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How to Preserve Cut Flowers

By Melody Lee ; Updated September 21, 2017
Preserved cut flowers can be used in floral arrangements.

It is easy to preserve cut flowers to use in floral arrangements, wreaths and decorative projects. The simplest way to preserve cut flowers is to cut and hang them to dry. Using a drying medium, such as a borax mix or silica gel, to preserve cut flowers is quicker than air-drying. Flowers can be collected during the bud or flowering stages to add variety to your arrangements. Store dried flowers in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.

Air-Drying

Choose healthy flowers with no signs of disease, pest damage, or fading. Collect the flowers after plants have dried from the dew, rain or irrigation. Use a sharp knife or hand pruners to cut the flowers and place the stems in water until you are ready to start the drying process.

Cut or pinch the leaves from the stems. Hold a bundle of flowers together and loosely tie with string or a pipe cleaner. Do not let the flower heads touch.

Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry, dark area with good air circulation until the flowers are dry. Hang large flowers individually. Flowers take one to three weeks to dry, depending on the thickness of the petals.

Drying Mixtures

You can use a borax mix or silicone gel as a drying mixture. Mix 1 part borax powder to 1 part cornmeal in an airtight container for storage, if you are using borax mix for the drying process. Place a half-inch to 1-inch layer of the borax mix in the bottom of a cardboard box lined with newspaper, or a layer of silica gel in the bottom of an airtight plastic box. The box should be deep enough to allow the drying medium to completely cover the flowers.

Collect the flowers as for air-drying. Cut or pinch the leaves from the stems.

Lay the flowers in a single layer, not touching, on the drying medium in the box. Flat-faced or daisy-type flowers should be laid face down, long spikes of flowers should be placed horizontally, and other types of flowers should be placed face up.

Sprinkle the drying medium on and around the petals of the flowers until they are entirely covered. Leave the cardboard box of borax mix and flowers uncovered for air circulation and faster drying. Tightly close the box of silica gel and flowers.

Allow two days for thin-textured flowers and five to seven days for thick-textured flowers to dry in the silica gel. Allow five to 21 days for flowers in the borax mix to dry, depending on how thick the petals are. Gently remove the flowers from the drying medium and shake the loose medium off. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove the remaining drying medium.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Knife or hand pruners
  • String or pipe cleaners
  • Borax and cornmeal or silica gel
  • Airtight container
  • Cardboard box and newspaper or plastic box
  • Soft-bristled brush

Tips

  • The borax mix can be prepared with up to 10 parts of cornmeal, based on personal preference.
  • Spread the borax mix or silica gel in a shallow baking dish and heat at 250 degrees for one hour or until the planting medium is dry. Store in an airtight container to use again later.

Warnings

  • Do not collect flowers from endangered plants or in a protected area.
  • Do not leave the flowers in the drying medium for too long, as it can cause the petals to become brittle or discolor.

About the Author

 

Melody Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 30 years of gardening experience. She currently works as a writer and copy editor. Her previous jobs include reporter, photographer and editor for a weekly newspaper.