Dried flowers, plants, and seed pods are a stylish way to bring texture and charm to a room. These everlasting beauties have dusted off their old-fashioned reputation and made a trendy comeback as low-maintenance, environmentally-conscious décor accents for your home. The best part is that it’s oh-so-easy to dry your botanical beauties at home. The goal is to completely remove the moisture from the flower, which can be done in a number of ways. The easiest drying process is air-drying. Other options include dehydration and preservation by using borax, cornmeal, sand, alum, and silica gel. Dried flowers can be very delicate, but if looked after properly (kept dust and pest free), they can last for years. Let’s look at some of the best flowers to dry.
Proteas are one of the best flowers to dry as they maintain their colour well and don’t crumble easily. They have great sculptural qualities that give them a striking appearance. The drying process is very simple but will take at least two to three weeks (occasionally longer depending on the drying conditions). Harvest the protea stems when the blooms are in their prime. They dry well when you just pop them into an empty, dry vase. Alternatively, you can hang individual stems upside down in a well-ventilated, dry space.
Banksia, Repens, and Barbigera (pictured above) are a few popular varieties to dry.
Hydrangeas have beautifully large blooms that look stunning when they’re dried. Flowers should be allowed to mature on the shrub before being harvested for drying. This will encourage antique pinks and whites to appear as the petals dry. Alternatively, drying hydrangeas in a vase with water is said to help preserve their natural colour. Simply pop them into a vase as you would with fresh-cut flowers (taking care to avoid overcrowding). Allow the water to evaporate naturally (about two to three weeks). To preserve the bright colour of the fresh flowers, cut them and dry them in silica gel.
Hydrangeas look gorgeous simply dropped into a vase or when used as a focal point in larger arrangements.
3. Cotton plant
Soft and fluffy cotton stalks (Gossypium hirsutumare) are one of the best flowers to dry as they have a long shelf life to begin with. Once dried, the leaves may break off, but the cotton lasts just as a cotton wool ball would. To harvest, cut the stalk to the desired length. Air-dry stalks upside down for about a week. Once dry, remove the broken branches and dry leaves and clean up cotton balls (you can glue the pieces that fall off). Keep your dried cotton stems away from water and humidity to keep them looking their best.
Cotton stalks complement almost any colour scheme and can be displayed in a variety of ways.
Brunia’s tiny flowers are snugly crowded into stunning spherical inflorescences, giving this tall, slender plant its sea-like appearance. Their architectural form is spectacular. Brunia looks great in a vase by itself or as a beautiful grey-toned accent to create beautiful floral arrangements. They’re also a great choice for tiny displays such as boutonnieres and hairpins. Drying brunia is incredibly simple. Cut the stem and strip off the tiny needle-like leaves. Pop them into an empty vase to complete the drying process (two to three weeks).
Brunia are spectacular, sought after cut flowers.
Craspedia, commonly known as billy balls or drumsticks, are cheerful, quirky yellow flowers characterised by their bright, round flower heads. They create a delightful focal point in dried arrangements or placed sparsely in tall vases. Craspedia is one of the best flowers to dry because their colour lasts for up to a year even when exposed to direct light. To dry them, tie bunches together and hang them upside down in a warm, dry, dark room for two to four weeks.
Craspedia’s dried flowers provide amazing texture and visual intrigue.
Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is sometimes referred to as bitter buttons or golden buttons. Characterised by their clusters of yellow button-like flowers and feathery, fern-like leaves, tansy is one of the best flowers to dry as an everlasting. They maintain their shape and colour well once dried, and the drying process is so simple! All you have to do is leave them in a vase for about two weeks (or until completely dry).
The tansy plant has an aroma similar to a mixture of camphor and rosemary.
7. Baby’s Breath
Baby’s breath (Gypsophila) is one of those classic flowers found in all types of beautiful arrangements. They make excellent fillers—a few delicate sprays of baby’s breath will give your floral display a finished look. They can also be used to create a soft, stand-alone, cloud-like bouquet. Harvest baby’s breath after the morning dew has dried and the buds have begun to open. Tie bunches together with a rubber band (long stems are easier to work with) and hang them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. Allow them to dry for a couple of weeks. Dried baby’s breath can be enjoyed for up to two years, or longer if cared for properly.
Baby’s breath has dainty sprigs of tiny white flowers that work well in fresh and dried arrangements alike.
Without a doubt, lavender is well-known as being one of the best flowers to dry. Dried lavender can be used in floral arrangements, potpourri, cooking, aromatherapy, and so much more.
Harvest lavender stems on a cool, dry day after the morning dew has evaporated. Choose stems that have buds that are still opening (stems with fully open buds have a higher risk of falling apart when dried). Hang them upside down in a cool, airy place for about seven to ten days, depending on humidity. You can also dry lavender by arranging loose stems in a container. Keep your dried lavender out of direct sunlight, as this will cause the colour to fade.
Most dried lavender will keep its scent for up to a year, but if they are looked after properly, their scent can last even longer.
