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Fresh flowers – whether picked directly from your garden or garden or via a professional bouquet or arrangement – have a relatively short shelf life. No matter how clean you keep the water or how many of those little flower shop parcels you put in the vase, part of the novelty is that they won’t be there forever. That is, unless you dry them properly.

In an article for Better Homes & Gardens, Kelly Roberson walks us through the process of air drying flowers, which gives you decorative materials all year round. Here’s what you should know.

How to air dry fresh flowers

Most flowers can be air dried – good news for those who prefer a more hands-free approach. Flowers such as hydrangeas and spherical thistles with sturdy stems can simply be placed in an empty vase in a cool room with low humidity and dried in this way. Robertson explains.

But for everything else, it’s best to dry the flowers hanging upside down, she says. Here is What should I do:

  1. In the morning, cut the flowers with sharp secateurs or flower shears when the dew has dried.
  2. In deciding which flowers to snip, Roberson says that one should choose ones that are not fully open and not fully mature, stating that “they can open wider as they dry and lose petals when [they’re] fully developed. “
  3. Once the flowers are cut, remove unnecessary greens from the stems, such as leaves or other foliage.
  4. It is up to you whether you leave the flowers as individual flowers or group them into small bunches. If using bundles, tie them together with string or floss.
  5. Then string the bunches and / or solo flowers together (like they are hanging on a clothesline). Make sure you keep the flowers and bunches apart to allow air to circulate between the flowers and prevent mold from forming on them.
  6. Hang the flowers upside down in a cool, dry, dark place. Roberson says putting a fan in the room on a low setting can also help stop mold growth.

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You can tell the flowers are done drying when they feel dry and stiff, explains Roberson. And there isn’t a set schedule for drying flowers, she says: depending on the types of flowers you’re working with and the conditions of the room you’re drying in, it could take a few days or even several weeks.