One of the gardens I enjoy planting each year is designed with the holidays in mind. I enjoy drying flowers and using them as arrangements on my nature themed Christmas tree I usually put together yearly. This year I have some wonderful plans for my baby breath, Russian Static and the three different colors of statis I am growing. Yesterday was one of the biggest harvest I have had yet this year.
My 'DRYING FLOWERBED' is found out to the right of my sitting garden and in front of the veggie garden. I like having the dried flowers in front of the veggies because it will provide color in the late summer and fall to hide the retiring veggie patch. The photo above was taken on the hot summer day just before harvest.
In general flowers prefer growing in full sun and in well-drained, neutral pH soil. The photo above shows the area my dried arrangement cuttings is planted in. We are lucky to have a rich soil from the river that runs through our property.
It is best to cut your flowers in the morning hours after the dew has evaporated from the plants. Once cut, group stems into bunches using rubber bands (pure rubber rubber bands work best) and remove them from the sunlight as soon as possible.
There are definite developmental times which are best for cutting flowers for drying. This can be very specific for different plants or even different cultivators of the same plant. In general, it is best to pick immature flowers (ones that are not completely open) since flowers continue to open during the drying process. If you pick a flower at the time that it looks perfect, it will continue to open while drying, leaving you with a flower past that ‘perfect stage’. Most people pick flowers too late in development.
My flowers are air dried in our garage. The garage offer ideal conditions: 1) darkness; 2) very good airflow; 3) cool updrafts; 4) perfect (usually) humidity levels. Once you have cut your flowers, it is important to remove them from the sunlight as soon as possible. This, along with drying in the dark, is the most important factor in maintaining good color.
Hang your bunches in a well ventilated attic, large closet, or even a dark shed or garage. Hanging lines can be made out of rope or wire (we use 14-gauge fence wire). The reason we hang flowers upside down is simple to maintain straight stems. If you dried flowers right side up, they would bend over (like a wilting flower) and you would end up with dried flowers with distorted stems. With this in mind, there are a few flowers that have woody stems (e.g. hydrangea) or very light flowers (e.g. Baby's Breath) which do not require hanging.
Duration of drying time depends on many factors including humidity, airflow, and the type of flower you are drying. In certain conditions, some flowers can dry in 24 hours. A dried flower should feel stiff and ‘dry’, not limp or damp.
If you are cutting only flower heads, you can set them on newspaper or a sheet spread out on a counter or floor to dry (in a dark room). You can expedite the drying process by placing the flower heads on a screen.