In summer, our flower gardens provide lovely, fresh arrangements we can keep refreshing throughout the season. When cold weather sets in, your choices become more limited. Next time you go out and cut a bunch of daisies, pick an extra bunch. You can use one for a fresh bouquet and preserve the second, to enjoy later in the year when the blooms are long gone from the garden. Preserving fresh flowers is easy. All it takes is a little time and a few simple techniques.
When you pick your flowers is most important to obtaining the best results. Just as soon as the morning dew has dried from the petals is the best time of day. Aim to pick flowers at the height of that flower's season, when blooms are most abundant.
There are three basic methods of preserving fresh flowers. You can air dry or microwave the flowers, or you can preserve your flowers with silica gel. Here's how to preserve fresh flowers with each method.
Preserving fresh flowers by the air dry method is easiest. Use string, garden tape or rubber bands to bind each bunch. Hang upside down in a dry, warm location away from light. Depending on the thickness of the petals and air temperature, your flowers will dry in anywhere from two to four weeks. Apply a coat of matte spray fixative and you're done.
The second method of preserving fresh flowers in the microwave takes just minutes. Experiment with your timing, in increments of 15-30 seconds, until you find the optimum time period for the flower you're drying.
Dry just 2-3 medium blooms at a time. Small, flat petals, like marguerites or violas, do well with a stiff, microwaveable paper plate set on top. This helps the flower petals stay flat and not curl. When the flowers are dry, set them aside for at least half an hour, to rest.
Preserving fresh flowers with silica gel requires a careful hand, but often produces the most professional result. All you need is a can of silica gel, green wire stems, available at most craft stores and some florist's and a container. A plastic box with a tightly fitting lid works best. Trim the stems to an inch or so.
Pour a few inches of silica gel into your container. Carefully lay each flower on this bed. Flowers like roses and tulips go face up. Fill in with the silica around each flower, sprinkling in just a little at a time, so that the petals aren't crushed. Continue until the flowers are covered. It takes from 2-6 days to complete the drying. Check every day. When they're dry, carefully remove from the container. Use a soft brush to dislodge any silica clinging to the petals. Attach wired stems.
Preserving fresh flowers in season is easy and gives you flower arrangements all year.