Dried Flowers-Back From the Dead

A major interior design trend that has crept up on us during COVID, all over Instagram Feeds and weddings, in hotels and restaurants, is ….. drum roll please…… dried flowers. Especially in the fall with winter approaching, dried grasses and wildflowers are making a comeback. A recent trip to destination nursery extraordinaire Terrain drove home this point. Their dried flower display was over the top. When I visited a few weeks later, everything was gone!

Dried flower display at Terrain in Glen Mills, PA

Winterthur Dried Flower Tree

According to Etsy, there’s been a 93% increase in searches for dried flowers in just the last six months. Impressive.  Kind of like old fashioned knitting, growing and drying flowers has come back with a vengeance.

Drying roses with silica gel
I use these crystals, the kind that come in little packets with a lot of purchases, to dry large flowers like peonies and roses

Check out this video on the Winterthur Flower Tree. They start in the spring with the first spring blooms and dry flowers throughout the year to decorate the  magnificent Yuletide tree. And that isn’t all you can do with dried flowers. One of the most popular category that people can enter at the Philadelphia Flower Show is the pressed flower pictures. Check out this pressed flower entry at the Philadelphia Flower Show.

Philadelphia Flower Show pressed flower entry

Search on your Instagram feed, and you will see tons of dried, wispy pampas grasses, bunny tails, lavender, and cockscomb. Think about it…… They are low maintenance and eco-friendly and last longer than fresh cuts. Plus, they bring in a whole range of color options, like pastels and textures that we are craving in the winter season. Just check out Olga Prinku’s dried floral wreaths and also dried botanicals pressed between pieces of glass.

My version of pressed flowers displayed under glass

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.

Steely blue Sea Hollies come in all sizes; these seen in Oregon
Steely blue Sea Hollies come in all sizes; these seen in Oregon

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. 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.

Dried doesn’t have to mean dusty dull flowers! This is a great dried wreath with wonderful vibrant colors
A small colorful dried arrangement
A small colorful dried arrangement

After a recent visit to Priorwood Garden 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.

Priorwood Gardens in Scotland has dried flowers from their gardens for centuries
Priorwood Gardens in Scotland has had dried flowers from their gardens for centuries

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.

The shop at Priorwood Gardens is decorated with drieds
The shop at Priorwood Gardens is decorated with drieds
Priorwood Gardens entrance
Priorwood Gardens entrance

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 and noticing the ones that I needed to ask about .

A large swath of white Pearly Everlasting at Priorwood Gardens
A large swath of white Pearly Everlasting at Priorwood Gardens
Yarrow is an outstanding dried flower; the rose color will fade to a light pink
Yarrow is an outstanding dried flower; the rose color will fade to a light pink
Poppy seed heads dry nicely
Poppy seed heads dry perfectly
Dried flower arrangements last for months
Dried flower arrangements last for months

Steps to Perfect Dried Flowers

  1. Choose flowers that are not completely open as they will continue to open through the drying process.
  2. Cut flowers in the morning, after the dew has dried using sharp sheers.
  3. Strip off all foliage.
  4. 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.
  5. Hang upside down in a cool, dark, dry, indoor spot where air can circulate.
  6. 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.
Surprisingly, peonies air dry wonderfully!
My drying rack for air drying flowers
Don’t forget you can press your flowers. I press my flowers sandwiched between blotting paper. Pansies are the best!
  1. Strawflower
    Strawflower
    p1100173
    Strawflower

    Everlastings to grow for drying

    • Sea Holly(Eryngium ) – perennial
    • Winged Everlasting (Ammobium alatum) – annual
    • Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi) – perennial (seed pods)
    • Artemesia ( Sweet Annie and the grey leaved varieties)- annual & 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
    • Strawflowers (Helichrysum bracteatum) – annual
    • Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) – annual
    • 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)
    • Peony-perennial
    • Tansy-perennial
    • nigella
      Nigella or Love in the mist is grown for its seed pods

      Statice for sale at Farmers market in Germany
      Statice for sale at Farmers market in Germany
Ammobium is a wonderful dried, easy to grow, and dries exactly as it looks
Ammobium is a wonderful dried, easy to grow, and dries exactly as it looks
Tansy flowers are button like orbs that have brown edges as they age
Tansy flowers are button like orbs that have brown edges as they age
Sweet Annie, Artemisia annua, is a great foliage that dries
Wait until hydrangea blooms turn leathery to the touch and then put them into a vase of water and keep there until all the water is gone
Wait until hydrangea blooms turn leathery to the touch and then put them into a vase of water and keep there until all the water is gone
Bunch up your lavender bundles with rubber bands and hang to dry
Bunch up your lavender bundles with rubber bands and hang to dry

9 Replies to “Dried Flowers-Back From the Dead”

  1. A friend just sent me this blog. Absolutely inspiring! I am hooked! 🙂
    I did not know peonies can be air dried. That is something to happily anticipate doing next spring!

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