The 23 Best Flowers for Drying: Beautiful, Long-lasting Decor
Want to make your garden flowers last well beyond their season? Simply bundle them together and hang them up to dry to preserve their beauty for months or even years. Gardening expert Madison Moulton lists 23 flowers perfect for drying at home.
There is something so special about decorating a home with cut flowers, especially when they come straight from the garden. Unfortunately, their beauty doesn’t last very long, even with the several hacks that may make your cut flowers last longer.
If this bothers you as much as it does me, I have the perfect answer for you – dried flowers. Dried floral arrangements are not only popular and simple to make, but they can also last for years with the right care, rather than weeks or days when using fresh flowers.
Whether you want to curate a long-lasting arrangement once-off or grow a dedicated dried flower garden, these are the flowers to look out for.
Hydrangeas are beloved garden plants known for their delicate clusters of flowers, gracing gardens throughout summer and into fall. When dried, they maintain this delicate look, allowing you to enjoy the flowers indoors as temperatures drop.
The most important part of hydrangea drying is cutting at the right time. The flower stalks should be trimmed towards the end of the season as they begin to change color and the petals become thinner. If you cut too early, it will take them much longer to dry out, but if you cut too late, they won’t retain their color.
After trimming, the best way to help the heads retain their shape is to dry them in water. Although this sounds counterproductive, the water allows the blooms to dry out slowly over time, retaining their color and structure. Once the water evaporates, leave them in the vase until completely dried.
Popular among cut flower farmers, statice is a great filler for floral arrangements. These flowers look stunning when fresh or dried, holding their shape well and lasting for months.
The best time to cut your statice for drying is when the white inner blooms start to open. These are the true flowers, while the colored outer tissue is the flower’s calyx. If you cut too late when the calyx loses color, your dried blooms will likely turn brown.
Strip the leaves off the stems and bunch them together, hanging upside down in a dry area. Keep the bunches away from direct sun while drying to avoid browning. The flowers also retain their color well when pressed.
While hydrangea and statice are primarily used for their ornamental value, dried lavender has an almost endless list of uses around the home. From potpourri to homemade beauty products, drying lavender is useful and makes for a great annual garden activity.
If you want the flowers to remain intact – usually for arrangements – trim when the blooms at the bottom have started to open. This will keep as many flowers on the stalk as possible after drying while helping retain color.
For those who miss the window, you can still trim after all the flowers are opened. These blooms are best for use around your home for their calming scent. Hang them in a dry room for just under two weeks before processing.
Spherical globe thistle flowers stand out in the garden and look just as good when brought indoors. One of the few blooms with a blue-purple hue, the flowers become a delicate pastel blue after drying, making stunning décor for any room.
It’s best to harvest just before the blooms open for the best possible color. You can wait until the flowers fade, too, if you’re more interested in shape and texture, but don’t allow them to go to seed, or the heads will start to break down.
With their soft blue color, dried globe thistle has a wintery look ideal for holiday arrangements. Keep them in a cool area away from direct sun after drying to avoid early disintegration.
The fluffy texture and unique shapes of celosia flowers are equally stunning when dried as they are out in the garden. Like globe thistles, they are used often in holiday arrangements and look best when grouped in large bunches. In other words, don’t be shy when harvesting.
To help the clusters retain their strong forms, you’ll need to cut when the flowers are just maturing. Aim to cut plume types when about half the flowers are opened. Cockscomb varieties need to be cut before the flowers start to brown lower down.
However, don’t wait too long, as flowers that go to seed will start to drop off the stems after drying. Varieties with denser heads will need more space when drying to limit the chances of mold growth.
Roses are traditional garden staples world renowned for their elegance and beauty, but this beauty quickly fades as the petals drop when cut for the vase. Dried roses are an excellent way to extend their shelf-life or use the petals around your home.
Aim to cut when the buds have just opened fully as you would when trimming for cut flowers, revealing a few layers but before the petals begin to drop. A premature cut will lead to roses that don’t dry uniformly due to excess moisture, while delaying means the petals will slowly fall off the bud as they dry.
The best way to dry roses is to hang them upside down in a dark and dry space. Avoid unnecessary movement and traffic to help the blooms retain their shape and stop the petals from crumpling. Though subtle compared to their fresh counterparts, dried roses have a scent, making them ideal for potpourri mixes and sachets.
Yarrow is largely known for its pollinator-attracting abilities or even its medicinal properties. However, the strong and upright structure of the flowers also ensures this plant shines in dried arrangements.
Harvest the stems when the majority of the tiny flowers have unfurled but before they begin to fade. This will help retain as much color in the heads as possible. Be sure to leave a few flowers on the plant for your local pollinators to enjoy.
Like other blooms, it’s best to hang bunches upside down in a location free from direct sunlight and with good air circulation. This keeps the flower heads full and the stems straight for easy additions to dried arrangements. Within a few weeks, the stems will be ready for display or use in things like teas or tinctures.