Heather (Calluna vulgaris) is easy to work with, making them one of the best flowers to dry. This low maintenance shrub has little pink flowers that keep their colour well once dried. Hang heather stems upside down in a dry, dark space. The flowers will take two to three weeks to completely dry.
Keep dried heather away from sunlight, as this will cause their sweet little pink flowers to fade.
10. Globe Amaranth
Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa) is the perfect little everlasting flower. ‘Amaranthus’ literally means “does not fade,” making them one of the best flowers to dry. These vibrant bobble-like flower clusters hold their shape well and won’t crumble for years! To harvest the flowers for drying, cut the stems just as the flowers open. You can either place them in a bucket, allowing them to drape naturally or hang small bunches to air dry, allowing the stems to dry straight. Globe amaranth should dry in about 2 weeks if placed in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place.
Globe amaranth comes in a variety of colours from white to orange to purple.
Due to its volume, statice (Limonium sinuatum) is a popular filler flower in both fresh and dried arrangements. Statice has lovely branched combs that are full of colourful calyces that have a tiny white bloom in the middle. The papery calyces are what remain after the drying process. They are one of the best flowers to dry because they come in a wide range of colours, and they keep their colour well throughout the drying process. It is best to harvest the stems on a cool day when the blooms are fully mature (there is a chance they’ll wilt if harvested too early).
A bunch of everlasting statice can make a vibrant and eye-catching arrangement.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a lovely little disc shaped flower that comes in a variety of colours that often dry to dustier shades. They are one of the best flowers to dry because of their everlasting blooms and herbal fragrance. Hang stems of yarrow upside down in bunches for about two to three weeks to air dry.
Harvest yarrow at the height of flowering.
Strawflowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum) are iconic papery petaled beauties! They are able to retain their bright colour and shape during the drying process, making them one of the best flowers to dry for arrangements and floral crafts. Strawflowers should be harvested when only two to three layers of petals have opened. Remove all the leaves and tie stems together loosely with a rubber band.Hang the bunches upside down in a dry, dark spot with good air circulation. These beautiful colorful flowers usually take two to three weeks to completely dry.
Strawflowers will continue to open throughout the drying process.
Dried cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) are one of the best flowers to dry as their petals keep their colour well once dried. The best time to cut cornflower stems is just before the buds open as the blooms continue opening after being harvested. When you harvest mature cornflowers there is a greater chance of the petals falling off naturally. The flowers are delicate, so handle with care when bundling the stems and hanging up to dry. Hang small bundles in an airy, dry, dark place for about two weeks.
These dried petals can be used as confetti, or garnish (cornflower is edible).
Heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides), also known as false sunflowers, get their common name for their long-stemmed golden flowers. They make excellent cut flowers or may be used in dried arrangements. Hang your cut stems upside down for about two to three weeks.
You could also let the heliopsis flowers dry on the plant and pick it when the seed heads are completely dry.
Dahlias are available in a variety of shapes and sizes with gorgeous, multi-layered blooms. The smaller blooms do better with the drying process than the larger ones. One of the best ways to dry dahlias is to place them on absorbent material like paper towels and allow them to air dry for a few days. You can hang them upside-down, but many recommend you continue drying them in the sun in an airtight container until the petals are crisp and dry. Your air dried dahlias won’t retain their vibrant colour, but try preserving them in silica or glycerin if this is the look you’re hoping for.
If you begin the drying process with a healthy dahlia flower, blossoms can be dried successfully.
Roses are traditionally known as the best flowers to dry. Their colour and scent lasts for a long time. Rose petals, rosebuds, and individual roses all have a diverse range of uses. Fresh, healthy blooms will provide you with the greatest dried roses, thus the drying process should start before the rose begins to wilt. To get the stem ready for drying, strip the leaves and thorns from the rose stem. Hang your roses upside down for about two to three weeks. Take care as dried roses are brittle and easily breakable. If you are looking to retain the roses colour, opt for glycerine preservation.
Dried flower bouquets are a favourite with contemporary brides.
Amaranthus caudatus is best known for its long, drooping, red or gold tassel-like blooms. These flower tails look stunning when dried, drooping over the sides of vases creating an interesting visual. Harvest the flowers leaving a long stem. Remove the leaves and hand individually to avoid losing the natural shape. Hang upside down to achieve a straight stem, or to dry with a curvature, lay the flowers over a curved piece of cardboard. The flowers should be dry in two to three weeks.
Bleached Love-Lies-Bleeding dried with a natural curvature.
19. Sea Holly Flowers
Eryngium plants, also known as sea holly flowers, are among the best flowers to dry. Their thistle-like, brilliant blue flowers have a beautiful architectural form adding texture and a bit of drama to fresh and dried floral arrangements. To harvest, cut the entire stem when the flower head and bracts turn silvery blue. Eryngium can be air dried, or placed in silica gel to better preserve their colour. The blooms are heavy, so it’s recommended that when air drying, you hang them upside down individually for two to three wells for the best results.
