Dry blooms for flower arrangements and other crafts using a desiccant, a substance that absorbs moisture. Silica gel, fine sand, borax powder and cornmeal are examples of desiccants used to draw moisture from plants. Silica gels have quick drying times (one week or less) and help retain flower color. Some silica gels change color as they absorb moisture, indicating when the flowers are dry. Regardless of which desiccant you choose, the method of drying is essentially the same.
Choose quality flowers, free from insect or other damage. Starting with nicely formed flowers will help ensure a good result. Place cut flower stems in water to keep the flowers hydrated to prevent wilting.
Remove the stems from the flowers, if desired, or use floral wire (20 to 24 gauge) to add support to the flower head. For flowers with soft centers, such as daisies, run the wire up through the stem and through the flower head, make a small hook and gently pull it down into the flower head to conceal it. Support harder based flowers, such as roses, by running wire through the base of the flower at right angles to the stem, bending the wire downward and twisting around the stem.
Fill a container with at least 1 inch of the desiccant of choice. Use an airtight, lidded container if using silica gel because this substance absorbs moisture from the air. University of Missouri Extension recommends shallow containers to make the best use of the drying material, which may be comparatively expensive, if using silica gel.
Place flowers onto the desiccant. Arrange blooms upright, downward or on their sides--whichever way keeps them supported without bending or flopping because that is how they will remain once dry. Preserve the same types of flowers together at once to even the drying times so one flower doesn't dry before another. Don't allow the flowers to overlap or touch.
Gently sprinkle the flowers in the drying container with desiccant until they are completely covered, then cover the container. Use toothpicks or another tool to gently reposition blooms, if necessary. Lightly tap the container to settle the desiccant and add more if any flower parts become visible. If you're drying with silica gel, close the lid on the drying container.
Gently tilt the container, revealing a flower, to determine if flowers have dried adequately; if the petals are still soft, they need more drying time; if they are papery or crisp, the flowers are dried. Drying time varies by type of desiccant used, flower type and moisture content.
Remove the dried flowers by slowly tilting the container until the desiccant falls away. Then, carefully remove the flowers.