The basics of flower drying and making potpourri

Dried flowers can make a very natural-looking floral arrangement that will last you a long time, and if you do the drying yourself, the cost is minimal. And dried roots, herbs and pine cones can combine to make potpourri.

The basics of flower drying and making potpourri

Drying flowers

1. Remove the leaves from the stems. Then bundle the stems together in groups of six with a rubber band. Hang the bundle upside down by string from a rod or a clothesline in a dry, warm place, such as a closet or the attic. The stems are hung upside down so that the flowers don't flop over during drying.

2. Leave bundles for a week or two or until the flowers are dry to the touch.

Drying medium for preserving flowers

  • Many flowers dry better in a drying medium, which you can make yourself much more economically than if you buy it.
  • Most flowers dry best and last longest when they are picked fresh and are just beginning to open.
  • This drying medium will dry many kinds and colours of flowers and buds, although you must recreate their stems with floral wire and floral tape.
  • To preserve their colour, display dried flowers out of direct sunlight.

What you need

  • 500 g (1 lb) borax
  • 500 g (1 lb) cornmeal
  • 7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) salt
  • Flowers and flower buds
  • Artist's brush with pointed tip

What to do

1. Preheat oven to 93°C (200°F). In an open casserole dish, mix borax, cornmeal and salt. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to completely dry the contents.

2. Pour half of the drying mixture into a shoebox or plastic storage container. Set aside the remainder of the drying mixture.

3. Make a shallow well in the centre of the mix. Trim the stem of a bud or flower to 2.5 centimetres (one inch) long. Hold the flower and trickle cornmeal mix between its petals to fill the blossom. Place the flower into the well in the container of mix, stem-end-down. Repeat with as many flowers as will fit in the container.

4. Pour the remainder of the mix over all flowers until they are buried. Set the container in a warm, dry, dark place, such as a closet, for two weeks.

5. After drying, remove flowers carefully from the mix and brush cornmeal mix from petals with an artist's brush. Fasten flowers and buds for arrangements onto floral wire stems with floral tape. You can hot-glue short stems to wreaths and gift packages.

Potpourri mixes

  • A bowl of fragrant, flowery potpourri can fill a room with the essence of summer, even in the dead of winter.
  • Make potpourri to perfume your own home or as homemade gifts.
  • If you don't have a garden, ask your florist for past-their-peak flowers — such as lavender, statice and roses — lemon leaves that you can dry.

What you need

  • 750 g (3 c) dried flower petals, herb leaves and small pine cones (optional)
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) dried orrisroot (available at craft or herb stores)
  • 10 drops essential oil (one type or a blend of your choosing)

What to do

1. In a large bowl, mix flower petals, herb leaves, small pine cones, if using, and orrisroot.

2. Sprinkle essential oils over the dry ingredients and stir to distribute the fragrance.

3. Display in an open bowl out of direct sunlight, and add a couple drops of oil, as needed, to refresh the fragrance.Store or give as a gift in a sealed glass or plastic container.

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