As evidenced by the discovery of preserved flowers in ancient
Egyptian tombs, people have for centuries engaged in the art of preserving
flowers. Today, a large variety of annuals, biennials and perennials are
successfully preserved. Because properly dried flowers can persist for
years after harvesting, they are often referred to as everlastings or
To ascertain the optimum growing conditions and harvesting time for
a particular species, one should not rely solely on books or articles.
Experienced growers will frequently be the best sources of information. In
general, flowering plants require ample sunlight, good drainage and a
growing season with a minimum of 80 days. Harvesting flowers at the
appropriate time is critical. Flowers which are without blemishes, insects
or diseases should be picked on mornings of low humidity after the dew has
evaporated from the petals.
Several techniques can be utilized to remove moisture from the
collected flowers. The simplest method is to tie a rubber band around a
bunch of flowers after their leaves have been removed, and to hang them
upside down out of direct sunlight in a dry, well-ventilated attic, closet
or garage. Ideally, the drying area should have a temperature between
60 and 80 F and a humidity rate less than 60%. Another method is
to place the flowers in a container and to cover them with clean, fine
sand, or a mixture of borax and cornmeal, or a nonchlorophyll kitty litter.
These inexpensive substances provide the flowers with support, enabling
them to maintain their shape while they dry naturally.
A more costly method is to use an airtight container and to cover
the flowers with silica gel, a desiccant, which not only provides support
to the flowers but also removes moisture from them. Overall, the more
rapidly flowers dry, the less likely they are to become moldy and the more
vivid their colors remain. The drying process can be further accelerated by
placing the container in a microwave oven or by applying heat. Depending on
the method chosen and the particular plant material being preserved, drying
time may take between one and four weeks.
The uses of preserved flowers are limited only by one’s
imagination. They are popular in floral arrangements, wreaths, bouquets,
potpourri and corsages.
(NOTE: Call numbers are given for items owned by NAL.)
BASIC FLOWER DRYING
Alden, Janice. 1979. “They are beautiful dried, too.” AFRICAN
VIOLET MAGAZINE. 32(4, pt. 1): 16-17. NAL Call No.: 80.AF8
Bennett, Jennifer. 1985. “The dried flowers of Hedgehog Hill.”
HORTICULTURE. 63(8): 44-47, 49-51. NAL Call No.: 80.H787
Emerson, William J. 1979. “Drying flowers in a microware
oven.” THE PRAIRIE GARDEN. 36: 96-97. NAL Call No.: 80.W73
Loebel, JoAnn Schowalter. 1987. “Flowers for drying:
everlasting perennials.” AMERICAN HORTICULTURIST. 66(10):
10-13. NAL Call No.: 80.N216
Nau, Jim. 1989. “A flower grower’s bibliography: basic
references.” GATHERINGS: THE CUT FLOWER QUARTERLY. 1(1):2-3.
O’Neil, Sunny. 1988. “An exciting new way to dry flowers.”
FLOWERLETTER. 5(3): 1-2.
“Onions that produce flowers, beautiful to bizarre, fresh or
dried.” 1987. SUNSET (CENTRAL WEST EDITION). 179(5): 233.
NAL Call No.: 110.SU7
Petersons, Hedviga V. 1981. “Drying and preserving flowers.”
FACTSHEET. ONTARIO MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD. No.
81-016. NAL Call No.: S155.A105
Proulx, E. A. 1984. “Dried and true.” HORTICULTURE. 62(8):
24-28, 30. NAL Call No.: 80.H787
Reilly, Ann. 1984. “Plan/plant now for your dried flowers.”
FLOWER AND GARDEN. 28(2): 26-28. NAL Call No.: SB403.F5
Russell, A. Brooke. 1987. “How-to hints for July gardeners:
dried florals capture summer’s glory.” AMERICAN HORTICULTURIST.
66(7): 8, 10-11. NAL Call No.: 80.N216
Sheffield, Richard R. 1980. “Plant everlastings for year-round
enjoyment.” ORGANIC GARDENING. 27(1): 186-188. NAL Call No.:
Swan, Joyce. 1988. “Everlastings: flowers that keep on
giving.” FLOWER AND GARDEN. 32(3): 38-39. NAL Call No.:
COMMERCIAL FIELD PRODUCTION OF CUT AND DRIED FLOWERS: A
NATIONAL SYMPOSIUM. Sponsored by The Center for Alternative
Crops and Products, University of Minnesota and The American
Society of Horticultural Science, December 6-8, 1988.
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota?, 1988?. NAL Call
Conder, Susan. DRIED FLOWERS: DRYING AND ARRANGING. Boston:
David R. Godine, 1988. (ISBN 0-87923-719-8).
Condon, Geneal. THE COMPLETE BOOK OF FLOWER PRESERVATION.
Boulder, CO: Pruett, 1982. (ISBN 0-87108-618-2). Out of
Embertson, Jane. PODS: WILDFLOWERS AND WEEDS IN THEIR FINAL
BEAUTY; GREAT LAKES REGION, NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES AND
ADJACENT CANADA AND AREAS WHERE FROST AND FREEZE ARE COMMON.
New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons,