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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.
Drying Gomphrena
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Utilizing Dried Flowers from your Garden

Just because the end of the gardening season is here, doesn't mean the time for enjoying your beautiful garden flowers is over. Why not bring those flowers indoors to enjoy?

Drying is an excellent way to preserve flowers for years of enjoyment. There are a couple of different methods and tips to consider though.

Harvesting: Flowers should be harvested at the right time for the best color and longevity. For most flowers, this will be just after opening and before setting pollen. Do not wait any later because the flower petals may fall off during the drying process. When harvesting grasses this is especially important. Be sure to harvest before the seed heads open or "fluff" out. I have heard horror stories of having to "vacuum the air" because grasses and cattails were harvested at too late of a stage and brought inside.

Choose flowers with bright colors of yellow, oranges, reds, and pinks that will maintain their color well. You should also avoid cutting flowers while they are wet, so avoid cutting early in the morning while the morning dew is still on the flowers. A dry, sunny day in the late morning is perfect.

Hang Drying: Once harvested, there are several methods available for drying. The easiest method is simply hang drying. This can be done by bunching the flowers into groups, wrapping the stems with a rubber band, and then hanging in a cool, dry place for 1 to 3 weeks. This method works for many garden flowers, grasses, and foliages.

Covering Method: For flowers with a higher water content, larger heads, or ones that the color tends to fade easily, using silica gel would be a better option. Silica gel can either be purchased at the craft store or white builders sand will do the same job. Simply spread 2 inches of the drying mixture over the bottom of a pan or container. Strip the foliage from flowers, and lay them face down or face up, depending on the flower shape. Gently work the mixture around, up and over the flowers, until they are lightly covered. Store in a cool, dry place for 1 to 3 weeks until dried. This works great for flowers like daffodils, daisies, carnations, dahlias, and others.

This process can be speeded up by microwaving the covered flowers in a microwave safe container for between 2 and 5 minutes depending on the flower. Be sure that all flowers are covered to avoid the unpleasant, burning smell created if flowers are left uncovered during microwaving.

Once dried, spraying with a clear shellac can help prevent them from shattering and help to preserve the color.

Glycerinizing: The glycerin method is often used when drying most types of greens and a few flower varieties. Mix 1 part glycerin and 2 parts hot water. Cut thinner stems at an angle and use a hammer to split the stalks of heavier stems. Place stems in an open container of the solution for about a week to 10 days. Painting the top parts of the foliage with the mixture may also speed up the uptake of the glycerin. Be sure to maintain the level of glycerin throughout the process. The plant material will turn a darker color and will be ready when pliable.

Interested in learning more? Check out our webpages and for information about an upcoming dried flowers program.

You may also post any gardening questions you may have on the University of Illinois Extension Horticulture- Northwest Illinois Facebook page at

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Receive a helpful idea on gardening. :) Thanks Jane gel nails
by Jane Sanders on Wednesday 4/17/2013