Keep a vibrant bouquet of flowers permanently by drying and returning to the vase, or use for potpourri.
Air-Drying/Hanging- Separate flowers into bunches of 6-8 flowers with stems. Tie a string around the bunches to hold tightly together but not damage the stems. Use the string to hang the bunches, not touching each other, upside down from a warm, dry, and dark place. An unused closet with a clothes rod would work perfectly. Constant darkness will help to retain the colors. Leave undisturbed for four weeks.
Pro: Inexpensive method, which fills your closet with wonderful smells
Con: The flowers become very stiff when dried in this method and certain colors, such as pink, fade.
Silica Gel- Found in most craft store, this misnomer is actually a granular desiccant used for drying flowers. The flowers should be placed on one inch of silica in a sealable container, slowly and carefully covered with the granules and left for one week. Once removing, you can spray the flowers with surface sealer and let dry on wax paper to help preserve.
Pro: Changes color to indicate when the silica gel has absorbed all the water from the flowers (from blue to pink). The granules can be oven-dried and re-used.
Con: Expensive and coarser granules can puncture petals.
Homemade Drying (Borax method)- A popular home method for drying flowers is to use a mixture of 2 parts Borax detergent to 1 part white cornmeal. Plain sand can be used in place of cornmeal, but the larger granules can damage more delicate petals. Leave in a sealed container for two weeks.
Pro: Less expensive than silica and less stiff than hanging method
Con: If left too long, Borax can destroy the flowers.
Sand drying- Oolitic sand is the drying choice of connoisseurs as the granules are hollow, for absorbing water, high pH, for retaining color, and smooth, to prevent damage to the petals. Common sand can produce a similar effect when prepared properly. Play or builder’s sand must be washed. Place in a bucket with water and a small amount of liquid detergent. Stir and pour off the water. Repeat until the water runs clear. Dry the clean sand in theoven at 250 F. At this point, for an effect similar to oolitic sand, add three tablespoons of melted paraffin wax, 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda, and 1 tablespoon of silica gel to 15 pounds of sand.
Pro: Sand yields the best results for retained color and shape. The sand can also be reused like silica gel.
Con: Oolitic sand is hard to come by, while common sand requires more lengthy preparation.
Preserving Flowers: Pressing