Helichrysum | Author’s photos

As gardeners, we are dedicated to sowing, nurturing and worshiping the flowers we love. Yet it often seems like they ripen, burst into glorious blooms and are gone in no time.

The seeds that we chose so carefully many months ago, after being cared for, carefully maintained, even sung too, have done everything they should and the results can be spectacular. Then, aside from photographs or short videos, they’ve run their course and are done.

But, with some varieties of flowers, this need not be so. With what amounts to little extra effort, a surprising number of flowers, as well as some foliage plants and those with highly ornamental pods, can be dried and enjoyed for a surprisingly long period of time.

Drying flowers, especially in the late 1800s, was quite the thing to do. The resulting dried flowers were presented as attractive interior arrangements or used in a variety of crafts. Dried flowers were essential for crowning handmade straw hats and beanies of various descriptions, for example, and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be anymore. They would make a much better picture than the ugly plastic flowers commonly seen today.

Drying your garden flowers and foliage is a great way to preserve your harvest and decorate your home.

The most successful flower varieties for drying are those with strong, firm or slightly woody stems which, when dry, are strong enough to continue supporting the flower head. These flowers include the ever-popular lavender, limonium/statice, helichrysum/immortelle or strawflower and budding roses.

It is best to harvest flowers intended for drying early in the morning, after the dew has dried. They should be cut with fairly long stems, which can always be shortened when arranging them in a vase or elsewhere. Choose only the best, undamaged flowers and cut them off before they are fully open, as they will continue to open during the drying process.

Roses intended for drying should be cut when in bud or only opening very slightly, otherwise (unless they are subjected to a special microwave drying process) they will drop their petals .

Tie the cut flowers into small bouquets. If the bunches are too thick, the stems in the center of the bunch do not dry out properly and are therefore susceptible to spoilage. Hang the bouquets upside down in a ventilated area, but completely out of direct sunlight, which tends to bleach out all the colors of the flowers as they dry out, and we certainly don’t want that to happen.


Except in high humidity, the bunches should be completely dry within three to four days and can then be used in arrangements or in crafts.

Here are some of the most suitable flower varieties for drying, although of course you should experiment with other varieties as well: Queen Anne’s Lace, Hydrangea, Bud Roses, Limonium/Statica, Helichrysum/Immortelle or Flower strawberries, baby’s breath/gypsophila, celosia cristata/cockscomb, moluccella laevis/bells of Ireland, achillea species/yarrow, gomphrena globosa/globe amaranth, centaurea cyanus/cornflower and lavender.

The pods and seed heads of some plants also make excellent material for dried arrangements and the following are some of the best – these can be left to dry on the plants or, when almost ready to harvest for the collecting seeds, to be cut and dried in the same way as when drying flowers: sunflowers – the globular heads of thistles before they burst, eryngium/sea holly, cape gooseberry/chinese lanterns, nigella damascena/ nigella /love-in-a-mist, papaver/poppies, lunaria/honesty /under-the-sky, and woodland rose.

Lots of grasses, grains of cereals and tree leaves on their branches are also ideal drying materials, whether left to dry in place or cut and treated in the same way as flowers. These include eucalyptus, pampas grass and other feathery grasses, rushes, oats, wheat, barley and millet.


To add more color and extra interest to dried arrangements, you can spice them up using delicate brushes dipped in colored inks, in watercolor paints, in fabric paints, or – with something like sunflower seed heads – you can go to town with a spray paint to create something quite dazzling.

There is also another way to brighten flowers for drying, a very popular way these days to artificially color live flowers. These are photographed and reported on the internet as being rare and unusual flowers – bright blue, bright green and rainbow colored roses being the most common fake flowers.

To color live flowers, all you need is a pot or vase of water to which your favorite food coloring has been added. Select your “victim” – something with pale or indefinite hues is best – a white rose for example. Cut it and immediately place it in the colored water. Over the next few hours, between two hours and 48 hours, as the rose stem drinks the colored water, the flower will change color before your eyes!

Flowers to be dried can be enhanced with color before being dried using this simple process as well.

Add growing flowers for drying purposes to your garden plans and have even more fun!

Please continue to send your gardening questions to [email protected] Don’t forget to include your location. The author does not respond directly by email. Emails with attachments will not be opened

Posted in Dawn, EOS, May 15, 2022


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