The trouble with dried flowers is that often they end up looking very dry. I’m the first to admit that golds and browns are lovely (see Brown Is a Color and DIY: Winter Finery, Foraged in Brooklyn if you don’t believe me). But sometimes I want a pop of something brighter.
I sleuthed seven summertime flower varieties that will keep their shape and color long after they’ve dried. Here’s a simple, one-step technique to simultaneously dry and display colorful flowers in a small space.
Photography by Erin Boyle for Gardenista.
Above: Immediate gratification. I love the look of flowers tacked to a white wall. But fresh ones wilt almost immediately, so I jumped at the chance to use dried flowers to create a longer-lasting look. From the moment you hang the flowers to dry, they brighten a wall.
N.B.: If you hang them upside down, flowers will become stiff with straight, hardened stems after a few weeks. If you want, you can transfer them to a vase to create a second tabletop arrangement.
Above: My best mildly unscientific rule of thumb for finding proper drying flowers is to look for the fuzzy ones. Celosia, amaranth, goldenrod, sea lavender–all of them have fuzzy, thick flower heads that hold their shape once all of the moisture has been wicked away. So, cherish your cosmos while you they’re fresh, but consider saving a few of these fuzzier fellows for a little bit of cheer come November.
Above: From top to bottom, I chose burgundy amaranth, spiked celosia, globe amaranth, lime light spray millet, crested celosia, sea lavender, and goldenrod.
Above: Delightfully moody, burgundy amaranth makes a strong filler in larger dried arrangements. Because of the larger size of the flowers, they’ll take a bit longer to dry, but the end result is well worth the wait. Burgundy Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) seeds are available seasonally from Seeds of Change for $3.49/packet.
Above: My favorite celosia variety, these thick, arrow-like plumes work well in dried arrangements and hold their own as finishing touches on housewarming presents and wall decor. The similar Ruby Parfait Spiked Celosia (Celosia spicata) is $3.95/packet at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Above: Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) is a cutting garden staple and a sure thing when it comes to drying. Hang fresh-cut flowers to ensure a strong stem. A mixed-variety seed pack–QIS Formula Mix–is $3.65 from Johnny’s Selected seeds. N.B. The darker magentas and purples will hold their color better than the more subtle pinks.
Above: Not a flower, exactly, but ornamental grasses dry beautifully. The bright green Lime Light Spray Millet (Setaria italica) keeps its vibrant shade of green after drying; $3.45/packet at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Above: This crested celosia is slightly less brainy looking than some of its brothers and sisters in the same family, and its shades are bright enough when fresh that the flowers retain bright color even after drying. The Bombay Purple Crested Celosia (Celosia argentea cristata) is $3.64/packet at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
Above: Sea lavender makes a sweet filler that looks nearly the same fresh as dry. A packet of Sea Lavender (Limonium latifolium) seeds are $2.49 at Swallowtail Garden Seeds.
Above: Bright yellow flowers tend to hold their color best of all. As plentiful in grocery store flower shops as they are on the side of the road, Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is an easy choice. A packet of seeds is $1.99 at Swallowtail Garden Seeds.
Above: To dry flowers using the hang dry method, harvest flowers at their peak bloom (or buy when super fresh), tie them in bunches according to type, and hang them upside down to dry.
Above: A drying shed at a flower farm is one of the pleasanter places you might find yourself at the end of summer. The air inside is thick and sweet and the ceiling is filled with colorful bunches strung from the rafters in orderly rows. If you don’t have a drying shed of your own, don’t despair. A closet or an attic, or any spot tucked away from the light will be sufficient.
Above: Be mindful of the sun. While these flowers should retain much of their color after drying, the sun is a dried flower’s worst enemy. Showcase your flowers in a spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight for long-lasting color.
Above: A piece of tape is all it takes to hold them in place.