How to Dry Gerbera Daisies in a Flower Press
Available in colors ranging from bright pinks to subdued pastels, Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) add attractive spots of color to your garden beds. The plants start to bloom anytime the weather warms, and they continue to provide flowers throughout the summer. Unfortunately, Gerbera daisies stop blooming once the weather cools. To save your Gerbera blooms, make a project out of drying them. Using a flower press is one method to preserve your summer flowers.
Choose blooms from your Gerbera daisy that have opened fully but haven't begun to wither. Collect the flowers you plan to press before you water for the day and when all dew has dried from the plant.
Cut the stalk of your Gerbera flower using your garden clippers or scissors. If you only want to save the flower, cut the stem at the base of the flower head. If you would like to include the stem in your pressed flower arrangement, cut the stem anywhere along its length. For the daisy to fit, the stem should not be longer than the length of your flower press.
Build the lower layer of your flower press. Place one piece of plywood on a table. Place a double layer of cardboard on the wood, and then place a 1/2-inch thick layer of newspaper on the cardboard. Lay one sheet of white paper on the newspaper.
Arrange the Gerbera daisy flower on the sheet of paper. Press it gently with your palm to make it lay flat. Build the top layers of your flower press with a second sheet of white paper, a 1/2-inch thick layer of newspaper and two layers of cardboard. Place the second piece of plywood on the stack. Secure the flower press with adjustable straps or by tying it together with twine.
Keep your press in a well-ventilated area. Open the press every two days, and replace the newspaper layers with fresh newspaper. This will decrease your drying time and help prevent your flower from turning brown or getting moldy.
Check your daisy after two weeks. Do not remove the white paper until the paper feels dry to the touch. If the paper still feels moist, continue pressing for another week or until the paper is dry. The large bloom of a Gerbera requires two to four weeks to dry thoroughly.
Your flower press can be any size you like, but to make it more manageable, limit the size to 12 to 16 inches square. Your pieces of plywood and cardboard should all be roughly the same size. Use enough white paper to thoroughly cover the Gerbera daisy flower.
Based in Portland, Ore., Tammie Painter has been writing garden, fitness, science and travel articles since 2008. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as "Herb Companion" and "Northwest Travel" and she is the author of six books. Painter earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Portland State University.