After each growing season in my garden, I assess what I grew, making up a wish list of new things to grow for next year. Planning what new varieties to try is half the fun of gardening! But this time I am going back to growing some old varieties that have fallen out of fashion that I haven’t grown for years, and these include everlastings or dried flowers.
Air drying flowers or everlastings is simple and a great way to preserve your flower harvest for months to come. Knowing the correct varieties that dry well is key to successfully drying your blooms. I have dried flowers on and off for years; this was in vogue in the 70’s and 80’s and I have noticed a resurgence of interest, but people aren’t sure about which flowers are suitable.
After a recent visit to Priorwood Gardens in Scotland which is known for their dried flower culture and gardens, I was inspired to try this old craft again. Priorwood is a specialist center for the craft of dried flower arranging and has a dedicated drying room.
A delightful historic walled garden in the Scottish Borders in Melrose, Priorwood is a rustic walled garden where the plants grown are selected for their suitability for drying. Maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, Priorwood is a delight to visit to learn about drying varieties and methods.
Brimming with old-fashioned flowers such as Strawflowers, Teasels, Cardoon, Ammobium, Statice, Love in a Mist, Pearly Everlasting, and Yarrow, I walked the pathways identifying the ones that I recognized.
If you are an Outlander fan, I visited Claire’s herb garden in Culross, Scotland where many drieds and herbs are grown also. In the Outlander show Claire walks the pathways gathering medicinal herbs for preserving in her medical practice in 18th century Scotland. Most flowers are fleeting but preserving them by drying extends the beauty and usefulness of them.
Steps to Perfect Dried Flowers
- Choose flowers that are not completely open as they will continue to open through the drying process.
- Cut flowers in the morning, after the dew has dried using sharp sheers.
- Strip off all foliage.
- Group flowers into small bundles and gather together with rubber bands. This allows the rubber band to contract and not lose its grip as the stems shrink.
- Hang upside down in a cool, dark, dry, indoor spot where air can circulate.
- When flowers are done drying, they will feel dry and stiff to the touch. This may take several days or several weeks, depending on conditions and the type of flowers.
Everlastings to grow for drying
- Sea Holly(Eryngium ) – perennial
- Winged Everlasting (Ammobium alatum) – annual
- Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi) – perennial (seed pods)
- Artemesia – perennial
- Hydrangea- perennial
- Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila paniculata) – annual or perennial
- Sweet Annie (Artemesia annua) – perennial
- Cockscomb (Celosia cristata) – annual
- Bells-Of-Ireland (Moluccella laevis) – annual
- Love in a Mist (Nigella damascena) – annual (primarily the seed pods)
- Money Plant or Honesty (Lunaria annua) – biennial
- Yarrow(Achillea spp.) – perennial – perennial
- Strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum) – annual
- Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) – annual; go to Plant Geek Alert
- Statice(Limonium spp.) – perennial and annual
- Bachelor’s Buttons or Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) – annual
- Lavender (Lavandula spp.) – perennial
- Roses (Rosa spp.) – perennial/shrub, flowers and hips (fruit)
6 Replies to “Dried Flowers 101”
Claire– time is past for a lot of flowers but this is great to keep so we know what to plant, or buy at farmers’ markets. Is it possible to successfully dry flowers that are damp from rain? I’m thinking of hydrangeas, as the centers are so full. Is it a waste of time to try it if flowers are past their prime?
You have explained the ideal way, but how forgiving is using less ideal conditions? Thanks!
Julie, the flowers should be dry or they will get spots as they dry. And yes, don’t bother with flowers past their prime as they fall apart.Hydrangeas are a little tricky. Pick one and let it go for a few days. If it shrivels up, it is too soon. Wait until a test bloom dries successfully before you cut all your nice blooms off so you don’t lose any.
Claire, this is an interesting post, full of great information. Beautiful photos too. It’s fascinating to me how certain flowers in general fall in and out of favor among gardeners.
Thank you, Claire, for this wonderful information and listing the flowers that are good for drying. I have quite a few that you mentioned in my garden. I’ve been so focused on the enjoyment of growing them I never really thought of how they would look dried. What beautiful bouquets they would make and lovely gift!
These are beautiful! Thank you for sharing!