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Air-Drying Flowers

Three easy methods and the best materials to use.

     Air-drying flowers allows you to salvage certain varieties of aging flowers and turn them from potential waste into profit.

     Also, when great buys like summer roses come along or when garden or roadside flora can be harvested, you can harvest and dry the materials for use in seasonal and holiday designs.

Methods of Air Drying Flowers
     There are three main methods of air drying flowers, and all are relatively simple and require little time and no special equipment. The secret of successful air drying, however, is applying the right method to the right materials.

Method No. 1
Hang upside down
     Gather the flowers into small bunches and secure the stem ends tightly with rubber bands. (Rubber bands are preferred to wire because as the flower stems dry and shrink, rubber bands will contract to hold the bunches together.)

     Hang the bunches, heads down, in a cool, dry, airy and dark place. The location needs to be dry and have circulating air so that the materials will dehydrate, and it needs to be dark so that color will not be bleached from the materials. Even indirect sunlight will bleach drying materials as much as full sunlight.

Method No. 2
Upright in a container
     Place the materials upright in a container that is tall enough to support them. This method is most conducive to grasses and seed heads with a pendulous nature, such as foxtail millet (Setaria) and oats (Avena).

     Other plant materials can be dried by this method as long as they have sufficiently firm stems. Again, conditions must be cool, dry, airy and dark.

Method No. 3
Arrange and dry
     This method involves arranging fresh flowers in either wet or dry floral foam and allowing them to dry in place. It is particularly successful for flowers such as Hydrangeas, Proteas, bells-of-Ireland (Moluccella) and Chinese lanterns (Physalis).


Recommended Air-Drying Methods for Specific Flowers

Allium – No. 2
Artichoke, Globe artichoke, Cardoon (Cynara) – Nos. 1, 3
Baby’s breath (Gypsophila) – No. 1
Banksia – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Bells-of-Ireland (Moluccella) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Billy buttons (Craspedia) – No. 1
Bladder campion (Silene) – No. 2
Chinese lantern (Physalis) – Nos. 2, 3
Columbine (Aquilegia) – Nos. 1, 2
Coxcomb (Celosia) – No. 1
Delphinium – No. 1
Dock (Rumex) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Gayfeather (Liatris) – No. 1
Globe amaranth (Gomphrena) – No. 1
Globe thistle (Echinops) – No. 1
Goldenrod (Solidago) – No. 1
Grasses (Gramineae) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Heather (Erica) – No. 3
Hop (Humulus) – No. 2, 3
Knapweed (Centaurea) – No. 1
Larkspur (Consolida) – No. 1
Lavender (Lavandula) – No. 1
Leucadendron – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Love-in-a–mist (Nigella) – No. 1
Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus) Nos. 2, 3
Globe thistle (Echinops) – No. 1
Masterwort (Astrantia) – No. 1
Mimosa (Acacia) – No. 1
Montbretia (Crocosmia) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Mullein (Verbascum) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Pearl everlasting (Anaphalis) – No. 1
Peony (Paeonia) – Nos. 1, 2
Pincushion flower (Scabiosa) – No. 1
Plume/Wheat Celosia – No. 1
Poppy (Papaver) – No. 1
Prince’s feather (Amaranthus) – No. 1
Protea – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Rose (Rosa) – No. 1
St. John’s wort (Hypericum) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Safflower (Carthamus) – No. 1
Sage, Clary (Salvia) – No. 1
Sea holly (Eryngium) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Statice (Limonium) – No. 1
Stonecrop (Sedum) – Nos. 1, 3
Strawflower (Helichrysum) – No. 1
Tansy (Tanacetum) – No. 1
Teasel (Dipsacus) – Nos. 1, 2, 3
Willow (Salix) – No. 3
Yarrow (Achillea) – No. 1


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