There are two primary ways to dry flowers, depending on the type of flowers, and how you plan to use them. One method, pressing, involves drying the flowers in a weighted press, which will compress them so that they are flat at the end of the drying period. You can also hang-dry flowers, allowing them to retain their shape. Some plants are better suited to one method over the other; for example, violets and pansies flat-dry very well, while roses tend to be more suitable for hang-drying.
To press flowers, you can either use a specially designed flower press, or a set of heavy books. You can also make your own flower press using weights such as bricks and boards. Select the plant you want to press, and start by gently pressing them with your hands on between two sheets of paper. By flattening the flowers yourself, rather than leaving the pressing up to chance, you can ensure that they look as neat as possible. Once you've pre-flattened the plant, transfer them to your flower press or weight them between books, leaving the paper in place to reduce staining.
After approximately two weeks, theyshould be totally flat and dried, although large or fleshy plants may need more time. You can spray them with a fixative to prevent crumbling and help them retain color if desired, or use them as they are. Pressed flowers can be used in crafts like paper and candle making, among other things, and they should retain some of their natural color and scent, especially if kept in a cool, dry place. They can also be laminated to ensure that they stay in good shape.
To hang-dry flowers, select the plants you want to dry and tie them in bunches with string. Hang the bouquets upside down in a dry, slightly warm room, and leave them hanging until they have turned dry and slightly papery. One to two weeks of hanging is usually sufficient. The smaller you make the bouquets, the quicker they will dry. Hang-dried flowers can also be sprayed with fixative, if desired.
When you work with dried flowers, be sure not to expose them to moisture. They can mold or rot very easily, which is undesirable. Some people like to store them with packets of dessicant to absorb any moisture which may be present in the air.