How to dry flowers and plants?
Drying flowers and plants is a great method to extend their decorativeness. Check out the most effective methods of drying flowers, herbs and grasses recommended by florists.
Drying plant materials is the simplest and cheapest method of obtaining dry decorative materials. Drying plants involves removing water from their tissues. In order for drying to go smoothly, we need to take into account several aspects such as:
- Species – not all plants tolerate drying well. An example can be commonly known bulb plants, such as tulip or narcissus. These flowers contain large amounts of water in their tissues, which promotes rotting when the bulb flowers are dried.
- Air temperature - drying of flowers must not be carried out with too high a temperature, because the plants become brittle and fall apart. The optimum temperature for drying plants is 40 Celsius degrees.
- Air humidity – too high air humidity prolongs drying of flowers. This, in turn, promotes rotting and the formation of mold on the tissues of dried plants, which consequently lose their decorative value.
- The amount of dried plants – the fewer plants in a given room, the easier it is to dry them. The same applies to drying plants using the bundle method: the fewer plants in a dried bunch, the faster they will be dried.
- Sunlight – the intensity of the dyes that determine the color of the garden plants we dry depends on the influence of sunlight on them. In the dark, the chlorophyll found in dried plants does not break down as quickly as in the light. After being kept in bright rooms, the dried plants then have a natural, not faded, greenish color.
The most popular methods of drying flowers and plants
The most popular method of preparing flowers and plants for solid floral compositions is drying them. You can dry flowers and plants using several methods.
A method of hanging flowers and plants for drying purposes
The most popular method of drying flowers and plants is to hang the cut shoots with the flowers downwards in an airy, warm and dark room. Plants are best tied with a rubber band, because when using wire or strings, the dried stems shrink and fall out. In turn, a room deprived of sunlight will ensure better preservation of the color of flowers. It should be borne in mind that an airy room will ensure faster drying by removing excess water vapor from the air.
Drying flowers and plants in a book - herbarium method
The herbarium method involves drying flowers between sheets of paper (books, newspapers). It should be remembered that the herbarium method will be perfect for plants with poorly hydrated tissues, such as pansy or poppy.
Place the flowers between the layers of paper and check at least once a week that the water from the dried plants has not caused them to rot. To make sure the plants dry well, replace the paper once a week. Such dried flowers are perfect for creating collages and herbariums.
Drying plants in an upright position
Vertical drying is another popular method of plant preservation. Thanks to this, we obtain dried plants with a natural shape of shoots, flowers, inflorescences and fruits. Ideally suited for drying in an upright position are:
- Blue eryngo, flat sea holly (Eryngium planum)
- The yarrow, fernleaf yarrow, milfoil, nosebleed (Achillea filipendulina)
- Common cattail, broadleaf cattail, cattail (Typha)
- Wavyleaf sea lavender, statice, sea lavender, notch leaf marsh rosemary, sea pink (Limonium sinuatum)
To dry plants in an upright position, simply place them in a tall vase with a little water. If you only care about the flowers when drying, shake the excess leaves off the stem. The water will gradually evaporate and the plants will dry out without changing their natural shape.
Method of drying flowers on the net
The method of drying flowers on a net is ideal for drying the inflorescences of Asteraceae plants (curry plant, sunflower, marigold, purple coneflower) and plant fruits and inflorescences (corn cob, cones, pods). The net drying method involves arranging the flowers or fruit of the plants on the net to ensure a good supply of air.
Hygroscopic drying of flowers and plants
Recently, a very fashionable method of drying plants is placing them in loose materials with high hygroscopic properties. Usually, sand or sand with borax, corn flour and fine cat litter (silica gel) are used as drainage material.
Flowers or whole bouquets are placed in a cardboard or plastic container and then tightly covered with loose material. Spreading should be done carefully so that every part of the plant is thoroughly covered with a hygroscopic substance. Depending on the quantity and the species to be dried, the drying process in the hygroscopic material may take from one week to a month.
For drying in materials with high hygroscopic properties, the following are ideal:
- Ox-eye daisy, dog daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
- Chrysanthemum santini
Plants dry up quickly in silica gel, because it absorbs moisture much more than flour or sand.
How to dry plants in the microwave?
If you want to dry flowers and plants in a microwave oven, remember that this is an amateur method with a very low efficiency. It allows for quick drying of the material with a small volume.
How to dry flowers in the microwave without silica?
Place the flowers or entire plant fragments in a vessel with loose, hygroscopic material (i.e. sand), and then turn on the microwave for 2 minutes. After removing the vessel, wait 10 minutes for it to cool down, and then gently remove the dried material.
Preserving flowers and plants in glycerin (glycerol)
Preserving the flowers in glycerin gives the plants flexibility while maintaining their natural shape. In this way, individual leaves and branches as well as entire inflorescences and panicles of grasses can be prepared.
