Cut flowers are one of the little luxuries that make life sweet. Whether I buy flowers or cut my own, I try to keep them fresh for as long as possible, and always feel a pang of regret when I finally have to throw them out. Drying cut flowers is a great way to keep some of the beauty around.
Dried cut flowers have a pleasant scent of their own, and can be dressed up with dried citrus peels or essential oils for homemade potpourri.
In the Florida humidity, most traditional forms of drying flowers are out of the question, especially for heavy flowers like roses. Don’t worry, you don’t have to miss out on the beauty of dried flowers just because you live in a humid climate. You can use any oven to achieve beautiful results.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time keeping an eye on your flowers as they dry, you could invest in a food dehydrator, but I have good success drying my flowers in the oven and don’t mind taking the time to watch over them. For the best color and scent in dried flowers, dry when they are just beginning to wilt or before they have wilted.
It is best to use an oven safe rack that is raised up so the flowers can be lodged into the squares and kept upright. I cut as high up as I can to remove the green base below the petals. The more bulk you remove, the more successful drying will be. Be careful not to cut too high or the petals will come apart.
Position smaller and thinner flowers on one side of the rack so that they can be nearer the open oven door. I set my oven as low as it will go and leave the door open about halfway.
I check every hour until a sweet smell somewhere between a flower and baked goods fills the house.
At this point I begin checking and removing dried flowers every half hour. I check for dryness by pushing gently down on the middle of the flower. Any softness means they need more time.
If it seems that one side is getting drier than another, you can turn the trays around in the oven. Let the flowers cool completely before using them in potpourri or an arrangement. Wood bowls or bowls with holes for air flow are best.
If using a bowl without airflow put down a layer of rice to prevent humidity from accumulating. Enjoy your flowers for many months to come. The less direct light they receive, the longer their color will last. When the smell dissipates, just add a few drops of oil to bring it back.