3 Easy Ways to Dry Flowers for Everlasting Beauty

Create lasting bouquets and floral decorations by preserving summer blooms. Learn how to dry flowers in three different ways.

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How to Dry Flowers

how to dry flowersOk Sotnikova/Shutterstock
Dried hydrangea flowers

Learning how to dry flowers is easy—it’s remembering to actually cut them that is a challenge. Just before your favorite flowers reach their peak, think about how you might use a dried version of them, whether it’s for classic indoor wreaths and arrangements or a decoration on your favorite straw hat. Pick flowers for drying in the early afternoon on a sunny day, when their water content is lowest. Collect blossoms right at their peak—any older and the petals may drop as they dry—and play around with these simple drying methods.

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1. Stop Watering the Flowers

Decoration of dried flowersR.Tsubin/Getty Images
Dried bouquet of roses

If you’ve ever forgotten to add a little extra water to a vase, you may have already succeeded at the easiest method of drying flowers—simply deprive them of water. Now do it deliberately! Clip a small handful of stems, remove any leaves, and put them loosely in a vase without water. Even huge dinnerplate dahlias dry in about one week.

2. Hang Flowers to Dry Them

Dried flowers displayed in cafeYagi Studio/Getty Images
Dried flowers displayed as decor

The stems of some flowers may droop before drying if you leave them standing in a waterless vase. Keep blooms’ upright posture by hang-drying them. Tie several stems together with twine or a rubber band and hang the bunch upside down away from sunlight, which fades the blossoms. They will dry in a few weeks.

3. Speedy Method to Dry Flowers: Silica Gel

Moisture-absorbing silica gel requires a little more effort than other methods, but flowers dried this way look more like their fresh versions, with their natural shapes and colors preserved.

To get started, buy a tub of silica gel crystals at any craft store, and find a microwave-safe container with a lid.

Clip off all but an inch of the flower stems. Pour a 1-inch layer of the crystals into the container. Place the fresh flowers on top, right-side up, and add another inch-deep layer of crystals. Snap on a tight-fitting lid, wait two to five days, depending on the size and thickness of the flowers, then carefully uncover your buried treasure and shake off any loose crystals.

Speed up the process by microwaving the dish, uncovered, for a couple of minutes on medium power. The time varies, depending on flower size and the wattage of your microwave, so feel free to experiment with it. Once the blooms have reached the dryness you desire, remove the dish from your microwave (caution: hot!), snap on the lid, and let cool before opening it again.

Decorate With Dried Flowers

Hydrangea Wreath, how to dry flowersKenWiedemann/Getty Images
A wreath made from dried hydrangea flowers hangs on the door of a garden shed.

Attach a wire stem to the blooms or glue them into place on a wreath, in a shadowbox, or wherever you want to show off your preserved flowers. Whichever method you choose, now is the time to start making memories. The summer garden is brimming with beauties to experiment with!

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Best Flowers for Drying

Hanging lavenderchikaphotograph/Getty Images
Hang lavender flowers to dry them

Vase Dry

  • Baby’s breath
  • Dahlia, multi-petaled types
  • Geranium (Pelargonium)
  • Hydrangea
  • Pussywillow
  • Rose

Hang Dry

Silica Gel

Next, check out 5 simple ways to make DIY bouquets.

Sally Roth
Sally Roth is an award-winning author of more than 20 popular books about gardening, nature, and birds, including the best-selling "Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible" and "Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard." Sally is also a contributing writer and editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. She shares her love of nature with her husband, Matt Bartmann, who is also a naturalist as well as a photographer and writer.