The following branches are recommended for preserving in glycerin:
- Birch (Betula)
- Beech (Fagus)
- Barberry (Berberis)
- Privet (Ligustrum)
- Oak (Quercus)
The best for preservatio in glycerin are shoots 50 cm long, cut diagonally and split. Remember to immediately insert them into the glycerin solution after trimming. Preparation time is from a few days to 2-3 weeks.
The humidity of the air has the greatest influence on the speed of glycerin uptake by preserving shoots. The higher the humidity, the longer the glycerol uptake is. It is important that glycerin is constantly available for uptake by cut shoots, because its deficiency or interruptions in uptake lead to twisting of shoots and leaves.
Place the vessel with the plants in a bright room, preferably at a temperature of 15-18 Celsius degrees. In such conditions plants transpire and take up the solution very well. Plants are preserved in glycerin until they obtain a silky shine. It usually takes from a few to several days.
The leaves of the preserved plants acquire a gloss and change their color to dark green, maroon or brown. After the shoots are preserved, they should be spread out on a piece of paper. Plants prepared in this way are an ideal material for creating dry compositions. If the glycerin-preserved shoots are to be used in live plant compositions, the stems should be protected by dipping them in paraffin.
Harvesting flowers and plants for preservation with glycerin
We collect lignified shoots of trees and shrubs. The fully developed leaves are ideal for preparation in glycerin. It is best to cut the grasses during the heading stage, as their old inflorescences are not able to take up glycol.
Glycerin solution for flowers and plants preservation
The optimal ratio of glycerin solution is: 1 part glycerin to 2 parts water. Remember that glycerin dissolves only in hot water. Adding a little salt (0.6 g / 1 liter of solution) will speed up the intake. The leaves of beech, oak and white trees are perfectly preserved in glycol.
Glycerin solution for preserving herbaceous plants
This method is ideal for the preparation of delphiniums, limonium and molucella laevis. Place the freshly cut plants in a glycerin solution (200 ml of glycerin per 1 liter of water) for about 4-5 days, with access to light and a temperature of 15-18 Celsius degrees.
Skeletonizing of leaves and selected fruits
Although skeletonization does not involve drying plants, it is a procedure that allows plant material to be preserved. Leaves (magnolia, oak, ivy, beech, hornbeam, etc.) and fruit (e.g. tomatillo, datura) are ideal for skeletonization.
There are several leaf skeletonizing methods.
The most popular is to put the leaves in a solution of 20% sulfuric or hydrochloric acid. After 3-5 days, the parenchyma is destroyed. Only the nerves in the form of a net remain. The parts of plants prepared in this way should be rinsed in water and the remains of the parenchyma tissue removed mechanically, for example with a brush.
Preserving of plants in salt
By preserving plants in a salt solution, twigs that look like frost can be obtained. Live or dried shoots are placed in a salt solution for 24 hours (in the proportion: 2 parts salt: 1 part water). After this time, the twigs are spread out on paper to dry or hung in small bunches in a dark room. After drying, the shoots look snow-covered, thanks to the salt crystals embedded on them.
Preserving of plants in sugar
The treatment consists in covering the edible parts of the plants with sugar crystals. Before being processed in sugar, the plants are moistened in beaten egg white, then coated in sugar.
The following flowers are ideal for preservation in sugar:
- Herb leaves (mint, lemon balm)
The best flowers for dry bouquets
There are many types and species of plants to be dried off. Apart from the leaves and twigs of trees and shrubs, shoots, flowers and fruit of perennials and annual plants are also well-preserved.
The most popular plants used in dry arrangements are:
- Armeria (Armeria)
- Celosia (Celosia)
- Centaury (Centaurea)
- Mullein (Verbascum)
- Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)
- Yarrow, fernleaf yarrow, milfoil (Achillea filipendulina)
- Billy buttons (Craspedia)
- Goldentop grass, the golden dog's-tail (Lamarckia)
- Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi)
- Goldenrod (Solidago)
- Baby's breath (Gypsophyla paniculata)
- Spear thistle (Cirsium)
- Common cattail, broadleaf cattail, cattail (Typha)
- Goat's beard (Aruncus dioicus)
- Chinese peony or common garden peony (Paeonia)
- Coneflower (Rudbeckia)
- Annual everlasting, immortelle (Xeranthemum)
- False goat's beard, false spirea (Astilbe)
- Timothy (Phleum)
- Limonium (Limonium)
- Everlasting daisy (Ammobium alatum)
The fashion for dried plant compositions comes and goes. With the growing interest in dry flowers, the requirements for their quality also increase. Plants that perfectly keep not only their shape but also color are more and more willingly used. In the consolidation of plant material, drying and preparation under controlled conditions play an increasingly important role. Plant lovers use them successfully to be able to enjoy their beauty also in winter.