Pick flowers in the morning or night when they're perkiest. When it's time to preserve them, use these expert drying techniques.
Make flowers last
As a general rule, flowers usually need water. But if you want to preserve them so that they retain their color and you can admire them for years to come, you’ll instead need to dry them out—and do it right. Luckily, there are several easy methods for how to dry flowers. We break down how to get started and what you’ll need.
How to dry flowers: With the microwave
Dry flowers in minutes instead of weeks by using a microwave. “Pressing flowers in a microwave is a perfectly safe option for those seeking to save time and resources,” says Alfred Palomares. He recommends this method for first-timers. You’ll need the flowers you want to dry, some ceramic plates, a few coffee filters, a heavy book, and your microwave.
How to dry flowers: With silica gel
If you want your flowers to look just like they did in your garden, trying using silica gel. The sandy-like substance can be found at craft stores and works best with sturdy flowers like zinnias or roses. Bury your blooms in a large container of silica gel. In a few days to a week, gently uncover vibrant, preserved flowers.
How to dry flowers: By pressing
To use dried flowers for more than household decorating, use the pressed method. “While this method can be time-consuming, there’s little effort involved and the results are consistently wonderful,” Palomares says. Take an encyclopedia or another heavy book. Line a page with parchment or wax paper and arrange flowers face down so they don’t overlap. Close the book and leave untouched for seven to ten days. Once all the moisture is gone and they have a papery texture, use your pressed flowers to make bookmarks, stationery, or fill a picture frame for pretty wall art.
How to dry flowers: Air drying
Hanging bouquets upside down is the most traditional technique for drying flowers. Gather the flowers in a bunch and secure the stems with a rubber band. Hang upside down in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight, like from kitchen rafters or in an empty closet. Watch the petals shrink and change color, and within a few weeks, you’ll have beautiful dried flowers in vintage hues.
How to dry flowers: The lazy way
Drying flowers in a vase is effortless. Place the stalks in a few inches of water and forget about them. Once all the water is evaporated, the flowers should be upright and perky, but dry. Hydrangeas or baby’s breath are good choices for this method, as blooms with more tender stalks might droop. Simply use the vase as a table decoration or remove the flowers, tie a ribbon around the stems and hang on the wall.
How to dry flowers: Dip them in wax
Up for a challenge? Dipping flowers in wax is the most difficult way to preserve them. Paraffin wax is most commonly used, but soy wax is becoming increasingly popular as it’s readily available and more eco-friendly, Palomares says. The best time to preserve your blooms in wax? At the very end of their shelf life, when you’ve enjoyed them for about a week and they’re in full bloom. Preserving your flowers in wax isn’t easy to master, Palomares admits. “But once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can make flowers last longer than you ever imagined.”