Derived from the Greek word for ‘unfading,’ amaranth is, by definition, an ideal dried flower. The genus’s name hints at the flower’s ability to retain color and form, even when dried. They look stunning in fall arrangements, especially varieties with warm and autumnal tones.
The stalks should be cut just as the flowers reach their full length but before the seeds begin to shed. This timing is vital for both shape and color. Flower stalks that are cut too soon will likely lose their shape. Cutting at the right time also helps maintain the dense flower structure with minimal loss of color.
As the flowers dry, they’ll contract slightly as they lose moisture, but this won’t take away from their stately cascading appearance. Adequate airflow is essential when hanging to prevent any problems with fungal growth. Also, keep them out of the sun to stop the stalks from becoming too brittle.
A quintessential filler in bouquets, baby’s breath is a must-have in any cut flower garden. You will recognize the delicate fresh blooms in many wedding bouquets or flower crowns. Dried, they have an ethereal look that perfectly matches both modern and rustic interiors.
Trim off clusters of flowers when they have fully opened but before they begin to yellow. You want the clusters to look full, and unopened flowers can cause the dried stalks to look spindly. For pristine color, it’s better to cut sooner rather than later.
Hanging upside down will help the stalks keep their shape without falling over as moisture dissipates. This makes for strong stalks that can hold their own when added to dried arrangements. The drying process is relatively quick, given their thin petals and tiny blooms.
With a common name like golden everlasting, it’s easy to see why Xerochrysum bracteatum is incredibly popular among dried flower enthusiasts. Despite their delicate papery petals, the daisy-like blooms respond well to drying and maintain their captivating color and texture for months when dried correctly.
The stems can be trimmed when the blooms are partially opened but before the center of the flower becomes visible. They will struggle to open if they are cut too early. Also, strip the lower leaves to speed up the drying process and improve airflow.
Dried strawflowers are versatile and useful in more than indoor bouquets. They’re great additions to dried wreaths or, my personal favorite – flower crowns. Alternatively, you can enjoy them in a simple vase to allow their color to shine.
Astilbe looks quite similar to plume-type celosias; luckily, they dry just as well. The flowers retain their delicate look and fluffy appearance, albeit stiffer than their fresh counterparts. Paring well with dried grasses like fountain grass and other foliage, they create natural bouquets fitting for any Pinterest board.
Just as they’ve fully bloomed, but before they begin to brown at the tips, remove the flower stalks with some of the foliage attached. While you can strip the leaves off, you can also keep them on to frame the blooms for individual bouquets.
The flowers will become more muted in color as they are dried, along with a size reduction. If you want a more rustic look, leave them on the plant a little longer before trimming to reach that vintage beige hue.
When you first look at floss flowers, you may not assume these soft and delicate blooms stand up to drying. But with the right technique, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Although the flower heads become slightly smaller and more closely packed, they still have interesting texture and beautiful color when dried. Depending on your needs, they make ideal fillers in dried bouquets or feature plants in smaller vases.
Harvest often throughout the season when the flowers are mature. Cut before they start to change color or fade to help them retain their strong shape. Dry slowly by hanging the flowers, keeping them stiff but preventing them from becoming brittle and hard to handle.
Although they share the same plant family, globe amaranth differs slightly from members of the Amaranthus genus discussed earlier. The scientific name is Gomphrena globosa, with the specific epithet perfectly describing the spherical flowers of this species.
These flowers bring a pop of color that remains in both its fresh and dried form. Because of this long-lasting nature, the blooms are often used in floral garlands or leis in Hawaii. They look just as good in indoor arrangements, and since the blooms are edible, they can also be used in teas or to decorate desserts.
For optimal drying results, harvest just before the blooms fully develop to keep the characteristic spherical shape. It’s best to dry these flowers slowly rather than using quick methods like ovens to retain as much even color as possible.
Another flower that retains incredible color after drying is the larkspur. The wide range of colors available makes the flowers versatile and useful for many bouquet styles. I like to pair the tall stalks with softer grasses to cascade out the vase, but they look just as good independently.
To create interesting forms in bouquets, it’s best to trim the stalks before all the flowers open. Aim to keep a couple of flowers at the top closed to draw the eye upwards and maintain interest. Also, ensure you cut a good length of stem with the flowers, as they can tip out of a container if the stems are too short.
While a few stalks have a beautiful and delicate look, dried larkspurs make the most impact when they are grouped together in larger numbers. Dry them in smaller bunches to prevent mold, grouping them together later for a long-term display.
Queen Anne’s Lace
Queen Anne’s lace is a wildflower often found along countryside roads across the US. The plant is also known as the wild carrot, originally hailing from Europe. Although it is considered invasive in some regions, those outside the invasive zone can consider growing these plants for dried flowers.
What makes Queen Anne’s lace stand apart from other dried flowers is the umbrella-like shape and clusters of tiny flowers. This appearance and their color are why they are compared to lace fabric and make an interesting addition to bouquets.
When dried, the flowers have a traditional or antique charm that matches their common name. Wait until the flower clusters are opened and fully spread out to make the most of their unique look.
