Be it a bouquet from your special somebody, or indeed even a particularly striking flower from a bouquet you have acquired for yourself, the usual 7 days lifespan of cut flowers are sure to feel a little too short for admiring. The solution? Capture its beauty before it fades! No, I don't quite mean cameras and tripods (although you can find some great tips on photographing your bouquet in all its glorious beauty here)..I'm talking about drying them to their original forms even before the flower is in full bloom, so you would be able to hold onto the pretty flower souvenir piece for months to come either as an arrangement or used as a gift.
Complicated as that sounds, in fact there are few ways in which drying flowers can be done at home with relative ease - here are a few of them:
Air drying - This is perhaps the easiest of all - only an empty wardrobe or something similar that is warm, dry and out of the sun is required! Simply bundle up the flowers you wish to dry, preferably those with long stems with lower leaves stripped, and hang upside down from the clothing rod. After 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the progress, they should be thoroughly dried and can be preserved using hair spray.
Waxing - If you have access to some parafin wax, another easy way would be to just dip the flowers into wax and leave them to set in the fridge. Don't forget to shake off the excess beforehand though or else you might end up with a very messy fridge...
Sand drying - You can try this method on longer lasting flowers such as roses or tulips, although some flowers such as chrysanthemums and poppies are definitely not recommended for this method. This method should be used when the flowers are blooming in perfection. Use glue to secure the petals and wires to support the stems after cutting it short (depending on variety of flower). Use a box deep enough to hold sand that can keep the flower in upright position and take care not to destroy the shape of it. Again this method can take 1-3 weeks, but the results are often great, where the colours can be determined through how humid the storage condition is. Remember to remove the sand with care too or else all the efforts would be wasted!
Microwave drying - For a quick drying, and if the flowers are not fully blooming yet, you may wish to consider using the microwave and some silica gel. Tuilips and Chrysanthemums are two examples of cut flowers which can be dried successfully in this way. In a similar way to sand drying, cover the flowers in silica gel. Then, using the low settings on a microwave oven, heat flowers in silica gel till the gel reaches about 160 F, and after about 2-3 minutes it's done! Let it sit with an airy lid for a day or so before taking it out.
Have fun experimenting!