Today I went out to cut flowers to press and dry. It is best to do this in the late morning, after the dew has dried (Dew? In Colorado? Maybe not!) and before the heat of the day stresses the flowers. However, I don’t ever seem to get out there for my cutting till 1 or 2 p.m. – probably the worst time of day. Oh, well. I do it when I think of it.
The best flowers for pressing & drying are ones that have a more flat profile, such as impatiens, perennial geraniums, pansies, etc. Coneflowers are one of the worst, as their center ‘cones’ are so thick that it is difficult to press them without destroying them. Individual rays (petals) would work fine though. Flowers or leaves that are fleshy don’t work too well, either, as they take too much time to dry. But experiment! You can dry flowers, leaves, grass seedheads, or anything that appeals to you!
Cut only a few at a time before laying them out to press, so they don’t wilt too much and become hard to flatten properly. Lay them on sheets of acid-free, somewhat absorbent paper – but NOT paper towels. I use watercolor paper (another of my hobbies, for another post), with heavy cardboard between each pair of watercolor sheets, and then weigh down the whole thing with bricks, jugs of liquids, etc. I used to go the old phone book route, with the flowers pressed between sheets of waxed paper, but hey, I decided to get fancy! Besides – who has those big, fat phone books any longer?
You can also buy a flower press online, for about $20, but when I saw how it was made I figured the cardboard, watercolor paper, and bricks would do the trick. Using good paper allows the moisture to leave the flowers quickly, before the colors fade. My prior method, with the waxed paper, was ok, but many of the lighter colored flowers turned somewhat brown during the slower drying process. Above is a photo of my ‘high-tech’ flower press.
Two weeks should be long enough to let the flowers dry, but it is ok to wait longer. After all, they aren’t going anywhere. This will give you something to do in those long winter months, besides browsing through all the seed catalogs! I’ll let you know in another post what to do with all those dried flowers.