Drying flowers is a great way to capture the romance and memory of an occasion and preserve it forever. Dried flowers can be used in arrangements, wreaths, shadow boxes and in many other ways around the home. There are many ways to dry flowers, but drying with silica gel or a similar drying agent is one of the most reliable and works for almost any type of flower. Drying agents also preserve the shape of the flower. Microwaving the flowers in the drying agent speeds up the process considerably.
Choose your drying agent. The best drying agent is silica gel, easily found at craft and hobby stores. Silica gel is more expensive, but is reusable. Some other drying agents are sand, kitty litter, or a mixture of equal parts borax and cornmeal. See Resources for a chart of flowers with recommended drying agents and times.
Remove all moisture from the drying agent before use. Dry it in the oven, spread out on a cookie sheet, on the lowest setting for an hour. Allow it to cool completely before use. Recycle used drying agent in this way after every use.
Pick fresh flowers in the middle of the day when there is no dew left on the plant. Leave about 1 inch of stem on the flower.
Wire flowers before drying if you are not planning to microwave them.
Put about 1 inch of the drying agent into an airtight container. Use a microwaveable container if you plan to microwave the flowers to speed up the process.
Place single flowers stem down into the drying agent. Carefully cover the flower with more drying agent, sifting the agent down between and around petals. Flowers with multiple flowers on the stem dry horizontally in the drying agent.
Place an airtight cover on the container and leave the flowers in the drying agent for several days until the flowers are completely dry. Dry flowers will have a paper like texture. The time required is different for each flower.
Speed up the process by microwaving the flowers in the drying agent. Place the flowers and drying agent into the microwave along with a cup of water. Microwave on medium power for the recommended time. It takes up to 3 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the flower and the drying agent. A rose needs about 90 seconds while a carnation will need up to 3 minutes. Experiment on times for your flowers.
Remove from the microwave and allow the flowers to cool undisturbed in the drying for 6 hours or more. They will continue to dry during this time. Check for a dry paper-like texture, if they are not dry, leave them in the drying agent until dry.
Remove the flowers from the drying agent when completely dry. Gently remove the drying agent away from the flower by brushing it off, layer by layer. Spray with a clear matte spray to seal them.
Wire flowers, if you have not already, with a piece of florist's wire. Insert the wire through the head of the flower and bend it around the flower. Wrap the wire with green floral tape and place the flower into your arrangement.