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The 30 Best Flowers for Drying and Preserving

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Which Flowers and Foliage are the Best for Drying?

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Which flowers and foliage are best for drying and preserving? From globe thistle to hydrangeas, here are 30 plants that dry well and hold their color so they look beautiful forever (not old and faded). Pick the right flowers for drying and follow our simple steps for stunning dried flower arrangements.

Which Flowers Are Best for Drying?

Look for flowers that have a small calyx and hold their petals tightly. (The calyx consists of the small green leaves—sepals—located at the base of the bud; they enclose and protect the unopened flower.)

Good Candidates for Drying Include:

  1. ageratum (floss flower)
  2. amaranth (globe)
  3. artemisia for its silvery foliage
  4. astilbe
  5. baby’s breath
  6. calendula
  7. celosia (cockscomb)
  8. coneflower
  9. cornflower (Bachelor’s Buttons)
  10. delphinium
  11. dill and herbs
  12. sea holly (eryngium)
  13. eucalyptus  
  14. ferns
  15. globe thistle
  16. gomphrena
  17. hydrangea
  18. larkspurs
  19. lavender
  20. lisianthus
  21. lunaria
  22. pansies
  23. Queen Anne’s Lace
  24. roses and rose buds
  25. salvia
  26. statice
  27. strawflower
  28. sunflower
  29. tansy
  30. yarrow

My absolute favorite flower to dry is ‘Limelight’ hydrangea, a lime green cone-shaped, mop-head type hydrangea. Leave to mature on the shrubs, then stand them upright in an empty vase to dry. 

 ‘Limelight’ hydrangea
 ‘Limelight’ hydrangea

Another favorite is ‘Big Blue’ sea holly, which glows as the Sun sets. Its electric blue stems and flowers are gorgeous dried. Cut the stems from your plants after the morning dew evaporates, just before the buds are completely open, or the flowers are fully mature. They’ll usually continue to open after cutting. Tie the stems together and air-dry them upside down in a dark, dry spot. The trick to retaining that color is to flash-dry them, too, in a hot car. Otherwise, the blue fades with time to almost gray. 

Big Blue’ sea holly

A classic dried flower is Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath,’ sometimes called plumed cockscomb. This dazzles with its feathery plumes and bright sunset-inspired colors, such as reds, oranges, and yellows, and sometimes violet, cream, and pink. Harvest the stems of celosia when the flowers are almost completely open. Hang upside down in a cool, dark location to dry for a month.

Celosia 'Dragon's Breath,'
Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’

Strawflowers are another easy dried flower to grow. Harvest them before the centers open so there’s enough moisture in the blooms to make them easy to handle. Cut the stems 12 to 15 inches long and remove the leaves. Hang them upside down in a dry, dark spot that gets good air circulation. They’ll be ready to use in 2 or 3 weeks.

Strawflowers
Strawflowers

Lavender has the most lovely scent and healing properties. You can start harvesting lavender in early spring because the more that you prune your lavender, the more flowers will grow! Harvesting lavender encourages a nice bushy plant. Pick younger buds and harvest them early in the morning after the morning dew has dried. Cut lavender just above a junction or side branch. Then, just hang wands in small bunches secured with twine upside down to dry in a dark, warm place with good air circulation. 

Lavender
Lavender

Roses are often a popular flower to dry, but this is because many romantics which to preserve their first bouquet of this flower which symbolizes love. The trick is to use roses that have just begun to open. Then hang them upside down to dry.

Roses 
Roses 

How to Dry Flowers Properly

Drying your favorite garden flowers isn’t difficult. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Pick flowers in the morning just before the blooms completely open. When you snip off the flowers from the plant, take 5 to 6 inches of stem, too.
  2. Strip off all foliage from stems.
  3. Secure a bundle of 8 to 10 stems with a rubber band or twist tie.
  4. Hang the bundle upside down from a hook or coat hanger in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area out of sunlight. Closets, attics, and well-ventilated garages are ideal spots.
  5. In 2 to 3 weeks (or even less if the weather is hot), flowers will be completely dry. Some colors may fade, but most flowers retain their original hues!

Flowers with thin stems, like strawflowers, will need wiring because their stems crumble when dried. Use florist wire or a 20-gauge wire and push it through the center of the calyx, pull it out the other side and then twist wire strands together forming a long stem. Hang flowers to dry in the manner described above.

If you want to try a faster drying method, consider flash-drying. The best way to flash-dry flowers is to pick them and then throw them in the trunk of your car. I’m not kidding! Jim Long, of Long Creek Herb Farm, tells readers of his blog and books that a car trunk is perfect for flash-drying bundles of hydrangea and other large flowers. He says to toss them in a car trunk, parked in the sun, for 24 hours to preserve color. They should dry to the “crinkling tissue paper” stage. That’s the sound their petals should make when you rub them.

See our Full Guide to Drying Flowers—with 4 different methods!

dried_flowers2-crop1.jpg

Pressing Flowers

Another fun way to preserve your flowers is to press them! Take a heavy book (such as an encyclopedia) on top. Open to the middle and line the facing pages with parchment paper or wax paper. Then, arrange the petals so they are facing down on the parchment paper and close the book. Leave for 7 to 10 days to dry. If you prefer to preserve your full bouquet instead, you will need to use silica gel, which you can find at craft stores. It’s a sandy-like substance. You can bury your flower bouquet in a box of silica gel for a week.
See our article on how to press flowers and leaves.

What are your favorite flowers to dry? How do you arrange dried flowers?

About The Author

Doreen G. Howard

Doreen Howard, an award-winning author, is the former garden editor at Woman’s Day. She has gardened in every climate zone from California to Texas to Oklahoma to the Midwest. She’s especially fond of unusual houseplants and heirloom edibles. Read More from Doreen G. Howard

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