A round-up of the best preserved flowers and dried stems for fall or any time of year + how to dry flowers and leaves yourself.
Somehow my ritual of drying bunches of hydrangeas every fall sends me down the rabbit hole of obsession over ALL of the gorgeous dried flowers and stems out there.
Okay, not obsession. I’m obsessed with my kids and my husband, but I really REALLY am loving the dried flower look. There are so many beautiful ones out there, but if you feel like foraging your yard, I’ll share some tips to explain how to dry flowers yourself too.
Why Preserved Flowers Are “In”
The thing is I don’t really consider preserved flowers and dried leave in home decor as a trend. It’s not one of those things that really goes out of style or even out of season.
But dried botanicals is definitely “in” right now.
It gives you the natural beauty of real foliage without the short lifespan of fresh flowers, plus they’re more eco-friendly than artificial and are often much cheaper than buying fresh.
You can even dry and preserve flowers yourself, if you have a great selection of varieties in your own backyard.
Where to Find the Best Preserved Flowers and Dried Stems
In case you don’t have much greenery to forage in your yard though, here are a bunch (har har) of my favorite preserved flowers and dried stems with amazing review and for all budgets.
(Affiliate links are provided below. Full disclosure here.)
I brought some dried flowers into our dining room to slightly shift away from summer, but even though they’re sort of “fall”, they really work mostly year-round and add a little life during the cold winter days.
How to Dry Flowers and Leaves From Your Yard
A couple times a year, I take a few minutes to forage our yard to dry flowers and preserve leaves to use as home decor in dried flower arrangements.
We have a huge magnolia tree that works beautifully all year for pretty wreaths and garlands using magnolia leaves. And lavender cut from planters and air dried makes the house smell amazing. Yay for free greenery!
Finding the Right Flowers and Leaves to Dry
- Only choose flowers and leaves without bruises or spots that haven’t turned brown
- Choose flowers with paper-thin petals; fleshy, moist petals don’t dry out as easily
- Pick fresh flowers just before full bloom
- Pick flowers later in the day after the morning dew has dissipated
The Easiest Way to Dry Flowers
There are several different ways you can dry flowers and leaves to use in floral arrangements, but I’ve found this to be the easiest method.
Simply let them dry naturally. It’s not a fast method, but it’s a no-brainer method you don’t have to babysit.
- Wrap a rubber band around a bundle of stems (around 5-8). Tie up the bundle with a piece of string leaving 6-12″ of length.
- Hang the bundle upside-down in a dark space with no humidity. A closet works well for this.
- Wait about 2-3 weeks until all water evaporates from leaves and petals.
(Some flowers do just fine by sitting in a vase without water to dry while standing upright. Hydrangeas are the easiest flower to air dry in a vase because of their woody stalks.)
Best Air Dry Flowers and Leaves to Use
- Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila)
- Magnolia leaves
Pressing Leaves and Flowers to Dry
This is my favorite drying method for displaying leaves and flowers in picture frames and shadow boxes.
- Place leaves and/or flowers between pages in a heavy book or in a flower press separated by parchment or wax paper (coffee filters work well too).
- Store the book or flower press in a cool, dry place with weights on top and wait a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on how much water content the leaves and flowers had initially. (You can check on them periodically without disrupting the drying process.)
How to Preserve Flowers and Leaves
Once leaves and flowers are dry and/or pressed, you can preserve them with a quick spritz of aerosol hairspray. I especially love doing this to preserve hydrangeas.
Remember the AquaNet of the ’80s? That stuff is the jam!
- After air drying or pressing, protect the work area with newspaper or a piece of cardboard where you’ll be spraying.
- Hold an extra strong can of aerosol hairspray 6-8 inches away from the flowers/leaves and spritz all around and in between petals.
- Let the leaves and flowers dry for about 10 minutes. Reapply and repeat dry time twice.
Dipping flowers in silica gel works well too if you want a hairspray alternative.
That’s it! Your dried flowers and leaves will officially be preserved to avoid withering and discoloration so you can use them for many seasons.
Ideas to Decorate With Dried Leaves and Flowers
Frequently Asked Questions
When kept out of direct sunlight and humid conditions, dry floral shelf life can last between 2-3 years on average.
It’s really important to make sure flowers are completely dried before using them as decor. Some flowers that are fleshy like lilies and tulips can be especially challenging to dry and are susceptible to mold because they hold more moisture.
Dried flowers cost more than fresh flowers because it is a lengthy, tedious process to dry and preserve fresh flowers. That’s why it is the perfect craft to DIY. Still because dried flowers last so much longer than fresh flowers, they pay for themselves over time.
You don’t have to do much to care for dried flowers over time. To dust them, gently spray dried flowers with a few light puffs of canned air. For thicker leaves like magnolia and palm leaves, you can lightly brush them with a feather duster.
Have you attempted the flower drying thing?
Or stopped on the side of the road when you see pretty pampas grass or wildflowers? I won’t tell 😉