Drying flowers is a popular way to preserve their beauty, and there are many different methods to choose from. One increasingly popular option is to use a dehydrator.
A dehydrator is an appliance that removes moisture from food or other substances using heat. The most common type uses warm air circulated by a fan to remove the water content from the material being dried.
This type of dehydrator generally has multiple shelves on which the material to be dried can be placed, allowing for even drying.
Dehydrators can be used for a variety of purposes, such as drying fruits and vegetables, herbs, meat, fish, and flowers. The process of dehydration helps to preserve food by removing the water content that bacteria need in order to grow.
Dehydration also concentrates the flavors of the food being dried, making it more intense. And finally, dehydration decreases the weight and volume of the food, making it easier to store and transport.
Drying flowers in a dehydrator allows you to process a large batch all at once – even more flowers than can be crammed into a conventional oven. But, even though dehydrating flowers is a lot quicker than hanging them, the process will still take many hours longer than preserving them in an oven.
Here are some tips on how to use a dehydrator to dry your flowers – as well as a quick look at the other methods of drying your flowers as well.
There are many benefits to drying flowers in a dehydrator as opposed to another method, such as air-drying or using silica gel.
First, dehydrators evenly dry flowers from all sides simultaneously, so there’s no need to rotate them during the drying process.
Second, dehydrators dry flowers quickly and efficiently without damaging them. And third, since dehydrators circulate air around the flowers while they’re drying, there’s no risk of mold or mildew developing on the flowers while they’re being dried.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to dry flowers that will preserve their beauty and integrity, then using a dehydrator is definitely the way to go!
There are many different types of flowers that you can dehydrate, but some work better than others. Roses, for example, are one of the best flowers to dehydrate because they hold up well and retain their color. Other good options include carnations and calendula.
Some of my favorite flowers to dehydrate include:
- Marigold flowers
- Baby’s breath
Larger flowers are best for drying, as are those in full bloom – you’ll get the largest flowers possible.
With the exception of baby’s breath, you’ll note that many of these are “tougher” flowers too – more delicate flowers may not hold up as well in the dehydrator, so just be aware of that and consider air drying if you’re worried about damaging the bunches.
Dehydrating flowers is a great way to preserve their beauty and color. But in order to get the best results, you need to start with fresh, properly-cut flowers.
Start with a sharp knife or pruning shears. This will make it easier to get clean, straight cuts on your flowers. If your knife is dull, your cuts will be jagged and uneven.
Cut the stem at an angle. This will help the flower absorb more water and stay fresher for longer.
Trim off any leaves that will be below the water line in your vase or container. Leaves that are left on will rot and cause your flower arrangement to deteriorate more quickly.
Place your flowers immediately in a vase or container of water mixed with a floral preservative. This will help them stay fresh while you’re getting ready to dehydrate them.
Dehydrating flowers takes about 8 to 10 hours. I typically keep a batch of freshly picked wildflowers in the dehydrator overnight, especially when drying large or dense varieties.
It is best to wait until the flowers have fully bloomed to dehydrate them, especially if they will be used for crafting instead of their wild edible or natural healing properties. The flower heads will lay far flatter, and dry more evenly once the petals are outstretched fully.
Flower Dehydrating Tips with a Food Dehydrator
If you are dehydrating flowers for arts and crafts and want to preserve a flower bud or partially unopened flower for aesthetic reasons, that is entirely doable in a typical residential dehydrator.
Here are some general tips…
Give Yourself Enough Time
Expect flower buds to take about 12 hours to completely dry out, perhaps a bit longer or shorter depending upon how large and thick the bud actually is when placed inside the machine.
Work in Small Batches
For even drying it is best to only do batches of flowers, either by density or dimension. Always place the flowers (or petals, leaves, and stems) onto the dehydrator trays with enough space between them to facilitate adequate airflow.
Place the Densest Flowers on the Top of the Tray
Always place the most dense flowers on the top of the tray (closest to the machine fan) because they will take the longest to dry.
Rotate the Trays
I always rotate my trays a couple of times when dehydrating anything so the contents of each tray gets a turn on the top portion of the machine.
Reverse the steps if the fan is in the bottom portion of your dehydrating machine.
Use Mesh Inserts
If you are dehydrating small flower heads or primarily petals and leaves, use the mesh inserts designed to fit your machine to place them upon.
Because flowers (and anything else you dehydrate) will shrink in dimension as the moisture is pulled from them, items that start small to begin with can fall through the uncovered trays onto the catchment basin at the bottom of the dehydrator.
Don’t have a mesh insert? That’s ok! You can also use some wax or parchment paper if that’s easier.
Is Air-Drying Flowers Possible?
While this article focuses mostly on the best flowers to dehydrate in a food dehydrator (as well as some best practices for doing so), you can also air dry flowers, if that’s easier.
The first step is to choose the flowers you want to dry. Almost any flower can be air-dried, but some do better than others.
Thick, fleshy petals like those found on roses hold up well during the drying process, while delicate petals like those of lilies can be more difficult to preserve. Consider mixing different types of flowers together for a beautiful and diverse dried arrangement!
