If you saw my last post, you know what I’m in the middle of packing and moving everything. I can’t find anything because most of it is already packed. A few days before I found out I was getting a new job and moving, I started doing trials on drying flowers. As a broke, DIY bride, I was hoping I could preserve my own wedding bouquet and use it as art in a shadow box after the wedding.
I scoured the Interwebs for tips and tricks and decided to do a dry run (pun intended) on some flowers I got for my birthday. In the chaos of moving, I didn’t take pictures of all of the steps, but some are self explanatory.
I started with about 8 roses, a gerber daisy, and some random greenery. My bouquet will be sunflowers, but since they aren’t in season, the daisy had to do. I wandered over to amazon and picked up some Activa Silica Gel for Flower Drying. It comes in 5 pound boxes. I quickly realized one wasn’t enough and ended up with three. Depending on the size of your bouquet and the bin you put them in, you might need two or three. At first I tried using a Gladware container but quickly realized they weren’t deep enough so I also bought an 18.5 cup Snapware Container and a 29 cup Snapware Container since it was in the recommended with purchase section on Amazon. I really like these containers, but if you have a similarly sized one laying around, it should be fine. It does need to be air tight and deep enough to allow an inch of gel on the top and bottom of your flower. Roses have fairly tall blooms.
Insert wire into stem and fold it over for later
For the rose and gerber daisy, I trimmed the stem off right at the base and shoved about 3 inches of greenery wire into the stem. This will allow me to anchor it to the shadow box or back into a stem later on. Fold the wire over a few times and bend it up so it is out of the way.
Fill around base of flower first to avoid petals spreading too far
I 300% recommend laying out a towel or plastic drop cloth over your work area before you open the gel. Newspaper does not cut it and the gel gets everywhere and WILL scratch your furniture. Though it’s called gel, it has the consistency of fine sand. Pour about an inch of gel into the bottom of your chosen container. For tall blooms like roses you will want to cushion the sides of the bloom before adding any gel into the inside. Do this by placing the bloom down and pouring gel around it, slowly creating a little mountain. Do not fill the inside of the bloom until the mountain of gel reaches the top of the blooms. The gel is heavy and will crush, bruise, or bend the petals if you aren’t careful.
“Bible paper fragile” dried rose
I broke the lone gerber daisy removing it from the gel, so I do not have pictures of it. For flat petaled flowers like daisies and sunflowers, lay the flower petals down near the top of the container, on top of buried sturdier flowers like roses. Since these petals are flat, they are more likely to bruise and should only be covered with enough gel to cover it, not a drop more. I made the mistake of burying them deep in the gel and the extra weight bruised the petals and made it look gross. It’s OK if the stem and wire stick out a tiny bit from the gel — once the container is sealed, the gel pulls the moisture out of the air and will dry the stem as well.
Rose petals can be dried in stacked layers
There are detailed drying time charts included with the silica gel for each flower. Roses are densely petaled flowers and take a very long time to dry out. The instructions suggested four days but up to seven. I uncovered one at the four-day mark to find the interior still moist. There’s no such thing as over drying them apparently since they’ve been hanging out in the powdery gel now for about a month and are totally fine, some of these pictures were taken today. They seemed safer still in the gel for the move.
The resulting dried flowers are SUPER CRAZY fragile. It feels a little like Bible paper, super thin and a little brittle. Whatever you decide to do with your dried flowers, make sure they are in a setting that will keep them from being bumped around.
Rose petals, surprisingly, hold up to tons of weight unlike the daisy petals. I filled the 18.5 cup container full of layers of petals with the vague idea of saving them for my flower girl to throw. My venue requires real flower petals if they are to be thrown outside. I managed to get about one and a half roses’ worth of petals into the 18.5 cup container. The amount of space that the flowers take up is a bit staggering. The must be fully covered to dry properly.
Dried rose petal
After the allotted time passes, lay out your drop cloth again and grab a spare container. Gently pour the gel off until a bloom is visible. Dust it off with your fingers and make sure it’s fully visible before pulling it up (especially if its delicate like a daisy, roses are sturdier). Store the used gel in an airtight container. The box includes instructions for baking it once it has lost the blue, so don’t lose (or accidentally pack) the instructions, you’ll need them again.
So a quick recap if you decide to dry your own flowers:
- Silica gel is a bit pricey, but can be used over and over again
- Sturdy flowers like roses can be buried deep, flat-petaled flowers like daisies should only get a light dusting of gel
- Shove some floral wire into the base so you can attach them afterwards
- They take up way more room than you think they will, plan accordingly
- Use plastic or fabric drop cloths, newspaper just makes a huge mess
- Make sure your container is actually airtight
- No peeking! Wait the number of days in the instructions and then add a few more just for good measure