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This old fashioned craft has once again ignited the interest of contemporary society. A particular person may have given you a bouquet of roses, or you want to preserve the special cut flowers you have picked from your very own flower garden. There are extraordinary “wild flowers” growing profusely in a wind blown field that you can “just picture” in a wreath or swag. Or perhaps you want to press a flower from a wedding or other occasions.

Collect materials for drying at their peak stage. Flowers may be cut at different stages, while they are budding and up to full bloom. Avoid collecting when they are beginning to decline. Most plant material can be dried including:
Branches
Seed pods
Cones
Nuts
Berries
Fruits grains
* Collect more than enough to make up for inevitable loss.
* After collecting place the stems of the plants in water for a while to better retain color.
* Do not pick diseased or insect infested foliage.
* Bring along a sharp knife or pruning shears.

Methods of drying plants are air-dried, pressed or buried in a plant drying mixture. Some vegetation is naturally dry and requires less work to preserve them.

Naturally Dry:
These include dry grasses, seedpod, pine and other cones, and reeds. Pick these when they are in good condition preferably at the end of the growing season. Pick cattails when they are just turning brown. You will need to clean the material up somewhat, some may need to be washed, some that are fragile may be sprayed with hair spray to keep them together. Fruits and cones may be sprayed with lacquers to make them shine and help to keep them.

Drying by Air:
This method is simpler than other ways of conserving flowers and plants. Flowers and wild plants can be picked and tied together at the stem in bundles. Hang them upside down in an area that is dry and warm. Make sure there is good air circulation around the bunches of flowers. The following flowers lend themselves well to air-drying.

Crimson Clover
Baby’s Breath
Dusty-miller
Chives
Dock
Goldenrod
Marigold
Rose
Salvia
Grasses
Hydrangea
And there are many more that you will find as you work in this paticular craft.

The flowers should be completely dry, then sort them and place in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.

Pressing:
Most plants and foliage with simple flowers press well. Some of the uses for these are on stationary and pictures. Pansies, as well as ferns make an excellent pressed plant. For natural curvature, leaves and branches with foliage in tact can be pressed, as well as those and more that are listed below.

* Crocus
* Bleeding heart
* Daffodil
* Larkspur
* Viola
* Salvia
* Sweet pea
* Zinnia

Burying Flowers:
This is accomplished by using various mixtures that remove moisture and support the shape and form. The most common burying mixtures are borax and silica gel.

Silica Gel:
This product is sold under different names and can be found at most craft stores, florists, and garden stores. It is kept in airtight containers. As the gel removes the moisture the crystals change color. You can reuse the gel by spreading it in a shallow pan and heating to approximately 200 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour.

Silica gel is a chemical that is expensive, but is superb at drying flowers. It works much faster than borax and can be re-used if dried correctly.

Borax Mixture:
A detergent (borax) with cornmeal or sand mixed into it is an inexpensive way to dry flowers. Cornmeal is light and will be less likely to distort the shape of flowers by it’s weight. The proportion varies but it is generally agreed that 1 part borax to between 1-10 parts cornmeal is usual. Use 1-2 tablespoons of salt per quart of the mixture and this will increase the drying procedure. This combination can be used again, spread in a shallow pan and bake for about 1 hour at 200 degrees.

1. Select the container you will use.
2. Leave the container uncovered during the drying.
3. Allow for good air circulation.
4. Make sure the box is deep enough to cover the flowers totally.
5. If you are using silica gel use an airtight container.
6. Position, face-up, or down, or horizontally.

Place at least ½ inch of mixture in the bottom of the receptacle. Make sure the flowers do not touch each other. Sift the mixture gently on and around the flowers until completely covered. When the flowers are thoroughly dry, which could be from 5 days to 3 weeks, check them at least daily after the first 5 days. When dry remove them carefully and shake the loose material off while brushing (with a soft brush) the material aroung the petals.