Despite their appearance, most types of sea holly are soft to the touch.
20. Globe Thistle
Dried globe thistle (Echinops bannaticus) has perfectly round, spiky thistle pods that dry to a beautiful shade of pale blue. Echinops typically have robust stems which makes them one of the best flowers to dry, but you’ll need to wear gloves to protect yourself from these prickly pom-poms. Harvest the thistle after the morning dew evaporates. Choose buds that haven’t completely opened as the blooms will continue to open after they’ve been cut. Tie the stems together and air dry them, upside down, in a dark, dry area (usually two to three weeks).
Dried globe thistles are the perfect finishing touch to your dried arrangements.
For those seeking a modern aesthetic, structural seed heads and grasses offer something different.
21. Poppy Seed Heads
While poppy flowers make wonderful specimens to press, dried poppy seed heads are fantastic to style arrangements with. You’ll know your seed pods are ready to harvest when they begin to harden and turn brown. Another way to check they’re ready is to shake them, you can hear the seeds rattling around in the pod. Once you harvest your poppy seed pods, hang them in small bunches to finish drying. They should be completely dry in about two weeks.
Poppy seed heads make an eye-catching exhibit when displayed on their own or as part of a mixed fresh or dried bouquet.
22. Scabiosa Seed Pods
Scabiosa flowers, such as Scabiosa stellata, dry quite quickly and keep their colour for a long time. However, scabiosa seed pods, sometimes called starflowers, steal the show in dried floral arrangements! They make wonderful displays when grouped together, and make a great addition to dried floral arrangements and bouquets. Harvest when seed heads are light green with dark edges. Air dry by hanging in a warm, well-ventilated place.
This exquisitely textured pod is composed of many tiny circles that come together to form an eye-catching sphere.
Lunaria annua (also commonly known as honesty or silver dollar plant) have captivating papery seed pods that resemble iridescent leaves. Harvest lunaria when their seed pods have turned golden brown but before they drop any seed. Cut their stems off at the base and hang upside-down in a dry, well-ventilated room. The drying process usually takes two to four weeks.
Lunaria looks stunning grouped in a vase with a bit of light shining through.
24. Lotus Seed Pods
Lotus seed pods are as prized as beautiful lotus flowers. These woody seed pods are circular in shape, often with the lotus flower seed still intact. They make a striking statement in any dried flower arrangement or simply placed alone for an interesting display. Drying lotus pods isn’t that different from drying any flower, but timing is key. Pick lotus pods when they are mature but still green. Waiting longer will result in bent stems. Hang the lotus pods upside-down in a cool dry area with good ventilation. The drying process can take some time, you’ll know they’re dry when the stem is stiff and the seed pod is hard and brown.
Lotus pod seeds remain viable for generations.
25. Nigella Seed Pods
Both the flowers and the decorative green and burgundy seed pods can be used in fresh or dried floral arrangements. To dry the seed pods, harvest when the stripes are still visible and hang the pods upside down in a dry, dark, airy place for two to four weeks, or until completely dry.
Bleached Nigella Orientalis has a contemporary clean look.
26. Okra Seed Pods
Okra is the seed pod of Abelmoschus esculentus. It’s sometimes called lady’s fingers due to its slender, tubelike shape. They provide interest in any dried flower arrangement or simply placed alone for an interesting display. Harvest seed pods when they have matured.
Okra seed pods in a dried floral arrangement.
Dried artichokes are sculptural beauties! Their size and texture allows them to be displayed on their own, say, clustered in a bowl, or as part of a more complex arrangement. As with proteas, artichokes are dried individually hung upside down in a warm, dry environment with ample air circulation.
The artichokes should dry out within 7 to 10 days.
Allium is a genus of flowering plants that includes hundreds of species, including onions, garlic, leeks, and chives. Some, in particular, would make particularly stunning dried allium heads. When you’re ready, gather the flowers and remove any ancillary foliage. Group bundles of two or three stems. The alliums should be fully dry in three to six weeks, depending on the moisture and humidity levels in your home. The room should be cool, dark, and feature good ventilation.
Every variety of allium looks distinctly different, Allium giganteum is assured to stand tall.
The common sunshine conebush (Leucadendron salignum) tolerates the drying process well. They keep their shape and even retain some colour for a time. Their colourful bracts are a great final touch to dried floral bouquets and arrangements. Their detailed beehive-like cones (found inside the bracts) are also harvested and are often referred to as Platyspermum in the flower industry. To dry Leucadendron, either stand them upright in a vase or hang them upside down for about three weeks, or until completely dry.
The conebush usually dries with some colour, but may fade to a tan colour with time.
30. Ornamental Grasses
Ornamental grasses are magnificent dried specimens. They can be dried in tall vases, or hung to air dry. Harvest grasses in autumn on a dry day, after the seeds have dropped. Bunny tails (Lagurus ovatus), pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) and northern sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) are the best grasses to dry.
Bunny tail grass (Lagurus ovatus) actually looks like soft bunny tails.