Preserving Flowers

Essay by jamietham89 June 2004

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As evidenced by the discovery of preserved flowers in ancient

Egyptian tombs, people have for centuries engaged in the art of preserving

flowers. Today, a large variety of annuals, biennials and perennials are

successfully preserved. Because properly dried flowers can persist for

years after harvesting, they are often referred to as everlastings or


To ascertain the optimum growing conditions and harvesting time for

a particular species, one should not rely solely on books or articles.

Experienced growers will frequently be the best sources of information. In

general, flowering plants require ample sunlight, good drainage and a

growing season with a minimum of 80 days. Harvesting flowers at the

appropriate time is critical. Flowers which are without blemishes, insects

or diseases should be picked on mornings of low humidity after the dew has

evaporated from the petals.

Several techniques can be utilized to remove moisture from the

collected flowers. The simplest method is to tie a rubber band around a

bunch of flowers after their leaves have been removed, and to hang them

upside down out of direct sunlight in a dry, well-ventilated attic, closet

or garage.

Ideally, the drying area should have a temperature between

60 and 80 F and a humidity rate less than 60%. Another method is

to place the flowers in a container and to cover them with clean, fine

sand, or a mixture of borax and cornmeal, or a nonchlorophyll kitty litter.

These inexpensive substances provide the flowers with support, enabling

them to maintain their shape while they dry naturally.

A more costly method is to use an airtight container and to cover

the flowers with silica gel, a desiccant, which not only provides support

to the flowers but also removes moisture from them. Overall, the more

rapidly flowers dry, the less likely they...