How to preserve roses and other flowers is an important question, because a flower isn’t always just a flower—it is often connected to memories you don’t want to forget. If you are not sure what to do with your Valentine’s Day flowers after the holiday or want to commemorate blooms gifted to you on a special date this post is for you. In this blog post, I’ll share my top 5 best ways to dry roses so they last forever.
Roses have been dried for as long as people were growing them. In Victorian times, most flower arrangments were made of dried flowers as houses were heated with open fires, which shortened flower life immensely. After more efficient heating systems were invented fresh flowers took the spotlight, but there are still many uses for the dried flowers around the house and so there is a guide on how to dry your roses and other flowers so they last forever.
Main drying methods
Flowers can be dried at home in three principal ways: in a microwave, using a desiccant or in the air. There is also a freeze-drying method, but this one can’t be performed at home as a normal freezer would not do. A freeze-drying method requires specialised freezers and takes a couple of weeks so if you are not planning to start a flower drying business it cost-inefficient.
How to prepare your flowers for drying
Dried flowers are fragile and fully open blooms may lose their petals once they’re dried. In order to get the best results, you need roses that still haven’t started to decay and whose leaves are not falling off.
To help roses keep their colour during the drying process, make sure not to expose them to sunlight.
If you are getting your roses from the garden rather than from a florist make sure to pick them in the morning when there is no moisture on the petals. Select only healthy roses as you don’t want any discolouration or rotting occurring during the drying process.
When preserving roses with the stems you need to remove all leaves as they don’t dry well. Then cut stems to the desired length but no shorter than six inches.
Air – drying is the most common method as it does not require anything except the flowers. It is probably the easiest as well.
So when should you be going with this method? The air-drying method is the best for just opened rosebuds that still have their shape. When air drying flowers should be hanged laundry style with blooms facing the ground as you don’t want gravity working against you. Before hanging flowers, make sure that no water is trapped between petals. For best results dry your flowers in a place that is warm, dark, dry, and has a good ventilation system. Leave them to hang for 2 -3 weeks.
Once the blooms dried remove them from the string and spray them with the colourless hairspray for protection.
My favourite method of drying roses – Air drying in a vase
If you are drying miniature roses or spray roses you can air dry them by leaving them in a vase. Just don’t forget to empty water from the vase as you don’t want your roses rotting. In hot climates, water will evaporate quickly, so it will not make a difference. I once left roses in a vase with water in mid-summer in Croatia and left the house for a few weeks. At the time outside temperature was around 30 degrees. To my surprise when I returned roses dried perfectly.
Tip: Spray the rose with hairspray. Using hairspray to keep the rose in mint condition is a less common method in preserving the flower. It works best when combined with the air-drying method. Using a can of ordinary hairspray, you simply work your way around the rose covering the petals, stem and leaves with the liquid. The hairspray holds the petals firm and prevents them from falling off while hung upside down.
Dry Roses with a Microwave
This method is quick but will only do for flower heads or blooms with a short stem as it has to fit on the turntable. Place your flowers on greaseproof paper and set the microwave to the lowest setting. You have to check on roses every 45 -60 seconds as you don’t want them to overcook.
Some people recommend using desiccant during microwave drying as it prevents petals from deformation.
Desiccant Drying – preserving roses with Silica gel
If you want your flowers to look natural, trying using silica gel. This substance can be found on Amazon or in craft stores and works best with sturdy flowers. Works the best for fully open roses.
Place your blooms in a large container, preferably airtight, and bury them in silica gel. When burying roses in the gel make sure that you cover them very gently until every part of the flower is concealed. Now seal the container tightly. In a few days to a week, gently uncover vibrant, preserved flowers.
If you don’t want to wait you can place your container with flowers in the microwave. Make sure that your container is suitable for microwaving.
You will need quite a lot of silica gel if you want to preserve a bouquet. A small bunch will require 2-3 kg.
If you want to use dried flowers for more than flower arranging, use the pressed method. Take a heavy book and line its pages with wax paper. Then arrange flowers face down so they don’t overlap on the pages with wax paper. Close the book and apply some pressure to it. Leave untouched for 10 days or even a month. Once no moisture is left and flowers have a papery texture, use your pressed flowers to make stationery, bookmarks, or fill a picture frame for pretty wall art.
How to improve the quality of your dried roses?
If your roses did not turn out as expected and you want to improve their appearance you can try steaming them. This procedure will give them a new breath of life. However, you need to be careful as it is easy to damage your dried roses.
Firstly, hold your rose directly above the steam coming from the kettle for a few seconds until the outer petals start to react. Secondly, remove the rose from the steam and gently rearrange its petals. If needed repeat the process.
Drying roses is a relaxing and beautiful process that keeps the memory of your special occasion alive or just allows you to enjoy your roses longer. As well it brings a romantic and precious touch to your space. You can make a dried flower bouquet for your desk or simply hang the rose on a piece of string to your wall. It’ll look so beautiful and be a keepsake forever. Why not try this with the next bunch of roses you’re given as a gift, or that you buy yourself!