How to Dry Flowers and Preserve Their Color

Dried flowers hanging upside down
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Flowers are a beautiful addition to any setting, but the colorful blooms tend to only last for a few days or a week. Drying flowers is a great way to preserve them for display in a vase or frame in your home.

Depending on the type of flower, there are several different techniques for drying flowers that can all be easily done at home with items you have on hand.

When's the best time to cut flowers for drying?

red rosebud

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To ensure the flowers retain the most color, cut them before they are fully open. The flowers should also dry in a dark, cool place so sunlight doesn't fade the colors.

If you're trying to dry a bouquet (like a wedding bouquet), it's best to dry it as soon as you're done using it since the flowers more than likely have been cut for at least a day. If you happen to receive cut flowers like roses, it may be tempting to leave the flowers in a vase until all the blooms fully open. However, if you really want to save the flowers for sentimental sake, you'll want to dry them before they're completely open.

What's the best method for drying flowers?


hanging dry red roses
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The most common (and pretty much foolproof) method is to gather the flowers in small bundles or individually and hang them upside-down. I always use a clothes hanger and rubber bands, and I tie flowers together at the stem and then line them up in a row and tie them to the hanger, which I hang inside a closet. If the stems are delicate, you can use dental floss to tie them. You can also hang the flowers from a wire or rod as long as the flowers are parallel to the floor.

This method will take a few weeks, and petals may fall off in the process. But it's also the best way to preserve the stems if you want to display the flowers in a vase.


Dry flowers in a notebook
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If you want to preserve just the flower, pressing is a great method that doesn't take up as much room as air drying.

Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) recommends that you cut flowers right before they hit their peak bloom in the morning after the dew has evaporated. Line the flowers on newspaper, plain, white paper, tissues or blotting paper (any paper that can absorb moisture) and place another sheet on top. Then, place the flowers in a book and close the book. You may want to stack books on top of the book that contains the flowers. This method also takes a few weeks.

Pressing is ideal for dried flowers that you want to place in a picture frame, between glass or in a piece of jewelry.


violets in a bowl

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If you don't want to wait weeks for your flowers to dry, this method is the way to go. Place flowers (without the stems) in a microwave-safe container. BHG suggests covering the flowers in a silica sand mixture or an equal mix of borax and cornmeal. Do not place a lid on the container and microwave it for one minute on high. If the flowers aren't dry, microwave another minute until they're dry. Finally, leave the flowers in the mixture for a day to ensure they are fully dry.

Where's the best place to display them?

If you want to keep your dried flowers for a long time, make sure you place them away from windows or any other source of direct sunlight. Also, keep them away from stoves, fireplaces, heaters or heat vents. Basically, the flowers need to be in a cool room so the colors don't fade.

Which flowers are best?

While roses may be the most popular (and sentimental) flower to save as a keepsake, these varieties (including some floral herbs) also fare well for drying.

  • Baby's breath
  • Carnation
  • Echinacea
  • Globe amaranth
  • Hydrangea
  • Larkspur
  • Lavender
  • Lily
  • Peony
  • Strawflower