Many everlastings have papery blooms even when they're growing. These flowers readily air-dry hung from racks or rafters. Once you have the hang of it, branch out to other bloomers. With the desiccant silica gel, there's no reason to pass over any flower.
Whatever drying method you choose, pick blooms at their peak. Any basket, crock, or vase can be used for displaying driedflowers. For large bouquets, place florist's foam in the bottom of the container to hold stems in place. Insert dried foliage first. This filler material should be about 112 times the height of the container. Next, add tallerflowers, then medium and small blooms. To make a wreath, buy a wire form or fashion your own with grapevines. Wrap floral wire and tape around shortened stems to secure them to the wreath.
Prolong the beauty of dried flowers by displaying them in a dry room. Humid areas, such as bathrooms, promote mold. Preserve the blooms' rich hues by keeping arrangements away from direct sunlight, which bleaches the natural dyes of flowers.
Air-drying is the simplest way to preserve everlastings and other garden flowers, including statice, strawflower, gomphrena, amaranthus, celosia, salvia, helipterum, lavender, baby's-breath, bells-of-Ireland, coneflower,Russian sage, and safflower. This method also works well for many field flowers, such as goldenrod, yarrow, daisy fleabane, and Queen-Anne's-lace. Pick blooms when they're fully open at midday, after morning dew has dried.Strip the leaves and gather stems into bunches, securing them with elastic bands. Hang the bunches upside down in a dark, dry, ventilated area-such as an attic or shed-for two to three weeks.
Silica gel, a sand-like drying compound, is used for flowers that wither and lose color when air-dried, such as daisy, dahlia, delphinium, marigold, rose, peony, and zinnia. Insert the shortened stems into a 1-inch-deep layer of the granules in an airtight box. Avoid overlapping flowers. Sprinkle more silica gel on top until flowers are covered to a depth of 1 inch. Cover tightly and label with the date and flower name.Exact drying time depends on species and bloom size, but check flowers after three or four days. When petals feel papery, brush away the granules, removing blooms carefully. Store the reusable silica gel in a tightly sealed container.
Store small bunches of dried flowers in a tissue-linedcardboard box until you need them for arrangements. Place flower bunches in layers, separating layers with small pieces of tissue paper. Don't combine flowers preserved by different means in the same box. To prevent crushingthe fragile blooms, loosely overlay bunches so that individual blossoms do not touch each other. Some flowers, such as salvia, are hygroscopic, meaning they readily absorb moisture from the air. For this reason, it's important to keep boxes in a warm, dry area. Use a dehumidifier and a fanto thwart mold problems. Seal boxes with masking tape to keep pests out.