Flowers that feel dry and papery are very easy to preserve. The strawflower, for example, has petallike bracts that are firm and brittle. To dry, simply clip the bloom from the plant just beneath the head (the stem doesn't dry well). Select flowers that are just beginning to open. Right after picking, insert a 20-gauge wire through the stem end of the flower head; stick the other end of the wire into a foam board. Let dry for 3 weeks.
Another flower that's easy to air-dry is the globe amaranth. Cut the stems when the flowers are just starting to show color and hang them upside down in a dry area for about 3 weeks. Dry baby's breath, fernleaf yarrow, silver-leaved artemisia, liatris, ammobium, statice, celosia, 'Victoria Blue' salvia, hydrangea, and long-stemmed roses in a similar way. These flowers will dry best if you also follow these tips:
- Cut stems at bouquet length
- Cut flowers in mid-morning
- Pick flowers at their peak
- Put them in a vase of cool water if you can't hang them to dry right away
Some flowers, such as dahlias, zinnias, feverfew, delphiniums, snapdragons, and daisies, dry best in silica gel (found at craft and hobby stores). Place flower heads face up on a 1-inch bed of silica gel crystals in an airtight container. Also, gently shake crystals over flowers, covering completely. Seal container. Leave for two days to one week, checking often to avoid overdrying (flowers will become brittle).
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