The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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How To Dry Flowers

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1991

Issue: September, 1991

I really love summer. I know that fall is a beautiful time of year, but my favorite season has always been summer. I hang on to summer and try to keep it with me all year round by drying the last blooms of my favorite flowers.

In the words of the poets, "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." Add to that, "and preserve them for a winter bouquet." Dried flowers make beautiful arrangements and you can use them to decorate everything from baskets to picture frames for homemade presents. Drying flowers isn't difficult. Anyone can do it. And it beats the expensive prices for bought dried bouquets.

All you will need is borax, white cornmeal, salt and a wide, but shallow cardboard or plastic box. Don't use a metal box. Mix equal parts of the borax and cornmeal and add three tablespoons of salt to each quart of the borax/cornmeal mixture.

Cover the bottom of the box with the mixture. Carefully place flowers in it and cover them with enough of the mixture to bury the flowers. Choose the freshest flowers for the best results. Roses dry beautifully, as do zinnias and marigolds. Store this uncovered in a warm, dry place where it won't be disturbed. Leave them for about ten days then test for dryness. If not dry, leave them for a few more days. They will be dry when the petals are stiff.

Shake the flowers gently when you remove them from the box to get the mixture off of them. If some mixture clings, you can brush it off with a small paint brush. If any of the heads fall off of the flowers, you can use the colorful flower heads in a potpourri. Many weeds dry well and make pretty arrangements also. A little experimenting with different types of flowers would be fun. Flowers that do not fall off the stem easily when fresh dry best.

This method for drying flowers is an old one. Through the generations, there must have been many other women like me, who wished to save a little summer for later, to enjoy when the north winds blow and snow covers the earth.