are a number of different methods of drying flowers and foliage,
and one of them is method with silica gel. The use of silica gel in
flowers takes a little more patience, but the results are exhilarating.
Some flowers are not really suitable for air drying, but you could dry
them using a drying agent. The types of flowers that require silica gel
for best preservation are listed below:
Anemones, Azaleas, Daisies, Dogwood, Freesia, Grape Hyacinths, Lily of
the Valle, Marigolds, Mimosa, Orchids, Pansies, Passion flowers,
Primroses, Queen Anne's lace, Roses, Snapdragons, Stokesias, Zinnias.
Crocuses, Irises and Tulips are tricky because they are rather freshly
and contain too much water, but you could experiment by drying them
All of these flowers have fleshy stems and very delicate petals and the
trick is to dehydrate the blooms rapidly enough to preserve both their
vibrant, natural colors and their intricate shapes. Silica gel has been
used commercially for many years.
are two types of silica gel:
has a built-in color indicator, bright blue crystals of cobalt chloride
which act as moisture indicators. As the silica gel begins to absorb
from the flowers embedded in it, the cobalt chloride crystals will
this by turning light blue and then pink. When the silica gel has
up to 40 % of its own weight in moisture, it will no longer be
in removing moisture from flowers. At this point, the cobalt chloride
will indicate this state of super saturation by turning white. The
gel must then be reactivated before it can be successfully used
other type of crystal is white.
types are made up of large crystals which must be ground down. The
gel that is manufactured expressly for use in preserving flowers is a
agent, almost powdery in texture. Silica gel can be bought from most
stores, garden centers, chemists, hobby or craft stores. They sell
gel under various brand names and packages (Flower-Dri, Hazel Pearson
and the best is to shop around to find good brand and suitable
remove the moisture from silica gel and turn the crystals back to blue,
put the silica gel in an old but clean and dry shallow, oven-proof dish
(such as a lasagna casserole) and putting the dish in the oven at
- for half an hour or until the cobalt chloride crystals return to
original bright blue color. At this point, the silica gel is ready to
used again or to be stored in airtight containers for cooling until
As silica gel will absorb moisture from the air as well as from flowers
buried in it, it is best to keep it covered at all times.
gel is not toxic, but remember never use silica gel containers or
for preparing food after you use them for drying flowers or for drying
silica gel, because they often absorbs pesticides from plants as they
dry flowers and foliage with silica gel it is necessary to pick them
they have just opened and in perfect shape. All plants going into the
must be perfect, any flaws will be accentuated and look ugly.
is imperative that the flowers be absolutely dry. If dew or some other
moisture is on the petals at the time you cover the flower with silica
gel, the silica gel will stick to the petals. In trying to remove the
gel once the flower is dried, you may
the entire flower.
gel requires no hit while drying, unlike other methods.
is very important to use airtight containers for drying with silica gel
because it will readily absorb moisture from the air.
the flowers are to be used for gluing, the flower steams should be
to 1" to about 1 1/2" (2,5cm to 3,8 cm).
is advisable to wire the stems before placing them in the silica gel as
they do tend to be more fragile afterwards. Wiring creates a strong
of any length that can be inserted into a floral foam base and is much
more flexible than natural stems.
short, bent wire what you use before drying can be lather straightened
and extended with a florist's wire (22 or 24 gauge) so the flower can
be used in arrangements.
the flowers you will be drying will have retained varying amounts of
while growing, it is impossible to come up with a, specific formula of
drying periods. Much depends, however, upon the type of flower you are
drying, the size of the bloom, how much moisture it contains, and other
a Styrofoam layer in the bottom of the container (before you pour the
of silica gel) is very handy for holding the wires of dried flowers,
if you have large container and more flowers in same container.
into an adequately large airtight container an inch (2,5 cm) of dry
gel on the bottom. If the container will hold six flowers with a 3-inch
space between each, place a teaspoon of silica gel where each of the
flowers will be placed to dry. These little mounds of silica gel will
the flowers so that they will not dry flat. Place one flower, face
over each mound. Using a tablespoon, spoon the silica gel against the
of the container, away from the flowers, so that it slides down the
of the container and under each petal of each flower without causing
weight on the flower. Continue pouring the gel against the container's
sides until the flowers are totally covered.
placing several flowers in the same container for drying at the same
be sure to separate them well, so that moisture does not seep from one
flower to another. When the flowers are completely covered with silica
gel, seal the airtight container with the lid and set it aside. Mark
date on the container to help you remember when to check for
dry flowers that have many petals, such as marigolds and roses, place
in the silica gel face up. The plant material must be completely
with the powder, but before you spoon on the powder, take a paint brush
and gently coat the inside petals with the silica gel so that no
area escapes. Using a tablespoon, spoon the silica gel against the side
of the container, so that it slides down the side of the container and
around each of the' flowers, bracing them so they do not fall over and
letting the crystals seep between each layer of petals. When flowers
completely covered with silica gel, place the airtight lid on the
mark the date on it, and set it aside.
drying several flowers in the same container, it is also a good idea to
make sure that they are the same type of flower, because on that way
will all be dry at the same time. But if, for instance, you don't have
a same-type of flower in the same drying container, they will not be
in the same period of time. The additional handling of the flowers
testing for dryness could cause breakage of the petals.
test flowers for dryness, simply run your finger through the silica gel
near the outer edge of the container, or even better use a utensil such
as Popsicle stick, where you are sure of not "bumping" the flowers, or
tilt the container.As the silica gel filters away from the flowers and
the petal tips are exposed, gently feel them. They should feel crisp
papery dry. If they are still soft, recover them and let them stand a
longer. When you are sure the flowers are dry, gently pour the silica
from the container until enough of the flowers are uncovered to allow
to pick them up by the stem.
you remove the dried plant material, make sure none of the powder is
to the petals. Using a dry, clean paint brush gently brush the powder
the petals back into the container.
store the dried flowers until you have enough of them to begin an
or project, place them face up in an airtight container of dry
sand. You can dry sand in your owen too, just use the same method like
for drying silica gel.
container with dry sand should have about 2 inches of sand in it, just
enough to cushion the flowers and hold them in an upright
reusing the silica gel, take time to heat it to make sure it is
dry. The warmed gel will also hasten the drying time of the flowers you
are about to work with.
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