How to Dry Out Flowers & Preserve Them
When you think about drying flowers, you may immediately picture pressing a few blooms between the pages of a large book, but you can dry flower stems in other ways which help them keep their shape!
If you have a wedding bouquet or a special bloom that you want to hold onto as a keepsake, drying those flowers with one of these methods can keep them around for a long time. You can also use dried flowers to make floral arrangements that last for years and they look great in resin crafting. Of course, along with flowers, you can also dry herbs and preserve them for cooking or other projects.
When you dry flowers, there’s always a bit of browning that occurs and some types and colors brown more than others. That’s natural! Flowers that are denser or haven’t fully opened (such as roses) will preserve better, so keep that in mind as you choose your flowers and decide when to dry them.
This tutorial covers a few options for drying flowers using tools and supplies you probably already have on hand. But you can also try other methods that use special supplies and see what you like best!
What You’ll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Scissors and/or Pruners
- Cooling Rack
- Sheet Pan
- Air Fryer or Dehydrator
- Rubber Bands
- Baking Parchment or Paper Grocery Bag
- Hair Spray (optional)
- Prepare the Flower StemsJust as you do before placing a bouquet in a vase of fresh water, start by trimming the ends of the stems.If you are picking flowers from your garden, do this in the morning. When you trim them from the plants, be sure to keep the stems long enough to work with.
- Remove the LeavesRemove any leaves from the stems.
- Gather the StemsHanging flowers upside down is one of the most common methods and one you’ll see a lot. It will take some time for the blooms to fully dry, but it’s worth the wait.To start, gather a few stems together and fasten them with a rubber band. As the stems dry out, they shrink and the rubber band will keep them more secure than string.
- Hang the FlowersHang the rubber-banded flowers on a string or a coat hanger. You can clip them on with clothespins or tie them on with a short piece of string.It’s best to hang the flowers in a warm and dark location, if possible. To speed up the process, you can hang the flowers in the trunk of a car parked in the sun.
- Hanging HerbsThis process also works great for drying herbs. Whether you’re preserving your favorite flavors from the garden or planning on making some sweet-smelling sachets, this is the way to go.
- Air Drying on a Cooling RackWhile hanging the flowers upside down does technically air dry them, it’s not the only way to dry out blooms naturally.Lay flower stems out on a cooling rack so there’s plenty of air circulating around them. You can also trim the stems a little shorter and place them so the bloom is facing up. Either way, you can adjust the flower so it’s in the shape you want.
- Water DryingA similar “just let it dry out” method is sometimes called water drying. That sounds counterintuitive, but it just means that you place your cut flowers in a vase or jar with only a small amount of water and let the water evaporate. Over time, the flowers will dry just as they are. This technique is especially popular with hydrangeas.
- Prepare the FlowersHave you ever baked a pan of flowers? You can! This is a faster way to dry flowers because just like placing them in a car trunk, heat makes a difference.Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or paper from a grocery bag. Spread the flower stems out on the pan.
- Set Your OvenSet your oven to the lowest setting possible, usually 150 or 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the flowers until they are dry, rotating the pan every 15–20 minutes. This can take several hours.To let the moisture out of your oven, try leaving the oven door ajar. You can also rotate the flowers themselves so they dry evenly, but this can cause them to have flatter blooms.
Dehydrator or Air Fryer Drying
- Prepare the FlowersSince drying flowers is essentially removing the moisture from them, a dehydrator is a common tool for this. You can lay the flower heads flat in the trays to dry them out in several hours.If you have an air fryer, it combines what happens in a dehydrator with the oven. And it’s fast!Set your air fryer at its lowest temperature or use the dehydrate setting. Place the flowers in a single layer on crisping racks or in a basket. Because of the airflow in an air fryer, the flowers will dry in as little as 15 minutes.
- Monitor the FlowersCheck the flowers every 5 minutes to monitor their progress.
You can leave your dried flowers just as they are, or as an optional final step, spray them with a light coat of hairspray (or dried floral preservative) to preserve them further. This is especially good for making dried floral arrangements.
Use your dried blooms to make your own potpourri or display them as decor. To keep dried flowers clean, gently blow away dust with a hair dryer set to its lowest cool setting.