Preserve Flowers Using Silica Gel

Dried Flowers using Silica Gel

Who doesn’t love fresh flowers?  What if you could extend their life and enjoy them for a longer period of time… Well it dawned on me earlier this summer I could be drying some of the garden flowers using silica gel.  Have you tried this before?  It’s very easy and something I did when working in floral shops.  That was a long time ago…

The first step is to begin with a good foundation of flowers like, zinnias, roses, hydrangeas, larkspur and the list goes on, seek hardy flowers. My favorite drying flower would be the rose because I’m fascinated how the color change.  What’s your favorite?

I’ve added a mix of things in this tutorial and hope it will inspire you to give drying flowers with silica gel a whirl.

Silica Gel Crystals and Glad Plastic Containers

Where to purchase Silica Gel

Silica gel can be purchased online or at any craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels.  I noticed that shopping online offered larger packages which was nice.   I didn’t plan this project that far ahead and decided to shop local where I found a couple smaller packages that worked perfectly with these plastic glad containers.

Don’t you just love glad? Inexpensive and you can use them repeatedly for what seems like forever.

Silica Gel Drying Process

How to Begin the Drying Process

The drying process is very simple because the gel crystals work as a guide through the entire process.  I’m going to break this down into steps so this is easy to implement.

  1. New Crystals will have blue pieces mixed in, fill the mixture about 1/4 from the bottom of the glad container.
  2. Lay fresh flowers on top, I used zinnias, rose buds, and a few herbs.
  3. Gently cover the flowers with the rest of the gel until all you see is crystals.
  4. Cover with a lid and let sit for about a week.

Once the crystals turn pink or almost lavender the flowers have dried.  The crystals remove the moisture from the flower so they dry without losing their beautiful appearance.  Isn’t that neat?

For faster results repeat this same process using the microwave, this speeds things up but the colors won’t be as vibrant and you have to wait for the crystals to cool before removing the flowers.  This takes about 30 to 45 minutes and microwaving is around 2- 3 minutes.

Crystals can be reused indefinitely by zapping them in the microwave to retain to their shade of blue.  Store in a plastic container or their original packaging and place in a craft cupboard or later.

Silica Gel Zinnias

Beautiful Silica Gel Dried Zinnias

Once the flowers are dry gently remove from the crystals and use tweezers to discard additional crystals.  These flowers are delicate to the touch but sturdy enough to use in a fun craft project like a wreath or centerpiece.

The zinnia on the left is fresh and the opposite is dried, I wanted you to see the difference and notice the bright color is perfection.

Preserving flowers using silica gel is a fun way to enjoy flowers after the blooming seasons ends.  Hope you enjoyed this technique and next week I’ll be sharing what I made with these zinnias in the Fall seasonal challenge.  See you then!

How to Preserve Flowers using Silica Gel

 

 

6 comments

  1. Patti says:

    Everything that was old is new again. I remember doing this when I was young with my mother and I’m sure that the products are even better today. Thanks for the great reminder. I’m going to pick up some silica gel and give it another try.

    1. Carole says:

      Yes the old does seem to be new again thought this idea might be a little dated but I was curious if you could actually dry zinnias successfully. The colors are better if you don’t use te microwave, enjoy!

  2. Karen says:

    I remember doing this years ago when I made wreaths. One “tip” I learned from experience was to wear gloves if drying a lot of flowers. The silica beads tend to dry hands too. 🙂
    Zinnias are one of my favorites and I love how easily they lend themselves to drying, making them a treat all year long.
    Thanks for the sweet reminder. Seems almost like yesterday, but I shudder to consider just how many years it has actually been!

    1. Carole says:

      Yes I want to say it was back in the 90’s when I originally learned this technique. I like it better than air drying because the flowers end up with some wonderful bright colors. I didn’t really handle the silica gel that much, just poured the excess out as I removed the flowers. Would be neat to try this with some fall leafs.

  3. Sally Andrews says:

    I have beautiful hydrangeas I would love to try at their peak of color. But what kind of container would I use and I guess I’d need lots of silica gel

    1. Carole says:

      If you break up the stems you wouldn’t need as much silica gel, unless you’re doing a lot. I used glad plastic containers because they also work in the microwave. I preferred the process by letting the flowers sit in the container for a week. The color was better, however using the microwave does speed things up for same day results.

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