Dried Flowers: How to Preserve Leaves, Stems and Berries

A little extra time and care can give your flowers a longer lease of life. Ideally, you should take precautionary measures before giving the flowers their long drink but, if this is not possible, make sure you do so before arranging them.

Preserving Leaves

Any leaves growing down stems which will be below water level should be stripped off. They take up space in the container or vase, and also make the water discoloured and smelly. This is true of most garden flowers, particularly Brassicas (the Cabbage family), Wallflowers and Stocks.

Hard woody stems Plants like Lilac, Roses, Chrysanthemums and most flowering shrubs have hard woody stems. These should be hammered or split about half an inch up the stem.

Stems which bleed

English: Flowers, stems, and leaves of Kerria ...

Preparing flowers for drying

The stems of flowers such as Poppies, Dahlias and Euphorbia (Spurge) which bleed or exude a white juice, benefit from being put for 10 to 30 seconds into two inches of boiling water. This treatment disperses the juice and helps them to drink. Protect the flower heads from the steam by wrapping them in a dishcloth. And if the stem ends look unhappy after this treatment do not worry and, above all, do not trim them off.

Sticky stems

Daffodils, Narcissi, and similar flowers exude a sticky substance. Hold the stem ends under warm running water to remove this, as it makes it difficult for them to drink.

Water

Always arrange flowers in tepid water. If you put a small piece of charcoal in the bottom of the container, the water will remain pure. Most flowers, with the exception of those such as Daffodils and Narcissi which exude a sticky substance, will last longer if you add sugar to the water (two teaspoons to one pint). Few flowers have a definite preference for a particular depth of water, but it is worth remembering those that do. Hellebore, for example, last better if they are arranged in deep water or floated in a bowl; Daffodils and Narcissi can last a very long time in a little water as long as they do not go dry; and Holly is best if it is not in water – leave it dry or arrange it in a plastic foam.

 

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