How To Dry Flowers For Winter Arrangements

Preserving the Ornamental Garden: How to Dry Flowers, Leaves, Stems, and Pods for Crafting

Collecting flowers, leaves, stems, and pods from the garden now will give you a treasure trove of beautiful dried plants to craft with all year long. Read on to learn how to dry flowers as well as leaves, stems, and seed pods from your garden, plus some creative projects you can try with them. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you see how much beauty is left behind once the blooms fade.

Preserving the Ornamental Garden means capturing what is left behind when the plants start to fade

The garden provides fun and nourishment every month of the year. Spring brings salad and other vegetables from winter plantings. Summer provides berries, fruit, and tender greens, and herbs are ready to harvest for the coming year’s teas, pestos and scented sachets. Fall is the time for harvesting all the good food remaining so we can dry or freeze it for winter dinners.

Dried flower stems for craft projects

Let us not forget, though, that in summer the garden is also full of beautiful flowers, both perennials and annuals. These fill the house with perfume and delight us with their color. By fall, the flowers are losing their petals, just as the trees lose their colorful leaves.

Bouquet of dried and pressed flowers

When to Harvest

The flowers leave behind interesting seed pods and dried stalks which are wonderful for crafts.  Don’t be too hasty with the pruners, as many species just dry in the garden and can be picked in mid-fall.

For more fragile plants, it is best to pick a collection of stems when they look their best in the garden.

Related: How to Harvest and Dry English Lavender

How to Dry Flowers

Dry flowers by grouping them into bunches and hanging them upside down in the open air, away from the rain or indoors.

Some flowers hold color better if you dry them slowly. Read more here on how to dry hydrangea blooms to retain their color.

To preserve tender leaves and colorful petals, harvest them at their peak of color and place them on pages of last year’s telephone book under weights. The paper in these books is absorbent and provides lots of space to dry the flowers. I have tried plant presses but store-bought ones only hold a small number, so I made my own bigger one. As you can imagine, you can press many specimens in the pages of a phone book. 

floral mix of pressed and dried spring flowers and leafs rustic

Now Get Crafty!

I’m sure you can think of many crafts to make with these lovely plants. My favorite uses are:

To make pictures like this one:Dried native flowersTo make cards for the winter holidays or for many other uses such as thank-you notes, birthdays, and for craft fairs or gifts.

pressed leaf cards - how to press leaves and lots of ideas to use themTo make herbal tea sachets or scented sachets from herbs and sweet scented flowers to tuck into drawers and cupboards.

Lavender Dryer BagsTo make wreaths that last all year long.

easy fall Hydrangea wreath

dried flower wreath

To make bouquets from dried flowers for winter use.

They have the wonderful quality of not requiring watering when we head out for warmer climes in the winter.  I also buy inexpensive pottery vases and make long-lasting floral gifts for autumn and winter hostesses.

Preserving the ornamental garden

dried oregano and oregon grape

My favorite plants for dried for arrangements are:

  • Rose
  • Hydrangea
  • Luneria
  • Oregano/Sage
  • Golden Hop
  • Sedum
  • Wild Grasses, Ornamental Grasses,  Sedges, Common Rush
  • Mahonia (Oregon grape) leaves, stems and berries
  • Pearly Everlasting
  • Echinops
  • Eryngium
  • Pods – large poppies, Monarda, Siberian iris, Nigella, daylily

Now go grab some clippers and head out to the garden for a treasure hunt. In the colder winter months when the garden has been put to bed, you will be glad that you did!

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