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How to Dry Flowers and Lilies

water lily image by Earl Robbins from

Although nothing compares to the sight and smell of a vase filled with vibrantly colored fresh flowers, many people enjoy drying flowers to use for indoor decoration. Dry flower arrangements provide an inexpensive and low maintenance alternative to fresh flowers. They also last longer, thus decorating a spot for several months to years, depending on the method used. Drying flowers and lilies is a simple process that does not require particular skill or experience, and can be completed at home. For best results, make sure you collect flowers or foliage close to their prime.

Cut flowers and lilies any time between spring and fall, when they are actively growing. Include the stems when cutting.

Group stems together to form small bunches for air drying. Wind elastic band around the center of the stems to join bunches securely.

Wind a length of lightweight floral wire or ribbon over the elastic band and suspend the other end from the ceiling or wall of a dry, dark and warm area such as a furnace room, attic or closet. Make sure the room has good air circulation but does not receive direct sunlight. Flowers usually air dry in two to three weeks.

Press flowers between large, weighty books such as dictionaries, telephone directories or encyclopedias. Open the heavy book in the middle and spread a sheet of non-glossy paper on each side. Place the flowers on the paper, making sure they do not touch one another. Close the book and keep it in a warm, well-ventilated area for two to three weeks. Use additional weight if you want to speed up the drying process.

Use silica gel for an effective way to dry flowers. The University of Missouri Extension states that silica gel is the most satisfactory method for home-drying flowers. Pour an inch or two of silica gel into a container with a tight-fitting lid.

Lower the flower into the container and press the stem down into the silica gel. Add several flowers, but make sure they do not touch one another. Add silica gel to the container until the flowers are completely immersed. Use a toothpick to reposition any petal that bends due to the weight of the silica gel.

Replace the lid and place the container in a warm room. Flowers usually dry in three to eight days, depending on their thickness. Lilies dry in two to three days.


Many prefer using silica gel to dry flowers because they can shape the flowers as they wish, while pressed flowers are always flat. Silica gel preserves the shape and form of the flowers as if they were fresh. Use containers such as coffee cans, plastic containers or candy tins when drying flowers with silica gel.

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