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How do you dry flowers to keep them forever?

Drying flowers is a great way to preserve them for years to come. With the proper drying method and care, dried flowers can maintain their shape, scent, and color for many years. Here are some tips on how to dry flowers at home to keep them looking beautiful forever.

Why Dry Flowers?

There are several reasons why people dry flowers:

  • To preserve wedding flowers, corsages, or bouquets as mementos
  • To keep flowers from a loved one’s funeral
  • To create everlasting arrangements for home decor
  • To have flowers available out of season for craft projects
  • To make potpourri, sachets, or fragrant decor

Drying allows you to keep sentimental flowers or create stunning arrangements that can be enjoyed indefinitely. With the right drying method, dried flowers can look and smell nearly as good as when they were fresh.

What Flowers Dry Best?

The key to successfully drying flowers is choosing varieties that dry well. Some flowers simply retain their shape and color better than others. Some good choices include:

  • Lavender
  • Statice
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Roses
  • Hydrangea
  • Larkspur
  • Yarrow
  • Marigold
  • Strawflower
  • Cockscomb

Flowers with thin, delicate petals like pansies, violas, and gardenias are harder to dry successfully. Avoid dahlias, zinnias, and gladiolas as well. Thick, waxy petals don’t dry well.

When to Pick Flowers for Drying

Harvest flowers for drying in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun gets too hot. Choose newly opened, healthy blooms that have not quite reached full maturity. Fully open flowers are past their prime and will not hold up as well.

Cut the stems longer than you need, at least 6 inches. Use a sharp blade for clean cuts that will absorb water better.

Preparation Methods

There are two main methods for preparing fresh flowers for drying:

  1. Air drying – Hang flowers upside down or stand upright in a dry, dark space with good airflow.
  2. Sand drying – Bury or wrap flowers in sand, borax or silica gel to draw out moisture.

Air drying works well for many easy to dry species. Sand drying accelerates the process and can be helpful for delicate flowers. We’ll go over both techniques in detail below.

Air Drying Flowers

Air drying takes advantage of natural airflow to gradually pull moisture from the flowers. Here are some tips for successful air drying:

  • Strip away excess leaves and foliage so only the flowers and a bit of stem remain.
  • Tie small bundles with rubber bands or string. Bundle together flowers of similar weight and thickness.
  • Hang bundles upside down in a warm, dry, dark area. Hang them away from direct light.
  • Allow 1-3 weeks for drying. Check for crispness before removing.
  • You can also dry flowers standing upright by placing bundles in vases or jars with the stems submerged in sand.
  • Flowers dried upright take a bit longer than hung flowers.

Areas like attics, sheds, and garages work well for air drying. A closet or cabinet where air circulates but light is limited also does the trick. Be sure the space is clean, dry, dark, and well-ventilated.

Tips for Air Drying Success

  • Dry flowers out of direct sunlight or they will fade.
  • Avoid high humidity or dried flowers may mold.
  • Use weights on hanging bundles if needed to keep stems straight.
  • Mist flowers lightly with hairspray to help hold shape.
  • Hang or stand flowers away from air vents to prevent blowing.
  • Turn flowers drying upright every few days to encourage even drying.

Drying in Desiccants

Desiccants are drying agents that accelerate drying time by absorbing moisture from flowers. Some common desiccants used are:

  • White sand
  • Silica gel
  • Borax

These supplies can be found affordably at most craft stores. To dry flowers this way:

  1. Clean and prepare flowers as described above.
  2. Fill a cardboard box or plastic tub with a 2-3 inch layer of desiccant.
  3. Lay flower heads face up on the desiccant. Gently spoon more over the tops to cover completely.
  4. Allow 1-2 weeks for thorough drying. Check for brittleness.
  5. Shake off excess sand or borax before using dried flowers.

This sand drying method works especially well for delicate blossoms like iris, tulips, and hyacinths. The desiccant draws moisture gently from the petals at a faster pace than air drying.

