Drying or pressing flowers is a great way to preserve flowers for use at a later date when perhaps the flowers are no longer in season. Some methods also preserve them in a way that ensures that they are flexible so that they can be used in projects, such as bending around jars if they are flat, and will not snap due to brittleness.
Over the last few weeks we have been testing different ways to dry flowers including different techniques for pressing them so here are our findings.
Drying whole flowers for use in floral displays or headdresses -
To dry flowers you need to cut the stem long enough for your project, e.g. if you are intending on having dried flower floral displays then the stem would need to be long enough to fit into a vase but if you are using them for a floral crown then they can be quite short (3 inches at least).
Choose flowers that are either individual such as lavenders with individual flowers, or if using something like a rose ensure that the petals are quite tight. Hydrangeas and delphiniums work well too.
Once cut tie the end of the stem, individually or in small (2-3) groups of flowers depending on size of flower, using string or something similar. Secure tightly and then hang up in a darkened room with good ventilation. I usually cut a long string and tie multiple flowers in regular intervals to the string and then hang the string up at both ends like bunting.
Leave for 2-3 weeks but check none have fallen down due to shrinkage, rehang them if so.
They will be very delicate when fully dried but make a beautiful floral display, we used some at our wedding!
Drying petals for use as confetti or art projects -
This one is the simplest of them all but probably results in a finished product with the least amount of uses as the petals simply shrink and become quite brittle and delicate, however, dried petals and flowers can be used for art projects, in magic potions and mud kitchens, in homemade play dough to add a bit of smell to the dough and in confetti.
Simply strip an opened flower of the petals and spread out onto a tray (be careful with metal trays the petals could stick). Ensure that they are not touching and store in a dark place with good ventilation. Check on them after a few days and turn them over. Depending on humidity, ventilation and temperature they could be fully dried in 1-3 weeks.
This photo shows both book pressed (bottom) verses iron pressed (top).
Pressing flowers using a flower press or book -
A flower press is 2 pieces of wood with screws at each corner that you layer cardboard in between the wood with the flowers in between the cardboard and screw the wood closed firmly. They are ideal for if you want to press on the go, out and about and can fit it into your bag, and they look pretty but if you are doing at home then a book works just as well!
For the book method we used baking paper folded in half with the flowers spread out in the middle so that they didn’t touch (leave extra room as they spread when pressed unlike dried petals that shrink). Then fold the other half of the baking paper over onto the flowers/petals or even leaves and carefully lay the sheet with flowers in between the pages of a big, heavy book. Close the book carefully and lay weights onto the book, we used another heavy book and lots of tins of food!
These can be stored anywhere inside and should dry after 2-3 weeks.
Pressing flowers using an iron -
Haven’t got 2-3 weeks? Need pressed flowers now! Arrrr. That is what we were like when we decided to make our pressed Flower Peace bunting for VE day! So we turned to the iron.
To press flowers using an iron you first need to lay them in between a piece of baking paper folded over/2 pieces of baking paper. Press down on them first before ironing using a heavy book. Then simply press the iron onto the baking paper with the flowers in. Don’t rub the iron around like you are ironing clothes and don’t use steam!
Hold for 15 seconds then move onto another section, once the first section is cool hold again for another 15 seconds. The flowers are now flat and semi dry and can be used as they are. I found that as time went by they dried out further but in this drying process they went wrinkly and a bit more brittle. Somewhere in between book pressed flowers and dried petals on a tray. It worked well and I would definitely do it again when I need pressed flowers instantly but it didn’t have the same delicate and smooth quality as the book pressed flowers. I reckon it can probably be used to speed up the book pressed process by ironing first then place in a book (once cool) and the flowers would be ready in 1-2 weeks.
Let us know which method of pressing/drying you use or if you try any other methods by tagging us on Instagram/Facebook: @NatureMakers