Nowadays natural dried flowers are extremely popular as flower arrangements. There is a huge market for dried flowers all over the world. Many people prefer naturally dried flowers to artificial flowers for decoration purposes. Flowers are grown specifically for this purpose under controlled soil and weather conditions. They can be decorated as a bunch or a garland along with the necessary dry foliage. They can also be decorated in baskets or as a spray. Pressed dry flowers can be framed for display.

This type of arrangement prolongs the life of natural flowers and adds a classy touch to the room. Usually natural flowers are sun-dried, air-dried and sometimes water dried. These dry flowers are then used for arrangements. Dry flowers should not be kept in direct sunlight, as they tend to fade faster. They should not be kept near heater vents since the dry air tends to damage the dry flowers.

Cultivation of flowers for drying

The flowers for making dry arrangements are grown only under particular conditions. They are grown in full sunlight in aerated soil. The soil must be neutral for maximizing cultivation. If the soil is acidic one must use fertilizer to make it neutral. In case the soil is sandy one has to water it frequently. Thus the use of fertilizer and schedule of watering depends on the type and nature of the soil. It also depends on the type of flowering plant being cultivated.

Once the plants have flowered they have to be cut for drying. The right time for this is mid morning. The cut flowers are immediately bunched and their stems are tied together and hung away from sunlight for drying. The right time to cut flowers is when they are just about to open. So as they dry they open up and will last longer. If one picks up a flower late, it will shed its petals by the time it is dry. Therefore the time for cutting flowers depends on the variety of the flower.

Methods of drying flowers

Several methods are used for drying fresh flowers.

» The simplest method is to hang the flowers from a wire and let them dry. The flowers are hung from their stems

in a dark but well ventilated room like a barn, or attic at suitable humidity levels. Darkness is preferred to prevent the fading of natural color of the flowers. Flowers are hung to maintain the straightness of the stems. If one is drying just the heads, they can be simply dried on a newspaper. Light bunches also do not require to be hung. Most flowers dry within a day. Dry flowers should however not feel lifeless, but must retain some stiffness.

» Pressing is the commonest form of preserving flowers. One can press flowers between the pages of a book. On a commercial scale special presses are used to press flowers like violets and ferns.

» Sometimes one can use materials like silica gel for drying purposes. This is good for drying flowers like roses and the flowers dry in a week. For best results the gel should be placed in a tightly sealed container.

» One can also use glycerin to dry flowers.

» Sometimes water is used to dry flowers. The cut stems are placed in water and the water is allowed to evaporate or be absorbed by the cut stems. The container should be in a dark room.

» Flowers can be dried using materials like borax and sand.

» Dry flowers sprayed with hair spray become water resistant.

Natural dried flowers can last forever if stored properly. The flowers should be wrapped

in newspapers and kept in a dark room. To drive away insects and rats mothballs should be placed where they are stored.

By using the methods described above one can dry and preserve foliage, cones, mistletoe besides natural dried flowers. Dry flowers arrangement thus made lend a festive air to the room. They do not need frequent changing. If the color fades they can be repainted with similar looking artificial colors. A coat of varnish adds luster to the stems of flowers and the flowers themselves. In this way dried flowers are a good and inexpensive way to decorate one’s surroundings. It can be an interesting hobby that requires not much effort of expenses.