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Drying Flowers

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Pansies being pressed in a large book

Save some of those beautiful flowers gracing your garden by drying them. This is a guide about drying flowers.


Solutions: Drying Flowers

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Tip: Drying Flowers With Cat Litter

At this time of year, we have a lot of beautiful flowers blooming. A cheaper way of drying them is to use a cheap cat litter. Make sure you use the plain clay litter. Line a box with paper towels, put a layer of cat litter on the paper towels. Place your roses (or flowers to be dried) on the litter, making sure they aren't touching. Gently add more of the litter to cover the flowers. They should be dry in about 10 days. Shake them gently to remove excess litter. Spray with the cheap super-hold hair spray. It will seal and protect them. It will take along time to use up all the litter and it works better than the expensive silica gel. The results will be beautiful.

By Dorothy from New Creek, WV

Tip: Drying Flowers in a Book

Pansies being pressed in a large bookThis time of year, we have a small blooming plant that comes up everywhere that we call Johnny Jump Ups. They look like tiny pansies. Each year, I pick lots of them to dry for my crafts the coming year. I thought I would share my best tip for drying flowers with the dimensions these have.

As you see in the photo, lay the open side toward the spine of a book, slightly press open the larger ones to assure they will lay flat. Then slowly close the book, watching to make sure you don't bend a petal. This book is full of all sorts of leaves and blossoms. I store my dried things it in until I need them, that way they don't get broken.

If I need the room to dry more, I use a 3-ring binder with the clear plastic sleeves. Put the dried flowers or leaves on a used dryer sheet and carefully slide all down into the clear plastic sleeve.

By latrtatr from Loup City, NE

Editor's Note: Most flowers will leave a small stain on the pages of the book.

Article: How to Press Flowers

Pressed Flowers in a BookPressing flowers is a great way to preserve them. Once pressed and dry, pressed flowers usually retain their color fairly well, which makes them useful for making a variety of decorative crafts, such as stationery, placemats, and bookmarks. The pressing process is simple and can be accomplished without the use of any fancy tools. In addition to pressing flowers, you can also get good results pressing herbs, mosses, and lichens.

Selecting Plants for Pressing

The best flowers for pressing have simple shapes and heads that flatten well. For example, flowers like violets are easier to press than larger, trumpet-shaped lilies. The end goal with pressing flowers is to remove the moisture, while retaining as much color as possible. Large double flowers like tea roses will flatten easier if some of the petals near the inner core are removed before pressing. For peonies, you may want to press individual petals rather than the entire flower head. You can also press ornamental grasses, herbs, trees leaves, ferns, mosses and lichens. Have fun and experiment. Try pressing plants and flowers in different stages of growth, for example mature flowers and their buds. As with any new project, its always a good idea to jot down a few notes in your garden journal about what steps you take and what works and what doesnt.

Harvesting Plant Materials

The best picking time to pick plant materials for pressing is on a dry day in the late morning before the sun gets too warm. Ideally, you want the parts of the plant that you will be pressing to contain as much water as possible at the time of harvest. Wilted leaves and flowers dont press well, so try to press your plant materials immediately after you harvest them, or place them in the refrigerator or in a container of cold water until youre ready.

Make You Own Flower Press

Book press: You dont need any elaborate tools to press flowers. All you need is a telephone directory or a heavy book like a dictionary. Sandwich your plant materials between sheets of blotting paper (tissue paper, paper towels or coffee filters) and a final layer of printer paper to prevent ink from staining the flowers and moisture from staining the bookthen insert them between the pages of the book. You can stack heavier books on top of your book press if you need extra weight. Leave them inside the book for up to 6 weeks or until theyre completely dry.

Plywood press: You can make an even sturdier flower press from two small pieces of plywood. The advantage to this type of press is that it enables you to exert more pressure, which will give you faster and better looking results. Cut two pieces of heavy gauge plywood into 14 x 16 rectangles. Drill a hole in each corner of both pieces of plywood, then use long bolts with wing nuts to connect the boards at each of the four corners. Like using a book press, you will layer your plant material between blotting paper, insert them between the pieces of plywood and tighten the wing nuts to exert pressure.

