Drying flowers can be a great pastime and the results can be used for many different crafts that can all be a lot of fun. The only down sides to drying in the traditional method is that hanging flowers upside down is space consuming. You have to have a good place. One that is well ventilated and not going to get moist. If you want to do a lot of drying then you will find that you will quickly run out of space. Additionally drying time takes weeks, sometimes as long as six weeks. This makes it hard to do the projects you want to do when you want to do them. There is an alternative. You can dry flowers quickly and easily in the microwave!
Gather your flowers. You will need to gather your flowers in mid morning after the dew has dried off, but before the sun gets high. You should choose fresh flowers that are in their peak. They shouldn't be starting to wither or wilt and they shouldn't be bruised. Carefully cut them and place them in a container, box, or basket to carry them into the house.
Heat your silica gel beads. Silica gel is easily available at most craft stores. If you don't have a craft store near you that sells it you can ask at the florist or visit Amazon. Silica gel can be reused again and again. Fill a microwavable glass or plastic bowl (that is large enough for your flowers and that you won't be using for food again) with silica gel. Heat for 3 minutes to remove moisture. Let cool for five to ten minutes. Pour into a baggie or bowl.
Cut the stems of your flowers. Carefully cut the stems of your flowers down to 3/4"-1" long.
Fill container with first layer of gel. Fill your microwave safe container with about 1" of gel.
Place flowers in gel. Carefully stick the flowers with their short stems in the silica gel so that they are facing upwards. Don't let two flowers touch as you do this. It is best to place like flowers together and not mix flower types. This will make it easier because all of your flowers will get done about the same time.
Fill with silica gel. Carefully pour silica gel in around the flowers. You will want to even get it between the petals and in the center of the flower. Cover it so that all the petals are well covered. There should be a layer of 1/2"-1" gel on top.
Begin microwaving. You will want to carefully microwave your flowers. Begin by running it for 45 seconds. Check your flowers by carefully digging a small hole into the dish above the flower (I use a pencil). If the flowers are dry then you are done. If not then you will want to place it back in the microwave for another 20 seconds and continue the process till they are dried. This could take as long as five minutes for very moist and fleshy flowers. Some flowers, such as those containing a lot of water, moisture, or wax don't dry well. You can try it, but it might turn out mushy, brown, and even gross.
It is a good idea to keep a note book if you will be drying a lot of flowers. Each microwave is different and therefore recipes need to be tailored for the specific microwave. You can figure out how long it takes your microwave to dry the flowers you normally dry and write it down for fast reference. This makes the process a lot easier because you can then set the microwave for the time that you know it takes and then remove the flowers to cool.
Cool your flowers. Wait at least twenty minutes before removing the flowers from the silica gel. It is even better if you can leave them overnight to cool really well.
Clean and prepare the flowers for use. Use a soft bristled brush such as a small makeup brush or a paint brush (don't use your make up brush and then use it on your skin!) to carefully brush the silica gel off of the flowers.
Once the flowers are clean you can spray them with hair spray to help them hold their shape. However, a better option is a flower preserver or acrylic spray for really long lasting flowers. These can last as long as two years!
If you want, use these flowers in vases or jars as dried flower arrangements. Carefully use florist tape to tape the short flower stem to florist wire. You can then add silk leaves if you wish or dry real ones and tape them to the wire. You can also trim the stem further and glue them on to wreaths or other craft projects. Remember that they won't last forever!
Dried flowers can add a lot of beauty to your house, home, and crafts. It doesn't take a ton of work and can be a lot of fun. Plus you can dry tons of flowers using this method! Now you just have to start getting creative!