Florist Favourite: Top 10 Flowers to Dry | 8 min read
For lovers of dried floral creations, the availability of choice in dried flower ingredients is immense. You name the flower, and someone somewhere has found a way to dry or preserve it. Given the popularity of dried flowers today, florists and craft enthusiasts alike can acquire ready-to-use dried flowers from industry suppliers with relative ease; however, I feel there is endless creativity and inspiration to be found in drying flowers yourself.
If you value originality, then creating one-of-a-kind ingredients is one way to set your designs apart.
To follow, I have condensed a list of my Top 10 Favourite Flowers to Dry. It was surprisingly difficult to narrow down my selections, but my list includes both single stem and spray flowers that I regularly dry myself and utilise in my designs from vase arrangements to wreaths.
Remember that moisture and direct sunlight are the enemies of dried flowers.
I recommend assessing the conditions in which you intend to keep your product. In Perth, where I live, we typically have dry hot summers and cool winters. Moisture in the form of humidity or damp is thankfully not too much of an issue; however, the extreme heat can cause dried flowers to be more brittle and prone to breakage. I suggest keeping a watchful eye on the changing conditions where your dried product resides – it will save you time and potential heartache. For the flowers in the following list, I have very few problems drying and storing for long periods. They include some classic dried flower ingredients as well as some uncommonly used blooms.
1. Strawflower | Helichrysum bracteatum
It’s a florist’s regular go-to for a reason. Strawflower retains its shape, size, and colour as it dries, making it ideal for dried floral design. Florist tip: depending on what stage you dry your strawflower; any fully open flower heads may eventually fall apart when dried. This is the flower’s natural process of returning to seed, so trim these heads as required. Also, placement of strawflower stems in arrangements can require some finesse as the temperamental thin stems can buckle under the weight of the flower heads, causing them to droop.
2. Bougainvillea | Bougainvillea buttiana
Known to be notoriously fickle as a fresh cut flower, bougainvillea transforms as it dries. I like to use bougainvillea in designs in the same way you might use preserved hydrangea – it adds a big splash of colour and, depending on the stem, has beautiful directional movement. Florist tip: remove all the leaves from your bougainvillea prior to hang drying upside down.
3. Flannel Flower | Actinotus helianthi
This delicate little flower is worth the expense to dry. Flannel flower is an Australian native that provides the most divine soft texture and dancerly movement. Florist tip: usually available around late Spring, flannel flower can be air-dried either upright or hung upside down.
4. Leucadendron | Leucadendron salignum
One of my favourite flowers that rounds out the supporting cast, leucadendron contributes to the contrast in shape, colour, and texture in design. There are so many varieties of leucadendron that provide endless inspiration for dried floral creations.
5. Statice | Limonium sinnuatum
When it comes to dried flowers, statice falls into the ‘oldie, but a goodie’ category. If you need texture, to fill a gap, or to create the staging for a design, chances are that statice will do the trick. Plus given the variety of colours available, statice is often a key ingredient in any dried creation.
6. Pincushion | Leucospermum cordifolium
One of my favourite discoveries in the drying process, pincushions are delightful dried. They add colour and texture and become a serious note of intrigue in any design. Florist tip: as opposed to bunching, hang dry pincushion stems separately to retain their full shape.
7. Larkspur | Consolida ajacis
Elongated flowers add a beautiful directional line to designs, but they can be difficult to dry. Any degree of humidity can be impactful on elongated stems. Larkspur maintains its romantic, whimsical feel as it dries; however, I have found that it is more resilient to warm conditions than say delphinium. Florist tip: as larkspur has several flowers along the length of the stem, you have multiple design options. Use a single stem in an arrangement or trim a stem into smaller flower portions and use low in wreath designs or flower crowns.
8. Sunflower | Helianthus annus
There is no denying a fresh sunflower with its generous size and glorious colour; however, a dried sunflower is not to be overlooked as a focal point in design. Florist tip: sunflowers can be dried upright or hung upside down. Direction will determine the final position of petals.
9. Dahlia | Dahlia hortensis
I perceive dahlias and sunflowers in much the same way. As fresh blooms, both are dominant, attention-seeking forms; contrastingly, as dried blooms, their subtlety makes them far more compelling. Florist tip: I have experimented drying dahlias both upright and upside down. I generally find dahlias with a more significant centre dry better than the pom pom varieties.
10. Amaranthus | Amaranthus caudatus
The red variety is commonly known as love-lies-bleeding, which I have always thought to be the most visceral poetic name for a flower. Amaranthus adds dramatic line, texture, and colour to dried floral designs. I mostly use dried amaranthus in wall hangings to create the overall structure and shape of a design with its ability to drape and hang in space.
To limit myself to just ten favourites was no simple task. I omitted Banksias and large-form Proteas because, given their plentiful varieties, they honestly require a list unto themselves. Overall, I was struck by the fact that there are so many flowers at our disposal well-suited to drying. Mindful of sustainability in my floristry practices, I will attempt drying almost anything. As a result, I have had some valuable discoveries and, in so doing, extended the life of product that otherwise was destined for disposal. When it comes to drying flowers, at least, age-old truths apply; creativity is only limited by the extent of one’s imagination as well as one’s willingness to try.
I hope I have provided some inspiration for your future dried flower creations. What are your favourite dried blooms? Let me know below.