Step by Step Directions for Pressing Flowers

  1. Place several layers of absorbent paper (newspaper or printer paper) on your plywood board (or in an open page of your heavy book).
  2. Put down a layer of blotting paper (white paper towels or coffee filters work well for this), and arrange your flowers over as much of the blotting paper as possible. Dont overlap the leaves, petals, and stems or they will stick together.
  3. After youve arranged the flowers, add another piece or two of blotting paper on top, followed by several more sheets of absorbent paper, and then more blotting paper and another layer of flowers, etc. Make as many layers as you want.
  4. Keep your press in a warm, dry place to prevent mold from forming. After the first 3 days of pressing, change the layers of absorbent paper, leaving the blotting paper intact to avoid disturbing the flowers.
  5. Dry paper and strong pressure will accelerate the pressing process and give the best color results. For the remainder of the pressing process (2 weekslonger for very succulent material) periodically check the absorbent layer of paper and change it as necessary to keep it dry. Plant materials are fully pressed when they are crisp to the touch and can be kept in the press until you are ready to use them.
  6. If you prefer, once your pressed planted material is completely dry, you can seal it by spraying a sealant (both sides) with UV protection. Sealants are available in aerosol cans at art supply stores, or anywhere that spray paint is sold.
  7. Stabilizing Color

    Flowers: The color red is difficult to retain in pressed flowers. One way to help preserve the pigments is to gently dip the flower head in a little bit of vinegar and pat it dry before pressing.

    Fall foliage: Stabilize the colors of fall leaves by covering them with a thin cloth and ironing them with a moderately hot iron. To find the right temperature, try experimenting on a few test leaves first. Large leaves, such as those of beech, witch hazel and maple, can be ironed directly.

    Ideas for Using Pressed Flowers

    You may want to press flowers to remember a special occasion, or simply tuck a few of your favorites into your garden journal. Here are some additional ways to use them:
    • Make acrylic box frame arrangements to hang on the wall.
    • Decoupage pressed flowers onto serving trays, wooden boxes, storage canisters, or wall plaques.
    • Place pressed flowers between two pieces of clear vinyl adhesive (shelf lining paper) and use a beveled-edge craft scissors to cut out bookmarks or placemats.
    • Apply pressed flowers to candles, ceramic tiles, glass, lampshades, or attach them to felt and make them into magnets.
    • Decorate scrapbooks and photo albums.
    • Use them to make homemade paper or add them to cards and stationery.
    • Decoupage them onto clear glass ornaments for Christmas.
    • Use them to embellish gift wrap.

Tip: Drying Daffodil Flowers

Just pick the flowers with the stems on and put them in a vase of water. Leave them in the vase and replenish the water as needed, until the daffodil flowers are completely dry. It takes about a week. I don't know why they dry so well this way, but it is simple and works great. I use the dried heads in wreath making.

By Anne from Green Bay, WI

Tip: Dry Flowers with Kitty Litter

To dry your flowers, cut the flower so one inch of the stem is left on. Place face up into a coffee can full of kitty litter, pour more kitty litter to cover the flower. (Roses should only be half opened.) This can take a few days to a few weeks depending on the humidity and the flower. Great way to save prom, wedding, or a garden flowers.

By Dee

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Here are questions related to Drying Flowers.

Question: Drying Flower Petals for Sachets

Any suggestions on drying flower petals for use later in sachet bags? I don't have a lot of space and laying them out for days is really inconvenient. If anyone knows of a quicker method please please share.

By Betty


Most Recent Answer

By DeBushe [18]05/27/2013

Another possibility would be a set of stacked sweater drying racks. Those might be easier to find than the fruit drying racks. I used to have one that would dry 3 sweaters at a time.

Question: Drying Hydrangea Flowers

How do you dry hydrangea flowers? I have them hung upside down and do not know what to do next. Thanks.

By Susan

Question: Cat Litter For Drying Flowers

Does anyone know if you can use silica gel cat litter for drying flowers? It seems like it would be a lot cheaper than special flower drying silica gel.

By Brenda


Most Recent Answer

By Gloria Coonradt M. [1]08/11/2011

The best thing to use would probably be clay kitty litter, and it may be cheaper.

Question: Drying Flowers in Microwave

How do I dry flowers using the microwave?

Sheila from Mars Hill, NC

Question: Drying Fresh Flowers in a Bridal Bouquet

I'm hoping someone will give me 'tried and true' instructions on how to dry fresh flowers. My daughter is getting married soon and although its unconventional, she has promised to give me her bridal bouquet as a memento of that special day.

We are extremely close, so her gift to me will be very special and precious. I would much prefer some advice from someone who has actually done it successfully. Websites are sometimes a hit or miss affair.

