How to Preserve Flowers

The estimated number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day in 2012 was 224 million. V-day is the number one holiday for florists in terms of fresh flower purchases. So what do you do when your bouquet starts to wilt? You could dry them and press them, ultimately leaving you with a pretty, organic set of non-stick stickers to use in various crafts. However, if instant gratification is more your style, there’s a few alternatives that don’t take months to create.

1) Dry Preservation
This is the simplest method and will dry your flowers in a way that they will retain their shape and most of their color. This works exceptionally well with roses, but you have to make the decision to dry them before they begin to wilt, or you’ve got a lost cause on your hands.

Once your roses are fully blossomed, but not yet beginning to wilt, gather them together at the stems and tie them together near the bottom. A hair tie or other elastic band work best. Next, attach them to a wire hanger or a string and hang the roses upside down in a warm, dry, relatively dark place (a closet is typically ideal for this).
IMG_0601

The darker the storage area, the more likely it is that the flowers will retain their color. Keep the flowers hanging for about a week to 10 days, or until the flowers are crisp to the touch. Removing them before they are completely dry risks molding.
Once the flowers are dry, take them down and arrange them as you please; no more water-changing maintenance!

2) Potpourri
An alternative to a dry arrangement, if you’d like to appeal to your sense of smell instead, is to recycle your roses or other flowers into potpourri. Again, roses are particularly good for making potpourri, especially if you dry them before they’ve lost all of their scent. For this project, remove the petals from the flower once it has fully blossomed, but before its petals turn brown. Lay them flat in a single layer on paper towels somewhere that’s out of your way for a week or more until they are fully crisp.
Once the petals are dry, you have quite a few options in terms of how you want your potpourri to smell (or really, how fancy you want to get with the project). You could add a complimentary spice, like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla beans. Or you could skip to the next most important ingredient, essential oil, an aroma additive that when mixed with the natural aroma of the flowers gives off a lasting scent.lavenderoilLavender oil pairs particularly nicely with the scent of roses. You can grab some, or other essential oils at the Vitamin Shoppe. An easy alternative is to use a few drops of your favorite perfume.
Once you’ve settled on a scent, put a drop of the oil on each of the dried rose petals, and then put the petals in a sealed container (Tupperware is perfect for this). Let the petals mellow for about 10 days in the sealed container, shaking it gently every few days to keep mixing the scents. After this time, you’ve got easy and (most importantly) cheap potpourri! Say goodbye to that bottle of Febreeze stashed under your bed- this is the real deal.

You can leave your potpourri out in a dish:
rosepotpourri(image courtesy of lizbethsgarden.wordpress.com)

Or split it up into small fabric bags and play potpourri Santa to your friends so that everyone can wake up and smell the (dried) roses.

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About Brenna McKinley

I'm a two-time Marist College grad with degrees in Communications (BA) and Integrated Marketing Communication (MA).

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