Drying and pressing flowers was popular during the Victorian age and is a simple way to preserve flowers for floral decorations and crafts. Dried flowers are used in floral arrangements, wreaths and seasonal decorations. Pressed flowers are framed or used to decorate stationery, gift cards and other crafts. A bouquet can be dried and displayed in a vase or under a glass cloche, or pressed and framed as a memento of a wedding, holiday or other special event.
You can use flowers in any stage of bloom, from a bud to a full-blown flower, for drying or pressing. The flowers should be dry when you cut them, with no signs of damage by pests or diseases. Keep the flower stems in water until you are ready to begin the drying or pressing process.
Simple flowers and foliage, such as pansies and ferns, are best for pressing. You should allow the flowers to wilt slightly before arranging them on a layer of absorbent paper, such as newspaper, blotter paper, tissue paper or pages from a telephone book. Then cover the flowers with more paper and a piece of stiff cardboard. You can make one or more layers of flowers, depending on how many flowers you have.
Stack several books or bricks on the top layer so that the layers are firmly pressed together and leave in a warm, dry room for five to 14 days. Every 3 to 5 days, you should check the paper and change it if it is damp. Flowers with thick petals will take longer to dry than flowers with thin petals.
Air-drying is the simplest way to dry flowers. Gather the flowers into small bundles and loosely tie the stems together with string or pipe cleaners. Hang the bundles upside down where they do not touch each other. The room should be dry and warm and have good circulation for best results. Air-drying takes one to three weeks, depending on the types of flowers used.
Flowers can be completely covered with a drying mixture, such as silica gel or borax and sand. Silica gel is sold in craft and hobby stores and changes colors as it absorbs moisture. The ratio of borax to sand used depends on the personal preference of the person using the drying mixture. Flowers take two to seven days to dry in silica gel, and five to 21 days to dry in borax and sand. Flowers that are left in either mixture for too long can fade and become brittle. Both types of drying mixtures can be reused after being heated for an hour at 200 degrees.
Pressed flowers can be used to decorate stationery, cards, gift labels, recipe cards and other paper crafts. They can be added to garden crafts, such as birdhouse, bird feeders, flower pots, plant labels and gardening signs. Pressed flowers can also be used on vases, canisters, storage boxes and other decorative items.
Dried flowers are used in vases, swags, garlands and other floral displays. They can be used to decorate baskets, boxes, mirrors and windows, as well as craft items.