Cettina from Malta, Europe

Most Recent Answer

By denise w (Guest Post)03/01/2008

As said earlier some flowers will not dry out and stay together but I do this professionally for my business, and all you have to do is remove flowers from form and rubber band together and hang from say your curtain rod. It takes from 1-4 weeks depending on moisture in the air, but it works well after they are dry spray with hairspray to keep intact.

Question: Drying Roses

How do you dry a rose to keep it forever?

Cassie from Dublin

Most Recent Answer

By Brent Weidman (Guest Post)03/23/2008

Try Dry Ice.


Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Drying Roses

I am looking for free way to dry roses. Thank you for any help on this subject.

Aquarius_Justme from Ontario Canada

RE: How to Dry Roses? 02/25/2001
Hang them UPSIDE DOWN in a place where they might get a breeze, esp. a warm breeze. In one office where we got lots of flowers, I found that behind the copier, there's a vent. I hung roses upside-down (rubberband around the stems and paper clip through the rubberband) somewhere where they wouldn't get bumped. After a week they were hard and pretty.
By raptorrunner
RE: How to Dry Roses? 02/27/2001
I received some long-stemmed roses and dried them by putting a rubber band around the bottom of them, attaching them to a coat hanger and hanging them upside down in the garage. They turned out just beautiful. Then my daughter brought over some dried hyderangea from her yard and made me a wall tree using a 4' artificial Xmas tree as a base and covered it completely so that you could not see the green at all. We bought an angel bowl wall vase for the bottom of the tree and put small white lights throughout the tree plus some small "robins" and a "z" (shape of design) ribbon across it. I receive never-ending compliments on it. Lori
RE: How to Dry Roses? 03/02/2001
I tie a string to mine and hang them upside down until dry! Takes about 1 week this way.
By Diane in MICHIGAN
RE: How to Dry Roses? 03/02/2001
Before the roses become ugly, take them out of the water, strip the remaining leaves off and group a few together with a rubber band and hang upside down in a dark place to dry. Hanging upside down keeps the stem and flower head in a straight upright position. I don't know if this is the correct way to do it, but I spray mine a number of times with clear aerosol spray ... makes them shiny and sturdy. Add some artificial greenery to your arrangement. It looks pretty and lasts for a long time and it is practically FREE since you would otherwise have thrown out dead flowers!
By Syd - Dunkirk, MD
RE: How to Dry Roses? 03/03/2001
Yes a dehydrater will do the trick. Also, try tieing them together with a rubberband or string then just hang them upside down from a hook or make a drying rack out of wood or twigs. They will dry beautifully.
By B. Brudon
RE: How to Dry Roses? 03/04/2001
You can also dry them in the microwave in very fine cat litter. They really retain their color this way. Just make sure that you sprinkle the cat litter in between the petals so they will hold their shape.
By marbles
RE: Drying Roses 10/25/2005
As the roses start to fade, place them in a vase with NO water, allow to air dry (allow for plenty of circulation). Once completely dry, place in a ziplock bag. I have done this with every rose my husband has ever sent me and I plan on using the petals when our 2 daughters get married!
By Diana
RE: Drying Roses 10/28/2005
The best way I have found to dry roses is to bundle them in no more than 5 roses somewhat loosley, and tie with double rubber bands and hang upside down in a darker room for several days or even weeks. As the roses dry the rubber bands will shrink with the stems so they won't fall out of the bundle.I use a paper clip that has been opened up and insert it in the rubber bands and then you have something to hang it from. Remove all leaves. Hope this helps.
By Connie

Archive: Drying Flowers

Tips and ideas for drying flowers. Feel free to post your ideas.

RE: Drying Flowers

Even with the increased popularity of plastic and fiber flowers (silk for example), many people still prefer "the real thing" preserved in a lifelike manner. Flower preservation has become a popular hobby. Flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, goldenrod, yarrow, roses, and hydrangeas are readily available and the costs of additional materials needed are relatively inexpensive when compared to that of other hobbies.

You can preserve colored fall leaves, magnolia leaves (for wreaths) and mistletoe (for holiday decorations) with glycerin, giving them a very natural appearance. Many people like to preserve the flowers from a wedding bouquet.

Preserving flowers and foliage can be fun year round. Some of the more common methods employed to preserve flowers and foliage are covered below. (08/01/2007)

By lewis_admin

Archive: Drying Flowers

We have beautiful flowers in our country like roses and carnations. I would like to dry them without changing their color. Any ideas how I can do it? Thanks.