Dried flower business: How to dry them

24th Apr, 2020
Dried flower business: How to dry them
A worker at Maridadi flower farm dumps mature roses that were ready for export. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The flower industry has been greatly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

This is as the number of reported cases in Kenya stands at 336 as of Friday.

Flower farm workers have been sent home and some are now staring at job losses.

With flight cancellations and the industry collapse, farmers have now opted to disposing of flowers worth millions of shillings and some workers losing their jobs.

However, farmers have an option of drying flowers to preserve their beauty and sentimental value.

Dried flower business venture is something new in the market. Farmers can venture into this business to preserve their flowers during this period in which Covid-19 has wreaked havoc.

These flowers can be sold in craft stores to help finish decorating craft projects and also to some hobbyists who use dried flowers to decorate their books.

This can be great hope to farmers whose crops have been going into waste.

Here are a few ways to dry flowers;

Air drying

This process works best for bouquets and robust flowers such as roses, or small and long-lasting varieties such as lavender.

  • Strip excess foliage from flowers and cut stems to the desired length six inches minimum.
  • Remove them from sunlight after cutting them to ensure they retain their colour.
  • Hang flowers individually or rubber-band stems together to hang a bouquet.
  • Find a dark, dry area with good circulation, such as unused closet with unflavored dental floss.
  • Secure the bottom of the flowers’ stems to a hanger so that they hang upside down to dry for two to three weeks.
  • After they have completely dried, remove flowers from hangers and spray with unscented hairspray for protection.

Microwave Drying

You will require silica gel to preserve the shape of the flowers.

The daisies, chrysanthemums, roses, and tulips are great for the microwave flower drying technique, which preserves their colour and structure better than air drying does.

  • Find a container that will hold your flowers and fit into the microwave.
  • Cover the bottom of the container with an inch or two of silica gel, a bit more for larger blossoms.
  • Place flowers blossom-up in the gel and then pour more gel over the petals.
  • Pour gently so that petals don’t get flattened.
  • Place the uncovered container in the microwave.
  • Microwave temperature and time will vary according to the type of flower. Roses can withstand more heat, while daisies prefer lower temperatures.
  • Check your flower’s progress after a short time and then periodically.
  • Increase heat and time as needed.
  • Once flowers are dry, open the microwave and immediately cover the container.
  • Remove the covered container from the microwave, open the top a quarter centimetre for 24 hours.
  • Clean the gel from the petals with a fine brush and then mist with an acrylic spray.

Pressing flowers

Pressing flowers is done best with delicate, small, flat flowers, such as pansies, lilies and lilacs. Stay away from flowers with fleshy stems or extra-thin petals, which can end up damaged.

  • Place your flowers on a dry paper such as a cupboard, newspaper or a tissue paper.
  • Ensure you arrange them on a single layer and place another sheet of dry paper on top.
  • Place the flowers between each dry paper starting with tissue paper, newspaper and cupboard for better results.
  • Place them under dictionaries, encyclopedias, heavy boxes or pieces of wood to provide an evenly dispersed weight when pressing the flowers.
  • Keep the stack in a warm, dry place.
  • After one week, replace the paper sheets with other fresh dry papers and leave the flowers to continue with the pressing process.
  • After three to four weeks remove the weights, papers and pull out your flowers. They should be paper-thin and transparent to light.

Keep them in cool areas away from the window as dried flowers fade quickly if exposed to sunlight and extreme heat. Fully mature blooms will likely lose their petals in the drying process, so don’t wait too long to begin drying your flowers.

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