First, In order to assess if and how your flowers will dry well, consider the following:
- Air drying works best for bouquets and for robust flowers such as roses, or small, long-lasting varieties like lavender.
- Individual gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums, roses, and tulips are great candidates for the microwave flower drying technique, which will preserve their color and structure better than air drying does.
- For more delicate flowers like lilies, try another preservation technique, such as pressing.
- Fully mature blooms will likely lose their petals in the drying process, so don’t wait too long to begin drying your flowers.
How to Air Dry Flowers
1. Strip excess foliage from flowers and cut stems to desired length (no shorter than six inches). To help flowers retain their color during the drying process, make sure to remove them from sunlight as soon as they’re cut. Hang flowers individually or rubber-band stems together to hang a bouquet.
2. Find a dark, dry area with good circulation, such as an attic or unused closet. With unflavored dental floss, secure the bottom of the flowers’ stems to a hanger so that they hang upside down to dry. Leave flowers for two to three weeks until completely dry.
3. Remove flowers from hangers and spray with unscented hairspray for protection.
How to Dry Flowers with a Microwave
This method of flower-drying requires silica gel, which you can find in craft stores. The gel preserves the shape of the flowers, and can be used over and over again.
1. Find a microwave-safe container that will hold your flowers and fit into the microwave. (Do not use a dish you want to use for food again after this project.)
2. Cover the bottom of the container with an inch or two of silica gel, a bit more for larger blossoms. Place flowers blossom-up in the gel and then pour more gel over the petals. Pour gently so that petals don’t get flattened.
3. Place the uncovered container in the microwave. Microwave temperature and time will vary according to the type of flower, so this step requires a bit of trial and error. Start the microwave on one or two heat levels above defrost for 2-5 minutes. (Roses can withstand more heat, while daisies prefer lower temperatures.) Check your flower’s progress after a short time and then periodically. Increase heat and time as needed.
3. Once flowers are dry, open the microwave and immediately cover the container. Remove the covered container from the microwave, open the top a quarter of a centimeter, and let it sit for 24 hours.
4. Clean the gel from the petals with a fine brush and then mist with an acrylic spray (also available at craft stores).
Finally, display or use your dried flowers in craft projects as you like. Dried flowers fade quickly in sunlight or extreme heat, so be sure to keep them in cool areas away from windows.