old practice that seems to be growing more popular these days – dried floral arrangements. Not only will they brighten any home but flowers are also known to reduce stress levels.
There is a myriad of reasons why people dry flowers; a practice which can be traced back to Egypt after the oldest preserved flowers were discovered inside a 2000-year-old coffin unearthed in a Roman tomb. While dried flowers are used for burial rituals and ceremonies, people have smoked dried flowers since ancient times.
Different flowers were smoked for different reasons. Dried mullein flowers were smoked to cleanse the lungs; rose petals were rolled as cigarettes to use as an aphrodisiac and to decrease depression; lavender buds were tossed in the smokable herbs mix for flavor; dried blue lotus was smoked for its psychoactive properties.
Sacred flowers were also used to make incense sticks in India. In ancient rituals, essences were extracted from dried flowers for cosmetics or medicinal purposes.
Nowadays the majority of people dry beautiful blooms to reduce floral waste and to use for decorative purposes. Not all flowers dry well however. To make it easy for you, we’ve curated a list of the best flowers to use for dried floral arrangements:
Endemic to Australia, everlasting strawflowers are the easiest flowers to dry since they dry perfectly with few issues. These long-blooming, drought-tolerant beauties are the ideal flowers to grow in a sustainable garden. Cut blooms at the desired phase of openness or before they peak and when you dry them, they will hold their shape at the harvest stage. If you’re looking to create a cost-effective bouquet or arrangement, combine dried everlasting strawflowers with fresh flowers.
Hydrangeas are one of the most popular flowers to dry. They add fullness to any floral arrangement as they come in a range of blue, white, pink and red hues and the plants hold their colour well when dried.
They are also one of the easiest flowers to preserve since they dry in a couple of weeks. Cut the blooms and just pop in a vase with water for display. You can leave the flowers in the vase when the water dries out and they will continue to preserve and retain their colors in the case.
The best time to cut these flowers for drying and preservation purposes is towards the end of its growing season. Harvest when the larger petals are about to change color and has a papery texture to it.
Roses represent beauty, love, romance, elegance and a whole lot more. It is no wonder why it has been dubbed the king of flowers. Whether they are given fresh or dried, the beauty of a rose is incomparable.
Drying roses should be done before they begin to wilt since fresh blooms produce the best dried flowers. The most popular method for drying them is to gather the stems in a bunch, tie them up and hang them upside down to dry. Place them in a cool, dark place to dry for several weeks. This method preserves the richness of its color and will simultaneously prevent it from molding.
An Australian native species, the dainty round blooms of billy buttons add a cheerful splash of color and texture to your dried floral arrangements. Their natural golden color and tall stems can brighten any bouquet and they can also be dyed if you wish to change the hue.
Dry this plant as you would the rose by gathering the billy button stems in a bunch, tie them together and hang them upside down to dry in a dark and dry place for about 2-4 weeks. These dried flowers can last for several years if they are kept in a place that is cool and dry, away from sunlight.
This Australian flowering species produce unique cylindrical cones that come in vibrant hues such as red, yellow, pink and camel. After drying, their color fades to tan which is perfect for wreaths and long-lasting bouquets.
The best way to dry banksias is to use the hang dry method. Before gathering the stems in a bunch, the leaves must be removed first. Tie them together and hang upside down to dry in a dark place such as a shed, closet or basement and away from sunlight to preserve its colors. Leave them hanging upside down for about three weeks or until they are completely dry.
Gypsophila (Baby’s Breath)
Harvest gypsophila when half of the flowers have started to unfurl. Cut the ones you have chosen for drying and tie 5-7 stems securely with twine or rubber band and hang them upside down to dry in a cool, dry and dark place.
These delicate beauties are a regular feature in many dried floral arrangements though can cause more allergies than fresh ones.
These pretty blue flowers are best harvested for drying when the dew has dried so wait until later in the morning to harvest them. Be sure to gather them for drying when the flowers are at the perfect phase of blooming. How can you tell when they are in the right stage of blooming? Check the petals in the middle to see if they are still pointing upwards and if they are, they are ready to be harvested for drying. The best method for drying is air drying in a cool, dark and dry place.
Let’s not forget lavender. They are magical. Used for many things such as tea, aromatherapy, skin and hair care, they also make wonderful additions to dried bouquets.
Harvest lavender before the full sun hits them so their essential oil gets preserved. Hang them to dry inside a paper bag and make sure to create a few slits on the paper bag for air circulation. Place them in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight for a few weeks.
A paper bag is essential as some of the buds fall off the stem. They are caught at the bottom of the bag so you can still use them to add in your smokable herbs and if you’re not into that, put them in a sachet and use them as potpourri. Dried lavender make a great decorative in baskets and vases.
Bunny tail grass
Popular in modern dried floral arrangements, the soft look of bunny tail grass add a nice ornamental edge to any beautiful bouquet.
Just like most of the plants on this list, air drying them for several weeks is the best method to dry these flowers. Since they can look drab sometimes, some will use food coloring to dye these blooms for an additional spot of color in their arrangements.
The Guardian Lavender variety of larkspur is the most popular larkspur for drying. They only need a couple of weeks of hanging upside down in a cool, dry place to dry before they can be used in arrangements. Make sure to choose a location that offers plenty of ventilation. Fresh or dried, these gorgeous blooms make a great addition to any floral arrangement.
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Cover image by Rie Rosa.