Summer is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest, and that means flowers! We are lucky to have so many beautiful varieties. Drying is a great way to keep those summer flowers around all year long. You can dry whole flowers for arrangements or crafts, or just the blossoms or petals to make tea or potpourri. Roses, lavender, and delphinium are some examples of flowers that hold their shape and color when dried, but there are many good choices.
Collect flowers before they are fully open. They will open a bit more while drying, and if they are too mature you risk losing petals. Make sure they are fresh and dry. Once picked, keep the flowers out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.
Hang any flowers that you want to keep on the stem upside down, so they dry straight. Wrap the flowers in bundles small enough to allow airflow to the blossoms in the center. Leave the stems as long as possible. Wrap the stems tightly; they will shrink a little as they dry. I usually use hemp or a strong rubber band, like the kind you get from broccoli at the supermarket. If the flower heads are round, try to stagger them a bit to improve airflow. If the blooms are very full, like rose or thistle, and you have enough space, hanging them individually will allow them to keep their shape better and dry faster.
The best places for drying flowers are warm, dry, out of direct sunlight, and out of the way, so they can remain undisturbed for a few weeks. I usually use closets (in my house the water heater closet works best) or the corners of a garage. I string a line or two across the drying area. Then I attach my bundles to the line, either by tying them on, or by unfolding a paperclip (so it makes an S shape) and hooking one end to the bundle, and one end to the string. Leave plenty of room for the air to flow between bunches. Leave them hanging for one to three weeks, checking on them occasionally. When all of the parts are dry, including the stems, it is time to take them down. They can be used immediately for their intended purpose, or wrapped carefully in newspaper and stored in a safe place. The dried flowers will be fragile.
If you are planning to use your dried flowers to make tea or potpourri, it is faster and easier to dry the petals or the flower head rather than the whole plant. Cut the flower heads from the stem or the petals from the calyx and spread out on a screen or mesh. Set the screen up so that there is airflow underneath it, either by hanging it or propping it up on something. Then put it a warm, dry, place out of the sun. Stir the petals around every day or so. This method is faster than drying whole flowers, and usually takes about a week. You can store your petals in mason jars or Ziploc bags until you are ready to use them.
It is super easy to bring the beauty of summer into your home all year. It only takes is a little bit of effort and some time.
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