How to preserve flowers from your garden to last months
How the magic happens
Drying time 3 to 5 days
Silica is a manufactured desiccant (moisture absorbing material) often found in packs added to new shoes, dry food packages, and other products that may spoil by liquid or humidity.
The silica has the appearance of hard, tiny beads but for drying flowers you want the small size beads to have the material fill in the small spaces of the flower and provide a greater area of contact from the silica to the flower surface to remove moisture from the flowers.
The larger silica bead sizes should not be used since the contact area between the silica beads surface of the flower is less and can cause dimpling of the fragile flower petals creating cosmetic issues in the final product.
While you may see Silica Bead Desiccant with Blue or Orange beads in the material you need to be aware of what these color beads are that make up 10% of the material and are used to show when the silica beads have absorbed all the moisture that they can.
Blue silica beads have cobalt chloride,
which allows the blue silica beads to change its color to pink when it has reached its maximized adsorption capacity. Do not use blue silica beads around food since the cobalt chloride is poisonous.
Orange silica beads have methyl violet
These can change from orange to green, or orange to colorless. It is also toxic and potentially poisonous.
White silica beads are a non-indicating silica. Non indicting means that when the silica beads adsorb moisture, it will continue to be white without any color change occurring.
Even with the indicating versions I still remove the excess moisture by either oven baking or microwaving between each use to ensure that the maximum amount of moisture can be removed as quickly as possible so the use of color indicating beads is not necessary.
The use of silica beads is a speedy method to dry flowers and, unlike pressing flowers, maintains the shape and vibrancy of a freshly picked blossom,
Flower materials that can be dried
Almost all flowers are dryable using the silica bead method.
Some flower colors dry with more vibrancy than others do. Orange & yellow flowers dry with the most vibrancy, while purple and blue flowers can dry darker than the original flower color.
Zinnia, Roses, Agapanthus, Eryngium, Aster, False-dragonhead, Clematis, Freesia, Carnation, Gladiolus, Chrysanthemum, Gypsophila, Coralbells, Gerbera, Hydrangea, Peony, Iris, Sunflower, Lavender, Solidago, Marigold, Statice, Poppy, Tulip, Pansy, Veronica among others are types of flowers that are dried well using silica beads.
Blooms with high water content like lilies are more of a challenge and not suitable for preserving with silica beads unless you use the microwave method that helps speed up the removal of moisture from the flower.
How to gather your flowers for drying
You will want to gather your flowers by picking the freshest-looking ones soon after they fully open. Flowers in full bloom for a couple of days are more likely to lose their petals when drying. Unlike for your cut flowers you are not looking for them to have the maximum moisture content, so they are best picked later in the day.
Cut your flower & leave about 1-inch of stem. You will use this to help atached the floral wires to the floower after it has dried.
How to Dry your Flowers
You will want to use a container deep enough to alllow the silica beads to completly cover the flower. In addition you want the container to be air tight to prevent the silica beads absorbing moisture from the are. You can use a nopn airtight container but you will want to place the container in a plastic bag you can seal.
Add an inch of silica beads to cover the bottom of your container.
then, place flowers face-up on top of the base of beads. The face up position helps allow the silica beads flow between the petals and help prevent the flower from being flatened under the weight of the silica beads.
Place silica beads beneath any delicate petals by gently pouring or tapping the sides of the container.
Keep on adding the silica beads until the flower is fully covered.
As you add the silica you want to tape the sides of the container to help work the silica beads in between the petals and all the recesses of the flower.
With the flower covered by the silica beads about one in deep you can now seal the lid on the container to begin the drying process.
You will leave the flower in the container for 2 to 5 days depending on how much moisture the flower material contains.
I recommend that you keep notes for each type of flower you dry to determine what the best time is for your materials and conditions.
More time is not better becuase if you leave the flowers in the silica beads too long, they will become brittle and shatter like glass when they are removed.
Delicately remove the dried flowers from the silica beads by gently poring off the silica beads from around the flower.
Then use a fine bristle brush to gently wipe away any extra dust or bits of silica beads remaining on the petals and surfaces of the flower. There will be silica beads traped in the stem so you may need to give it a gental tap to have them fall out.
To recreate the stem, you will use floral stem wire. This comes in different sizes. The larger the gauge number the smaller the wire size. You will select the wire based on the size and weight of the dried flow head.
Thread the wire thru the center of the flower with a small loop in the end of the wire to provide additional holding power and to help prevent the wire from rotating as you apply the floral tape
Push the loop into the flower head to help hide it.
Now you will apply the floral tape to the wire and the 1 inch of stem you left on the flower.
Take care in wrapping the tape on the flower as the dried flower petals are now brittle and can be broken off. If this happens you can reattach them with some glue.
.Wrap the floral tape down the wire using you thumb and for finger twisting the wire with your other hand. You want to have an overlap of each wrap of the floral tape by about half of its width. The length down the wire should be at least one inch but you can make it as far down the wire as you want.