Fragrant and beautiful, flowers are a welcome addition to any home. Unfortunately, flowers bloom seasonally, and the changes in weather take the best of the blossoms with them. Don't despair. You don't have to say goodbye to your favorite bouquet. You can preserve the petals to use in potpourri or for decoration around the home, allowing you to enjoy your most beloved blooms every day of the year.
Harvest the flowers of your choice. Petals with a high water content, like dahlias, do not dry as well as those with a low water content, like roses. Time the harvest so the flowers are being picked just before they hit their peak. Petals taken from blossoms that have passed their high point fade quickly and do not dry well.
Remove the petals gently and place them in a bowl. Many times you will find less material than you hoped for. Cut two to three times more than what you think you will need. Not only do the petals shrink somewhat during the drying process, they often take up very little space once they are no longer part of the whole flower.
Sprinkle a thick layer of silica gel in the bottom of a microwave-safe dish. Do not use a dish intended for cooking, as the transference of chemicals that occurs during the drying process can be potentially toxic. Place the dish in the microwave and cook on high for one to three minutes (depending on the strength of your microwave) to remove any excess moisture. Take the dish out of the microwave.
Arrange the petals in a single layer across the silica, making sure none of the plant material overlaps. Sprinkle more silica over top of the flower petals.
Place the dish in the microwave and cook on full power for one to three minutes. You will have to experiment a bit to determine the exact amount of drying time necessary for your particular oven model and petal type. Remove the dish from the oven and allow the contents to cool completely. Carefully spoon the silica out of the dish and remove the dried petals, brushing any excess silica away with a small paintbrush.
Use a conventional oven. If the microwave method seems too bothersome, simply spread the petals across the surface of an ungreased baking sheet and place in a conventional oven on low heat, at approximately 180 degrees F. Leave the oven door cracked open to prevent the accumulation of heat and moisture, and bake the petals for three to five hours. Allow dried petals to cool on the baking sheet for 24 hours. Then gently remove and use as you wish.