How to air-dry flowers
Air-drying flowers is a simple, fun hobby that can save you money by providing free material to make dried flower decorations for your home or to give as gifts. Here's how!
Finding the space, the flowers
It's very simple to air-dry flowers. All you need is a place to hang them out of direct light, rubber bands and either paperclips or florist wire. (Get complete directions below.) I have used wooden pegged coffee cup hangers and pieces of lattice attached to the kitchen wall as places to air-dry flowers. You can also insert cup hooks into a wall and use those.
Once you have prepared somewhere to hang them, you can begin to find flowers to dry. Hopefully you have a variety of flowers growing in your yard to experiment with. If not, you can find wildflowers growing alongside roads or in forests. If you are using these flowers, be sure to be careful of the plants from which you take the flowers, in order to ensure that there are still plenty of plants for insects, birds and other wildlife to use.
Some flowers that have air-dried well for me are: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), pompon Dahlias (Dahlia hortensis), Poppy seed heads (Papaver somniferum), Roses (Rosa), Marjoram (Origanum vulgare), Delphinium, Larkspur (Consolida ambigua), Lavender (Lavandula Augustifolia), African Marigold (Tagetes erecta), Strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro), Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), Statice (Limonium sinuatum), Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), and Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) seed heads.
To find flowers that air-dry well, it's good practice to experiment. If it doesn't dry well, you gain the knowledge not to use that same method again -- or try it with a different type of flower. (Also remember that sometimes, an air-dried flower that doesn't look particularly pretty to one person may be pleasing to another.)
With most flowers, the best stage to dry them is when they are just beginning to open. Depending on the type of flower, if you hang it too late, the petals will fall off. That is just one of the things you will learn as you experiment. With other types of flower, you will want to wait until the seed head has developed, because this is the decorative part.
The best time to cut flowers for drying is late morning after the dew has dried and on a dry day. I like to take a wicker basket with a handle and my scissors with me and take a walk around the yard snipping what looks appealing.
Once you have your flowers picked, you can prepare them for air-drying.
- Bundle eight to ten stems with a rubber band at the cut end of the flowers. (The rubber band works especially well because as the flowers dry, the stems will get smaller, and the rubber band will shrink to the appropriate size for the bunch.)
- Next, insert an unbent paper clip or some florist wire inside the rubber band, and bend it to form a hook so the bundle can hang over a peg, piece of lattice or hook.
- Hang the bunch of flowers upside down. Depending on the weather, they will probably take anywhere from one to three weeks to dry completely. You can tell they are totally dry when they feel crisp to the touch.
Air-dried flowers make a fabulous decoration by themselves, but you can also use them to make dried flower arrangements, holiday ornaments, potpourri, dried flower wreaths and other beautiful crafts.