The picture below shows British lavender bunches drying in a barn. The bunches are tied upside down to a drying rack until dry. Drying under cover in a barn is one method commonly employed in the UK and France, where spoilage by damp air and rain is a significant factor. In sunnier climes, however, drying outside is the norm. Dried rose petals in Pakistan, India and Iran for example, may be laid out in the open air on giant sheets or tables to dry naturally.
In the UK, industrial drying methods may also employ the use of a drying floor, for example for dried lavender, where the circulation of warm air aids the drying process, and prevents the build up of moulds and other damp-loving organisms.
The air drying of flowers is a bulk process, and so usually produces dried flowers which are less expensive than other drying methods such as freeze drying or glycerin preservation.
Examples of air dried petals and flowers at DaisyShop: dried lavender, dried rose petals such as small burgundy rose petals, rose buds in pink, burgundy and red, marigold petals, chamomile flowers, cornflower petals, and delphinium petal confetti.
Examples of our whole dried flower bunches include lavender bunches, dried wheat and pretty delphinium bunches. Some of these dried flower bunches are grown and dried in the UK, and a few,such as sea lavender bunches (image below) and gypsophila bunches in our own workshops.
See the next section if you would like to try drying your own bunches.
It is quite straight forward to dry flowers at home using this method, although results vary, so experimentation is always recommended. Collect a bunch of your favourite flowers, tie together loosely, then hang upside down somewhere where there is good air circulation. The airing cupboard offers fast results, but a garage or even an open porch can be effective, although the process may take longer. Drying in a bright greenhouse may not be as suitable, because although the flowers dry quickly, they may also loose some of their bright colours in the strong sunlight.
Alternative home air drying methods are the use of ovens. Laying blooms on a baking tray in a low (30C) oven overnight can work, and is particularly good for drying fruit slices and flat objects. There are also books available on the subject of using a microwave oven for drying flowers in combination with a desiccant such as silica sand.
Unfortunately, air drying usually causes brittleness.
Freeze drying is a method applied to delicate flowers to prevent the wrinkling or colour loss which may be associated with air drying.
It requires expensive specialist machinery, but results in a bloom that looks fresh as the moment it was picked. Because it is an expensive process, and their is almost individual attention paid to each bloom, only premium flowers and petals are used. Freeze dried flowers are expensive to buy but worth it if they are going to be viewed closely, for example in a wedding table decoration.
The freeze drying process works by reducing the petals slowly and carefully to temperatures well below freezing under vacuum. As the temperature is slowly brought up again (over a period of days), the water evaporates from the petals and freezes onto a specially cooled plate and is removed.
This cannot be carried out at home!
[We no longer sell freeze dried flowers as there was insufficient demand considering the high price.]
Technically, this is not a method of producing dried flowers, as the flowers remain "wet". The process entails replacing any water in the flowers with a combination of glycerine preservative and dye. This results in a supple flower, not brittle. It means flower colour can be accurately selected. But the additives mean that there is a slightly increased chance of staining due to the dye if used. This preservation technique is often used for rose petals.
We only stock one preserved flower: dried hydrangea petals. These make fabulous dried flower petal confetti. The above image shows duck egg blue hydrangea petals mixed with ivory delphinium petal confetti.