Tips for Sand Drying

  • Stir desiccants daily to expose new drying surfaces.
  • Add fresh desiccant as needed if moisture is absorbed.
  • Dry at room temperature. Avoid excessive heat.
  • Store silica gel in sealed containers and reuse many times.
  • Label flowers buried in desiccants to remember what’s inside!

Drying with a Microwave

The microwave can be used to rapidly dry flowers when time is very limited. However, microwave drying often yields lower quality results than air or sand drying. Here is how to dry flowers in a microwave:

  1. Place flower between two paper towels.
  2. Microwave on half power in 30 second intervals, checking between sessions.
  3. Allow to cool completely between sessions to prevent scorching.
  4. Repeat until flowers are dried and brittle, usually 1-2 minutes total.
  5. Avoid over-drying as petals can become too crispy.

Microwaves dry from the inside out, so monitor flowers closely to prevent burning. Simple, single layer flowers like daisies or black-eyed Susans dry quickest. Microwaving is not recommended for delicate blossoms.

How to Dry Roses

Roses are a traditional flower to preserve for sentimental occasions. Here are some tips for beautifully dried roses:

  • Choose varieties known for strong fragrance like hybrid teas or florist roses.
  • Harvest roses just before fully open by cutting stem 6 inches below the head.
  • Remove thorns, leaves, and white stem base.
  • Dip the cut end of the stem in melted candle wax to seal in moisture.
  • Hang upside down or stand upright in a vase of sand.
  • Dry in a dark space for 1-3 weeks until crisp.
  • Spray with clear acrylic spray sealant for preserved color.

Dried roses make wonderful keepsakes from weddings and proms. Display in shadowboxes, vases, or use to create potpourri.

Storing Dried Flowers

Proper storage is key to enjoying dried flowers for many years. Keep dried flowers cool, dry, and away from direct light. Here are some storage tips:

  • Store in boxes, beneath glass domes, or in vases with desiccants.
  • Display out of direct sunlight, which causes fading.
  • Keep in a climate controlled room, away from excess moisture.
  • Seal containers tightly to keep out humidity and pests.
  • Add desiccants like silica packets to absorb any residual moisture.
  • Dust gently when needed using short bursts of compressed air.
  • Keep dried flowers away from heat registers, stoves, and fireplaces.

With proper storage conditions, dried flowers can last for many years, even decades. Periodically check for insect damage, moisture, or signs of deterioration.

Uses for Dried Flowers

Once you have beautifully dried flowers, there are endless creative uses for them. Here are some ways to use dried flowers around your home:

  • Fragrant potpourri inside bowls, candles, or sachets
  • Stunning wreaths, wall hangings, and arrangements
  • Whimsical pressed flower art
  • Craft projects like greeting cards, framed pictures, and invitations
  • Wedding bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and centerpieces
  • Home decor accents in vases, pots, and window boxes
  • Essential oil infusion from rose petals and lavender

Dried flowers can be used similarly to fresh flowers for almost any decorative project. Their preserved beauty will last for many years if cared for properly.

Common Problems When Drying Flowers

Even when carefully dried, flowers can sometimes develop problems. Here are some common drying issues and how to avoid them:

Problem Cause Solution
Wilting Insufficient drying time Increase drying time in a dry area
Shattering Too much heat or humidity Dry thoroughly using desiccants
Mold Excessive moisture and humidity Dry in a warm, dry space
Fading Direct sunlight Dry flowers in darkness
Brittleness Overdrying Remove from drying source sooner

Monitor the drying process closely and remove flowers as soon as they feel dry and stiff to prevent these issues. Avoid humidity and bright, direct light.


Drying fresh flowers allows you to enjoy their beauty indefinitely. With the proper drying technique, storage, and care, dried flowers can last for many years looking vibrant and healthy. Choose flowers suitable for drying and cut them at their peak of freshness. Air dry or desiccant dryflowers thoroughly before displaying in a cool, dark space for longevity. Dried flowers make sentimental keepsakes or elegant, everlasting decorations for any home.