Walk into Bloomingayles Floral Design shop, and you immediately forget that you just stepped into a metal shipping container. Owner and Mill Valley resident Gayle Nicoletti has transformed the once sterile space into an artful atelier bursting with flowers, vintage objects, crystals, Moroccan glassware, and nature-inspired gifts. Known for her non-traditional approach to floral arrangements, Gayle honors and celebrates a flower’s entire life, from seed to wilt. Wanting to work more sustainably and recognizing that her clients desire for arrangements that last longer, she incorporates less perishable floral items into her work, such as feathers, seed pods, dried grasses, air plants, orchids, and of course, dried flowers.
Recently, as she worked on a signature composition of both fresh-cut stems and long-withered blooms, we chatted about the best way to dry flowers. Below, she details the easy steps.
Photography by Kier Holmes.
1. Choose the right flowers to dry.
“My top favorites are straw flowers, Billy buttons, king proteas, queen proteas and Banksias. I also love using sea thistle, globe thistle, safflower, and of course, hydrangeas, the queen of dried flowers,” says Gayle. Why? “Because they are textural and have gorgeous natural colors and shapely and sculptural stems. Plus, they can be grown in your garden and enjoyed freshly cut and then dried, continuing the sustainable trail.”
2. Remove foliage and dry in water.
“After harvesting or buying already cut flowers, always remove the lower foliage and remove thorns from the stems. And you should do this step before hydrating to avoid adding bacteria to the water. Proteas, sea thistle, safflower, eucalyptus, and billy buttons can dry in the vase standing straight up in about two to three inches of water. To avoid the stems rotting, change the water every few days and give the stems a fresh cut. After one to two weeks, the blooms should be dried and the remaining water emptied.”
3. Or hang upside down to dry.
“Some flowers, like roses, lavender, grasses, and straw flowers, need to dry out of water and be hung upside down in a cool, shady spot for the stems to dry straight and for the blossoms to dry looking up when placed back in a vase. Once your blooms are dried, you can place them in a vase or container with no water, making this a sustainable, nature-inspired arrangement to be enjoyed without maintenance for a long time.”
For more on dried botanicals, see:
- Dried Flowers: 7 Ideas for Grasses, Seedpods, and Branches
- Rethinking Statice: A 1980s Dried Flower Goes Minimalist
- The Botanical Life: At Home with London Stylist Yasuyo Harvey