How To Dry Fresh Flowers, According to ‘Full Bloom’ Winner Conner Nesbit

Photo: Stocksy / MaaHoo Studio
Having fresh-cut flowers on display makes your home instantly feel more welcoming and lively. But, fast forward 10 days and you likely have a sad (possibly moldy) bouquet that brings you down every time you look at it. Instead of letting flowers wilt to the point of no return, you can dry them out, suggests Conner Nesbit, owner of Leuca Floral and winner of season one of HBO's Full Bloom.

"Flowers take on a different personality after they dry, and they almost become a whole new type of flower," he says. "Right now, the summer flowers dry the best and they're so abundant. I have a local flower farmer that's just been bringing me extras weekly because he knows I'll dry them out; I'll make wreaths with them in the fall."

In particular, Nesbit loves drying out roses and ranunculus. "There's lots of echinacea out right now, the pods on those actually dry phenomenally, and you can press the flowers a little bit," he says. "Cosmos dry really well. There's yarrow, even summer hydrangeas can dry extremely well." As you’re picking your flowers, he recommends avoiding water-logged blooms like tulips, orchids, and peonies. "They tend to rot rather than dry," he says.

Experts In This Article

Aside from extending the lives of your bouquets, playing with flowers can have a great impact on your mood and mental health, explains Aimee Daramus, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist. "It’s a way of calming your body, thoughts, or emotions by shifting attention away from them to something more pleasant," she previously told Well+Good. "Flower arranging is a full sensory experience that can fill your mind and leave less room for anxiety."

If you can, Nesbit encourages you to source your flowers from local farmers. By doing so, “you're going to get really beautiful things," he says. Below, you'll find his tips for how to dry fresh flowers.

How to dry fresh flowers

1. Choose your flowers

Sometimes, Nesbit will buy a bouquet with the intention of immediately drying it out. Other times, he'll pull stems out of arrangements as they begin to age beyond their prime.

"You don't want to leave anything that's starting to mold or die in the vase," he says. "But sometimes the flowers still might be pretty and, for me, that's an excellent candidate. You can pull that out and set that aside."

2. Prep your stems

Wipe off the stems to make sure there's no excess moisture.

3. Choose a dark spot

"When you're drying your flowers, try to keep them away from the sunlight," says Nesbit. "That just fades the colors—they're going to fade just by drying them out already, but the sunlight really will leach a lot of that vibrancy from them even more."

4. Set them out to dry

"If I can get a big, beautiful bunch straight from the flower farmer or even just straight from the grocery store, and I know I'm going to dry that," says Nesbit," I'll usually just tie a ribbon or a string on that, and then hang it upside down in a really dark room."

But, if he's using flowers from past arrangements that are already a little bit wilted, Nesbit places them on a flat, breathable surface.  "I'll position the petals I want the way that I want it to look, and then I'll just leave it there for about a week, two weeks, and let that just naturally dry on the board," he says. "It does give it a flat back, you lose a little bit of dimension that way, but it's still a great way to preserve blooms that you can't do the hanging method with."

Any flat surface can work. Nesbit uses a concrete paneling board leftover from an old home renovation. "I think the concrete maybe works well because it wicks moisture," he says. "But I've also done where you can string up a really thin layer of chicken wire ($14) and then just rest your flowers on that chicken wire and let them dry out on that too, where [the wire] is maybe suspended just an inch above [a flat surface]."

5. Preserve your blooms

Nesbit says to put them somewhere you know they won't be brushed up against because they'll be brittle. To take preservation a step further, you have the option to apply a protectant like Krylon Ultra UV Floral Protectant ($15) to your dried flowers. "It's just a thin coating that you can spray on that'll help hold petals together and just prevent things from falling apart," he says.

6. Display your flowers

Whether you want to display your dried flowers in a vase or make them into a wreath ($13), Nesbit says they're a great way to keep color in your home year-round. Other options? "People are going back to the shadow boxes ($27),” Nesbit shares. “I've been playing around with little cloches ($38), so little glass domes of dried flowers and stuff," he says.

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