Drying Flowers for Decoration

Ilona Erwin

The art of drying flowers can yield indoor decoration throughout the colder parts of the year and inspire some unique and creative decorations for wall art, stationary, and other uses. Although not the fad it was some years ago, dried flower arrangements and other forms of preserving the beauty of flowers can be easy to learn, and fun.

You might even create something that could make a nice gift, or dress up a giftbox in a special way. There are talented people who sell their handmade stationary and pictures made of pressed flowers, and there is no reason you can’t make your own even if you don’t have plans to make a business of it.

Choosing the Right Flowers

Orange, pink, and blue flowers tend to retain their color best.

Make a wreath with your flowers

Make a wreath with your flowers

Strawflowers, pearl everlastings, and baby’s breath all have good whites, but white can turn brownish in many flowers. Strawflowers and Achillea filipendula ‘Coronation Gold’ have good clear yellows. Statice has many colors, all of them keep their beautiful colors well.

Many plants and flowers may be dried, but start with these lists of flowers that successfully dry well.

Plants For Good Results

  • Acroclinium
  • Baby’s breath
  • Bachelor’s button
  • Bells of Ireland
  • Cockscomb
  • Globe amaranth
  • Larkspur
  • Nigella
  • Pussy Willow
  • Stachys lanata
  • Scarlet sage and blue sage
  • Chinese Lantern
  • Sea lavender
  • Statice
  • Strawflower
  • Tansy
  • Yarrow (yellow varieties best)
  • Eulalia grass
  • Fountain grass
  • Hare’s-tail grass
  • Northern sea oats
  • Quaking grass
  • Squirrel-tail grass

  • Alchemilla mollis
  • Anaphalis nubigena
  • Artemisias, esp. annua
  • Goldenrod
  • Joe Pye Weed
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Teasel
  • Astrantia
  • Globe Thistle
  • Gypsophilia
  • Hydrangea
  • Mullein
  • Poppy seed pods
  • Queen Ann’s Lace

Remember that moisture is your enemy and don’t choose plant material that is juicy or succulent.

The Gentle Art of Drying Flowers

Drying Methods

You may airdry flowers, press them, glycerinize them, and dry them with silica gel. I have done all but the glycerin, and I like both air drying and pressing the best. Just because I like things to be easy! Keep the plants drying in a place without sunlight, if possible. I’ve used big books for pressing, but if you are going to do a lot of it for pictures and home crafted cards, I think you should make or buy a flower press.

Glycerin is mainly recommended for foliage.

Air drying is simple. I always used rubber bands since the stems will shrink with drying and the bands hold them tightly. I hung them upside down from drying racks ( the old fashioned types for clothes) and even wire hangers. Just attach the bunches of drying flowers with clothespins, spacing enough for circulation.

Using Silica Gel
Purchase silica gel at a craft store. Pour it into an airtight container like a shallow cookie tin. Place flowers upside down in a layer of crystals, then sift the drying material into nooks and crannies and around the flower head to cover. Let dry for a given amount of time, usually by three days or so. You can also use your microwave with the silica gel, but I have not tried that. More about drying with silica gel, here. Hints and tips, including how to dry peonies! Remember to keep silica gel out of children’s reach; and once you have used Silica Gel in a container, wash it thoroughly if you intend using it for food again.

Fine sand can also be used to dry flowers in much the same way. Clean, sharp, shore sand is best, sand used by building contractors (builder’s sand) is good, too. Sand must be clean and dry, and you can use a heavy cardboard container.

Pressing Leaves and Flowers

If you use the old fashioned method of pressing flowers in a book, use waxed paper to protect your pages from brown spots.

Make your own flowerpress, or buy one,
Wooden Flower Press

Pressed flowers make lovely simple adornments to handmade cards, but you would be surprised at the sophisticated art possible when using pressed plant material to make collages. Some creative people have used their pressed flowers to decorate lampshades and decoupaged them onto furniture.



Making a Plant Press from Brian Birch on Vimeo.

Thanks to Missouri Extension for some of the information included here.

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Ilona Erwin, author

Meet the Author

Ilona Erwin

I started working on this website beginning in 1998, when it was part of Ilona's Reflecting Pool. Since then I've branched out into a number of online endeavors and work at writing lots of content for my sites. "Ilona's Garden" remains my primary site and is dedicated to home gardener's success.