Before you get started, you'll need to assess whether your flower bouquet will dry well. Blooms should not be fully mature or they will lose their petals in the flower drying process. Also, consider the type of flowers you are using. Air drying will work for more robust varieties such as roses or small, long-lasting varieties like lavender. For more delicate flowers like lilies, try another preservation technique, such as pressing. Gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums, roses, and tulips are great candidates for the microwave flower drying technique, a process that will preserve their color and structure better than air drying does.
How to Air Dry Flowers (using everyday household items)
1. Strip excess foliage from your flowers and cut the stems to your desired length (but not shorter than six inches). To help your flowers maintain their color during the drying process, it is important that you remove them from sunlight as soon as they're cut. Rubber band bunches of stems together if you would like to hang a bouquet, or leave the stems be if you'd like to hang the flowers individually.
2. Find a dark, dry area with good circulation. An unused closet will work perfectly. With unflavored dental floss, secure the bottom end of the flower’s stem to a hanger. You may hang two flowers/bunches on each hanger by hanging items from each side, or you can hang one flower/bunch by hanging it from the middle. Once secure, hang flowers upside down to dry. Leave your flowers there for a good two to three weeks and make sure not to remove them until they are completely dry.
3. Remove the flowers from the hangers and spray them with hairspray to give them some extra protection. You can now hang your dried flowers around the house as you please, remove the petals and make potpourri, or use them in a crafts-related project to make a thoughtful gift for someone else. Dried flowers don't like sunlight or extreme heat, so try to find homes for them in more shaded areas.
How to Dry Flowers with a Microwave (requires items found in craft stores)
1. Find a microwave-safe container that will hold your flowers and fit into the microwave. (Do not use a dish you might want to use for food again after this project.) Your flowers will dry to the shape of the bottom of your container if you do not support them, so you will need to use silica gel in the container to help the flowers maintain their shape. Cover the bottom of the container with about an inch or two of silica gel (more for larger blossoms), place your flowers in the gel with the flower blossom opening upward, and then gently pour gel over the flower to ensure all petals are positioned to dry properly. If you are not careful with the gel, you can flatten your petals. Still, be liberal with it for best results. Don't worry; your silica gel can be used over and over again.
2. Microwave temperature and time will vary from flower to flower, so find the right recipes by trial and error. Place your uncovered container in the microwave. A safe bet is to start the microwave on one or two levels above defrost for 2-5 minutes. Roses can withstand more heat; daisies prefer lower temperatures. Start with a short amount of time, checking your flower's progress periodically. If it doesn't seem to be drying, you can increase heat and time accordingly.
3. Once your flowers have dried, open the microwave and immediately cover the container. Remove the covered container from the microwave, open the top a quarter of a centimeter, and let it sit for 24 hours. Once the flowers have cooled, clean off the petals with a fine brush and mist them with an acrylic spray. Voila! Fresh baked flowers!