Flowers suitable for drying

Close up on orange strawflowers growing outdoors.

Drying flowers is a wonderful way to preserve their beauty and enjoy them for an extended period. If you’re running your cutting patch as a business, it’s also the perfect way to extend availability of blooms and open up opportunities for selling dried flower arrangements and running workshops on how to do this.

Not all flowers that you grow for cutting will be suitable for drying.  When choosing flowers for drying, it’s important to select varieties that hold their shape and colour well during the drying process. Harvest your blooms on a dry, sunny day, ideally in the late morning after the dew has evaporated. Look for flowers that are just before their full bloom stage as many will continue to open as they dry.

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Here are some of my favourite flowers for drying from those we grow here at the farm:

Achillea – There are hundreds of varieties of Achillea (Yarrow), but ‘Parker‘ is best as it retains its yellow colour.

Amaranthus – Cut these at the base of the stem when flowers are just out and before going to seed. Amaranthus caudatus (love lies bleeding) is particularly striking, both fresh and dried.

Ammi – These turn to a delicate ivory colour when dried. Not easily available so great to do.

Common Teasel – Gather these at the end of the Summer. They have beautiful rich honey tones and are the easiest to dry.

Dahlias – The pom-pom varieties work best for drying. You’ll need to tie them individually to dry upside down, handing from a frame.

Echinops – Cut when the flowers first appear. Leaving too late and the plant will go to seed.

Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus stems are worth preserving for their lovely scent and attractive grey-blue colour.

Gypsophila – A beautifully delicate dried flower. Cut from the base of the stem when most of the flowers are out and hand upside down to dry.

Above: Amaranthus, Lavender, Helichrysum

Helichrysum – Also known as strawflower or everlasting flowers, they maintain their vibrant colours and shape when dried. Cut before the blooms open up to reveal their yellow centre (although pollinators love them like that, so leave on the stem for the bees and butterflies if you’re too late for dried flower cutting).  Cut throughout the summer and you’ll be rewarded with more.

Honesty (Lunaria annua) – I love the botanical name for this as it reminds me of the moon-like seed pod heads.  Pick when the stem is dry and seed heads start to turn lightly brown.

Hydrangea – Cut the heads at the base of the stem when flowers are just about to turn (they should begin to feel papery) and dry in a vase or hanging upside down.

Lavender – Of course, a list of dried flowers wouldn’t be complete without Lavender. Pick when in full colour and it will dry beautifully and retain its scent.

Limonium (statice) – Cut when fully in flower, leaving stem wings intact.  Limonium comes in various colours and has a papery texture that holds up well when dried.  A ‘must’ as so easy to dry.

Rosemary – Rosemary sprigs not only add fragrance to dried arrangements but also hold their shape and colour when dried.

Roses – Roses can be air-dried or dried using desiccants like silica gel. Whether picked as a bud or slightly open, they maintain their shape and colour, making them ideal for various decorative purposes.

Sunflowers – Sunflower heads can be dried and used for decorative purposes. Hang them upside down to dry and they’ll retain their cheerful appearance.

Zinna – These are ‘Cut and come again’ flowers so don’t worry about cutting them at the height of their display as you’ll be rewarded with yet more! Cut when in bloom or just coming into bloom, ideally early morning. Zinnias will reduce in size by 1/3 to ½ when dried and their colour will usually darken. You can dry them by hanging or in a vase or removed the whole stem and dry in a tray of silica gel, sand or other moisture-absorbing material. Keep them in a cool darkish place and they may take up to 3 weeks to fully dry.

General notes on drying

When drying flowers, patience is key! Drying can take 1-3 weeks depending on the bloom and the conditions. You’ll know they’re ready when stems snap cleanly.  Once fully dried, they can be displayed as is, or used in wreaths, arrangements, or even as a natural potpourri.

Do share your favourites in the comments below once you’ve given drying flowers a go!

Roz

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