You’ll need a vase or container, some clean water, and fresh flowers. You can use a simple drinking glass, mason jar, or even an empty soda bottle–get creative!
Using sharp scissors or gardening shears, cut the stems of your chosen flowers at an angle so they can more easily absorb water. Try to make all of the stems roughly the same length so your arrangement will look uniform.
Fill your vase or container with enough clean water to completely submerge the stem of each flower. Be sure to use distilled water if your tap water is high in minerals, as this can shorten the lifespan of your arrangement.
Arrange your flowers in the vase or container however you like. You may need to experiment with different arrangements before you find one that you’re happy with–and that’s okay! The key is to have fun and be creative.
Find a cool, dry place in your home where there’s good airflow, and hang your arrangement upside down from a clothes hanger or similar object.
Make sure the blooms are not touching one another so they can dry evenly all around. Allow your flowers to dry for 1-2 weeks until they’re crispy and papery-feeling all over.
You can also dry your flowers in the oven if you don’t want to use the air dry method or a dehydrator. To do this, place your bundles of flowers (or single flowers, if you prefer) on a cookie sheet.
Put in the oven at a low temperature – ideally around 200 degrees – and dry your flowers in a single layer.
It won’t take quite as long as air drying or drying in a food dehydrator but you do need to babysit the flowers to make sure they don’t cook.
Dehydrating Flowers in Dehydrator
- Cut the flower heads from the stems as evenly as possible so they will lay flat on the dehydrator trays or mesh inserts. If preserving just the petals, snip or carefully pluck them from the flower head with scissors – leaves can be removed in the same manner. Stems or roots can be preserved whole (increasing drying time), sliced down the middle or chunked. It will take stems and roots about 12 hours to dry.
- Place the mesh inserts into the tray, if using them.
- Spread the flower parts onto the trays leaving space in between them – do not layer. Flower petals do not require as much spacing as whole flower heads.
- Place the lid onto your dehydrator machine.
- Choose the lowest heat setting or the one designated for herbs, and start the machine.
- Rotate the trays about every two hours – optional but highly recommended.
Store the dehydrated flowers in airtight Mason jars, freezer bags, or vacuum-sealed bags.
When stored in this type of container and in a cool, dry place, the flowers dried in the dehydrator should remain viable for use for at least 12 months – but in my personal experience, for about 5 years.
I recommend storing in small containers because the more the dried flowers are exposed to air and moisture, the less likely they are to maintain their preserved state and be viable for use – especially in wildflower recipes and home remedies.
Can you dry rose petals in a dehydrator?
Drying rose petals is a great way to preserve their delicate beauty. The best way to dry rose petals is in a dehydrator. This process preserves the color, shape, and aroma of the rose petals, making them ideal for use in potpourris and sachets.
To dry rose petals in a dehydrator, simply place them on the dehydrator trays and set the temperature to between 125 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Depending on the size and thickness of the rose petals, they should be dried within 24 to 36 hours. Once dried, Rose petals can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
To dry flowers with powder, start by selecting a flower that is not too delicate and cutting the stem at an angle. Next, mix together equal parts cornstarch and talcum powder and use a small brush to coat the flower. Finally, gently shake off any excess powder and allow the flower to air dry for 24-48 hours.
While this method takes a bit longer than other drying methods, it is perfect for flowers that are difficult to preserve. The powder helps to absorb moisture from the petals and prevents them from wrinkling or fading, resulting in a beautiful dried flower that will last for months.
The average lifespan of a silica-dried flower is between one and three years. To extend the life of your flowers, it is important to store them in a cool, dark place.
Exposure to sunlight or heat can cause the flowers to fade and lose their shape. In addition, it is important to keep the flowers away from moisture. Silica-dried flowers are incredibly fragile, and even a small amount of moisture can cause them to crumble.
With a few simple supplies, you can dry flowers in minutes using one of two quick-drying methods.
The first option is to use a microwave. Start by placing your flowers on a paper towel and then putting them in the microwave. Set the timer for 30 seconds and then check on your flowers.
If they’re not completely dry, repeat the process in 10-second increments until they’re done. Just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook and become brittle.
The second option is to use silica gel. Start by covering the bottom of a container with silica gel and then placing your flowers on top. Make sure the flowers are completely submerged in the gel, then put the lid on the container and wait 24 hours.
Once the time is up, remove the flowers from the gel and allow them to air dry for a few hours. And that’s it – you’ll have beautifully preserved flowers that are ready to enjoy!
While most people simply buy pre-made bouquets, more creative types may want to try their hand at flattening dried flowers. The process is fairly simple and only requires a few supplies. First, the flowers need to be completely dry. If they are not, they will not flatten correctly.
Next, choose a heavy book that will fit the flowers snugly between its pages. Place the flowers inside and close the book, making sure that there is no gap between the pages. Finally, leave the book overnight so that the flowers have time to flatten completely.
Tara lives on a 56 acres farm in the Appalachian Mountains, where she faces homesteading and farming challenges every single day, raising chickens, goats, horses, and tons of vegetables. She’s an expert in all sorts of homesteading skills such as hide tanning, doll making, tree tapping, and many more.