Drying Rose Flowers: Tips For Old Tried and True and Newer Systems

Drying rose flowers can be accomplished in many different ways now that science and our kitchens have reached into the garden. 

Let me start however with the oldest system. 

air-drying

Roses can be cut with a long stem and hung, upside down, in a dark and dry room. Light will cause the flowers to fade. Do not hang them in any room with high humidity (like the basement) as they'll rot rather than dry. 

Increasing ventilation in this dark, dry room will make the flowers dry faster. 

Not Too Many Together

When drying rose flowers, do not put too many roses together in a bundle or you run the risk of crushing flowers. It is far better to ensure the bundles are small enough so no rose is touching another rose when hung upside down. 

Use rubber bands or something soft to tie the stems together as you do not want to crush these. Mind you, it is pretty hard to crush a rose stem but stranger things have happened. 

I've use an old wood clothes dryer to hang the drying rose flowers from and this worked really well. 

Rose  Hybrid Tea 'Marmalade Skies'

Rose  Hybrid Tea 'Marmalade Skies'

how long does it take

You're usually looking at one to two weeks for the blooms to dry down depending on temperatures and humidity levels. Do check them regularly and if you find a bloom rotting, remove it to the garbage. 

old-fashioned pressing flowers

Some rose gardeners prefer drying rose flowers by pressing them. 

Put the flowers between layers of unglazed, white paper (newsprint may leave smudges on the flowers) and then place several layers of flowers/paper/flowers/paper between two boards. 

A heavy object such as a brick is placed on the top board to squish the boards together (that's why they call it "pressing".) :-)

Pressing roses can take upwards of a month for the rose to dry and flatten out. 

some modern techniques for drying rose flowers

glycerine

Glycerine is the entry point for the modern age for preserving and drying rose flowers. Gather the flowers at the stage you want them to appear. They should be fully hydrated (full of water) so cut them first thing in the morning. 

Completely submerge the blooms in a mix of two parts of water to one part of glycerine (I'm told that regular automobile anti-freeze works really well too). Two to three weeks later the flowers will never freeze and will always start on cold mornings (NO wait. That's another commercial). 

Two to three weeks later your blooms should be fully saturated and ready to remove from the fluid. 

It is a good idea to hang the flowers upside down to dry. This puts more preservative into the flower tips and helps prevent them from wilting or bending over. 

silica gel on roses

One of the most popular drying systems involves silica gel. This material dries out flowers very quickly and this speed helps preserve the natural colour of the flower. 

Put the blooms to be dried in a closed container with the silica gel. The gel will absorb the moisture from the flowers within a week. The container must have a tight lid or the gel will absorb moisture from the air and not the drying rose flowers. 

Note that sometimes flowers dried with this method will reabsorb moisture and rot. This is particularly true in homes with high humidity. 

kitty litter? Borax?  You have to tell me

I'm told that kitty litter works well as a substitute for Silica.

Also that a  2:1 mix of borax and sand although both of these will take longer to work than the silica gel. 

My kitty litter is used for the cat.  Yeah, I'm a bit old-fashioned that way. ;-)

the microwave

Well, I've done this but we don't use a microwave so it's no longer on my personal to-do list.

The microwave, that indispensable denizen of the school of fast cooking, is the latest addition to the school of drying rose flowers.

There are several "recipes" for using the microwave and this is not a well defined process as individual flowers create differences. The best advice I can give you is to use the following suggestions as a guideline for your own experimenting. 

A microwave safe container is used to hold the blooms you want to dry. Put a half inch or inch of drying material such as silica gel on the bottom of the container. Put the flower to be dried on the silica gel. 

Lightly dust the petals with silica gel. One method is to pour the gel (gently) around the outside of the container to create a bank of gel and then very lightly level and tap the container to force the gel to move to the center where it will cover and coat the petals. 

Using a high setting, (I'm told the defrost setting is an excellent setting for this) and a half pound of silica gel or other drying agent, you'll find your flowers will dry down in approximately two and a half minutes. 

If you have a microwave thermometer (no metal on it) then you're looking for the gel to reach 160F and this temperature indicates the flowers are dry. If you do have a thermometer, then the power setting is not critical, you have the tool to decide when the flower is "done". 

After "cooking" put a lid (not sealed tight) on the container and allow the container to sit for 24 hours before very carefully uncovering the flowers.

You've successfully finished drying your rose flowers. 

If you have some suggestions for other readers about drying roses - feel free to add your comments below








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