Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Plan ahead. Harvest everlastings now for use later. You’ll find many uses for these versatile flowers.
This article is intended to be a general introduction to everlastings. Future articles will provide more details on the different methods, and the kinds of plants that are suitable for each. Another article will consist of a list of everlastings.
The simplest way to dry flowers is to hang them upside down in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place where they’ll be out of direct sunlight. People often use barns and sheds for this. Not all flowers are suited to air-drying. Check a book on everlastings for complete details.
Dry your own roses for everlasting designs. Bunch them together into bunches, and use a rubber band to hold the stems together. Hang them up to dry.
Flowering herbs can be dried the same way for use as everlastings. Suitable ones include anise hyssop, bee balm, chives, lady’s mantle, lavender, oregano, and yarrow.
When you hear the word everlasting, you may automatically think of flowers. Yet, many kinds of materials can be used in dried arrangements.
For a start, look through your garden to see if you have any plants with suitable green, gray, or silver foliage. Examples would include various herbs, such as artemisias (wormwood), horehound, and mints.
Dried red peppers are often used as ornaments. These are usually strung together on string. They can be hung indoors or outdoors. A favorite place is beside doorways.
Ideally, you’ve been harvesting stems throughout the growing season that can be used for everlastings. Start in the spring, and continue through the fall months. Harvest more than you think you’ll need of each kind, because some of them may shatter. (To prevent the blooms from shattering, you can use the special spray that is made to prevent this from happening)
In addition to garden plants, wildflowers and other suitable natural materials can be prepared as everlastings. Examples include staghorn sumac, mullein, milkweed pods, and teasel.
To dry flowers, pick them when they are blooming, but before the blooms are completely open. The best time to do this is early in the morning on dry days after the dew has dried off. Don’t wait too late in the day, because the sun is too strong then, and it can cause blooms to fade.
The next step is to strip the foliage from the stems. This speeds up the drying process.
Everlastings can also be dried by various other means using materials, such as silica gel, or sand. They can even be dried in the microwave. To simplify things and save space—not to mention expensive materials like silica gel, some people remove most of the stem. This also speeds up the drying process.
Commercially, roses and rose petals are freeze-dried, but this isn’t a method that is practical for the average person.
I read about a Thai company that was oven-drying orchids. If kept in glass containers, the dried orchid last for three to five years.