Poppies have incredibly delicate petals as thin as a sheet of paper. That’s what most gardeners love about them. While this may not lend itself to drying similarly to the previous examples, there are two routes you can try with these plants – pressing or drying the seed pods.
If you want to keep the flowers intact, pressing is your answer. Select blooms free of blemishes and at their peak for the prettiest look. Carefully place them between two sheets of parchment paper within the pages of a large book or use a specialized flower press. Once pressed, these blooms can be used in artwork or incorporated into personalized gifts, with their color and beauty preserved.
Seed pods are a better option for those who want to use them in arrangements. When dried, the pods add wonderful texture and form to bouquets. To dry these seed pods, cut them from the plant once they’ve matured but before they crack open. Hang, and they’ll have dried to a rich, earthy hue within a few weeks.
Sea holly also features thistle-like blooms with an extra spiky texture that responds well to drying. The metallic blue undertones also remain after drying correctly, although they will be slightly more muted than they were when cutting.
Cut fully developed and opened flowers to take advantage of their unique shape. You won’t have problems cutting mature flowers that are on their way out, but for the best color, trim them before they show any signs of browning.
Drying in a dark room will strengthen the blue color, or you can leave them somewhere brighter for a softer hue. Keep them out of direct sunlight if you want the stems to stay strong. After several weeks, the blooms will have dried to a delicate silver-blue shade, ready to be displayed or used in arrangements.
Ornamental alliums have become popular in recent years, no longer just considered the onion’s blooming cousin. The spherical flower heads create a visual feast in the garden, composed of countless tiny flowers in a stunning purple or white hue.
While these flowers are enjoyed in the garden throughout the season, it’s when they go to seed that they are most useful in dried arrangements. The heads retain their shape, turning a golden beige or brown that works well with cut grasses.
You can also press or dry smaller flowers soon after opening to retain their color. But for larger alliums, wait to cut later in the flower’s life cycle. After drying, handle carefully to ensure the heads keep their delicate and structural look.
Seen dotted around wildflower gardens, the cornflower boasts striking colors, with blue cultivars a particular favorite among home gardeners. When dried, the starry blooms transition into more muted shades of their fresh selves but are no less beautiful.
Although cornflowers can be used in dried arrangements for a pop of color, that’s not what they are most often used for. The dried petals are edible and used to make teas or to garnish dishes with gorgeous blue sprinkles.
To dry cornflowers, spread them out on a flat surface in a cool area, ensuring they don’t overlap. This prevents the petals from sticking together. You can also dry them in the oven (although this will affect color) or use a dehydrator.
Gardeners in warmer zones may have experienced growing the gorgeous conebush, a large shrub often planted for its warm and colorful foliage. These plants produce inflorescence that look quite large thanks to the surrounding bracts but are really made up of many tiny blooms.
Leucadendrons are popular in floral arrangements for their upright and structural nature. They retain this look when dried, maintaining the hues in their leaves for an additional pop of color (depending on variety). While it’s best to strip any leaves lower down the stem to improve airflow, keep some on to fill out the stems better.
Like hydrangeas, I find the best way to dry these flower stalks is by leaving them in a water-filled vase. This ensures the leaves and flowers stay strong and upright, slowly drying over time rather than all at once.
The intricate protea is one of the best flowers for dried arrangements. I may be biased, considering I dry a new batch every month or so to use around my home. But their longevity and beauty when dried are undeniable. I’ve had many of my protea stalks last over a year now, and they still look just as good as the day I dried them.
The medium-sized flowers are generally easier to work with than larger species (such as the king protea). Their weight can cause them to topple over, even when dried, so you’ll need a deep vase to keep them steady. They look stunning as a centerpiece, paired with other dry foliage like eucalyptus.
These flowers are easy to dry in a vase full of shallow water, kept out of the path of direct sun. Allow for plenty of space between blooms to improve airflow and prevent mold growth.
The button-like golden blooms on tansy plants are a sunny addition to any garden. But you can also bring the sunny flowers indoors to add a touch of summer to your home in the gloomy winter months.
The blooms should be picked when fully opened to make the most of the bright yellow hue. Cut longer stalks for easy hanging and strip the bottom leaves off. They should dry within three weeks when hung in the right conditions.
While drying, the flowers will slowly transform into a mustardy yellow, giving them a retro feel. This makes them ideal for pairing with classic houseplants like Boston ferns or African violets to complete the 1970s look.
In various cultures, dried marigolds hold symbolic value and are often used in ceremonial and festive occasions. Beyond their cultural importance, they also serve as wonderful additions to dried floral arrangements.
Classic orange marigolds hold their color well after drying, but you don’t have to limit yourself to this color. Unique cultivars like ‘Phyllis’ and ‘Kilimanjaro White’ look stunning in arrangements, particularly the latter that pairs well with other white dried blooms like baby’s breath.
For use in vases, hang the flowers upside down as you would other plants. If you want to use individual blooms in wreaths or other crafts, you can dry the heads flat on a tray without the stalks to reduce drying time.
Crafty gardeners, interior design enthusiasts, and cut flower lovers can all benefit from drying flowers from the garden at home.