The practice of preserving flowers has been around since colonial times. Flowers can be preserved in different ways such as air drying and pressing or using various drying agents such as sand, homemade mixtures, or silica gel.
Some flowers such as baby's breath, globe amaranth, cattail, and strawflower can be dried by simply hanging the stems upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area.
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This method, known as air-drying or the "hang and dry" method is one of the oldest methods used for preserving flowers. The darkness helps retain the color of the flowers. However, it has been observed that blue and yellow flowers retain their color whereas pink flowers fade when dried using this method.
Some chemicals like glycerin are also used to preserve flowers. "Bells of Ireland" is one specimen that shows good color variation when preserved this way.
Pressing is another technique used for drying fresh flowers. Flowers are neatly straightened and kept between sheets of paper and pressed over by some weight.
This ensures that the pigments are not lost and the color is retained. Violets, pansies, larkspur, and ferns preserve well when pressed in this manner. These dried flowers can be arranged in framed displays.
Sand is also used as a drying agent to preserve flowers. With the sand drying method, prior to preserving flowers, the sand is washed thoroughly with dishwashing detergent. It is then dried. The sand used should be very fine and salt-free. In this method, sand is placed in a container, and a small amount is scooped out to form a depression.
The flower is placed in this depression and sand is pressed around to support the flower. Each petal is covered with sand ensuring that its shape is retained. The flowers when dried should be placed in cartons to prevent them from breaking.