Carnations are often present in special-occasion floral arrangements, such as wedding bouquets and table centerpieces. There are two main ways to preserve carnations, and the method you choose depends on the result you wish to achieve. The air-drying method can be used to dry several flowers at once, but the blooms will be discolored. Drying carnations in the microwave generally preserves their color and shape, but the flowers must be dried one at a time.
Remove the carnations from their vase and wipe them dry if they are damp. Strip the leaves from the stems with a sharp pair of scissors.
Line up the bottoms of the carnations' stems and rubber band them together about an inch from the tip. Tie a foot-long length of dental floss to the rubber band.
Tie the end of the dental floss to the center bar of a clothes hanger, so that the bouquet of carnations is dangling upside-down from the hanger. Hang the flowers in a dark, well-ventilated space for 2-3 weeks.
Detach the flowers from the hanger and spritz the petals with hairspray to help preserve them. Display the dried carnations in a vase in a cool, dry area, or use the petals in potpourri.
Procure a microwave-safe container that is tall enough to accommodate the carnation when it is standing up. The dish should be slightly taller than the flower and wide enough to hold the carnation without squishing the blossom. Trim the flower's stem to fit the container, if necessary.
Fill the empty container about halfway with silica gel crystals. Slide the carnation, stem-first, into the container. Gently pour silica gel over the flower until it is completely covered. The gel will support the carnation while it is drying, allowing it to retain its original shape.
Microwave the uncovered container on 50 to 60 percent power in 30-second increments until the flower's petals are dry. Carnations should take between 2-5 minutes to dry completely in the microwave. If the flower doesn't appear to be drying, slightly increase the heat level.
Cover the container with its lid and remove it from the microwave. Open the lid about a quarter of a centimeter and place the container on a counter or table. Allow the gel to cool for about 24 hours.
Remove the flower from the container and clean any debris from the petals with a fine-bristled brush. Mist the flower with an acrylic spray to preserve its shape and color.
Display the dried flower in a clear floral display case. Because flowers dried in silica gel can reabsorb moisture from the air, it's important that they remain in an airtight container.