Flowers left on the rose plants have a reasonable life-span. However, a cut rose has a very brief life and even the period between the blooming periods is usually long. Nevertheless, we are lucky to have several ways by which we can preserve the cut roses for longer periods and enjoy their exquisite beauty. One way to preserve roses is to dry them for floral arrangements. Alternatively, you can also press roses for displaying them in picture frames or use their dried petals in aromatic potpourris. For all these, you just require some common ingredients and bare minimum tools and supplies. The outcome of your endeavours will not only look wonderful, but also have very pleasing aromas. Most importantly, they will also last for some years.
The roses you want to preserve can be collected anytime. However, it is preferable to pick the roses in the morning after the sun’s rays have dried up the dew. In fact, you can cut the roses and preserve them throughout the summer and, subsequently, use them all through the winter months to make gifts and home decorations. It is important that the flowers you want to dry and preserve ought to be perfect in all manners when you are cutting them from the plants. In case you are picking roses for potpourris or pressing, their freshness is an equally important aspect.
In addition to drying the roses, you can also dry the rose foliage to use them in attractive floral arrangements for displaying in your house. While you can dry several different varieties of roses, people generally prefer miniature roses for this purpose. Miniature roses are not only small, but also dry easily compared to the larger rose varieties. In addition, these roses also preserve their form and color for longer periods. Apart from the size of the roses, you should also take their color into consideration while selecting roses for drying. It has been found that several varieties of white roses become brown when they are dried, while several types of red roses become somewhat black. Then again, the petal tips of the orange roses turn darker and lose their original hue on drying. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt that the color of the rose you have selected for drying may change later, it is better to avoid that variety. Ideally, you can undertake an experiment with some roses from the same variety before drying them in large numbers.
It is worth mentioning here that silica gel is most effective for drying roses. This substance is crystalline and has a white hue, bearing resemblance to table sugar. Silica gel possesses the aptitude to soak up large amounts of moisture. This substance comes in small sealed packets and is marketed by companies that sell photo supply materials. Silica gel is used to protect camera equipment from dampness. You can also purchase larger quantities of silica gel from shops selling craft and flowers. In fact, a canister containing 1.5 pound of the material is sufficient to desiccate numerous small flowers at the same time. Besides, it is possible to reactivate silica gel and use it several times.
Several brands of silica gel are available in the market and many of them come with blue indicator crystals whose color changes to pink indicating that it is time for reactivating the substance. In order to reactivate used silica gel you simply require spreading the material in a low, oven-proof container and bake it at 250°F for about anything between 30 minutes and an hour till the color of the crystals turn blue again. Alternatively, you may also dry the used silica gel in a microwave oven for a couple of minutes. For drying, select the flowers that are most perfect that you can get and also ensure that they are dry and free from debris and insects. The stage of development of the flowers depends entirely on your preference. In fact, you can dry roses at any stage of their development – ranging from small buds to completely opened flowers along with a few leaves. Preferably, you should cut the roses along with 2-inch stems, as this will make it easier to arrange the dried flowers.
Having selected the flowers, get a wide container with a flat bottom and an air-tight cover – something like an imported cookie tin. Subsequently, spread a thin layer (about an inch) of silica gel at the base. Place the roses you have selected over the silica gel layer in a manner that the flowers are facing up. If necessary, you may cut the stems, as it will prevent the flowers from bending over. Ensure that the flowers do not touch each other. You can dry the foliage on the stem itself. However, possibilities are there that the stems will break afterwards.
It is always better to dry the foliage separately and not alongside the flowers. Lay the stems flat beside the flowers on the silica gel. Ensure that you cover both the flowers and foliage with additional silica get in a way that the substance fill in the roses. Subsequently, seal the container and keep it air-tight for about a week. Roses of same size will dry more consistently when placed in silica gel together. If you plan to dry other flower varieties like marigolds, zinnias and/ or asters, which you wish to use with the roses in your floral arrangement, it is advisable that you dry these flowers individually and not with roses or other flowers. This is important because the time required to dry a different types of flower is usually different.
When the roses as well as their leaves become completely dry, they have the texture of a paper. When touched, they will have a crispy feeling, something like a thin paper. Therefore, you need to be careful while removing them from the container. If you find that some silica gel is still sticking to the dried flowers, blow them away gently. Similarly, if there are any crystals, you need to dust them away gently using an feather duster or an artist’s brush.
Following a few tricks may help in obtaining better as well as enduring results. As the sepals start drying, they curl up and in case you remove them prior to soaking the roses in silica gel, you will find that the results are more pleasing. When a rose has dried completely, you can put in a floral wire through its base and then wrap the wire around the stem of the flower. This will help to make the stem stronger and, at the same time, help you while arranging the dried flowers. On the other hand, if you want the stem to remain with the flower, you should insert the wire from the stem’s base prior to drying the flower. This is important because the stem will be prone to breaking once it becomes dry. In order to keep the petals of a dried rose intact, it is advisable that you apply some drops of any white glue at the base of the external petals of the flower, thereby preventing them from falling off. Dried roses are not only brittle, but at times they also reabsorb moisture and become somewhat damp. In order to prevent this from happening, you should preferably spray the flowers with any clear plastic or immerse them in warm, thawed paraffin. This will provide the dried roses with a wax-like coating.
Although it may seem incredible to some, it is also possible to desiccate roses in any microwave oven. Provided you dry the roses in a tin, their resultant color as well as shape will be better compared to drying them in any other way. However, it is advisable that you should only dry one rose at one time, as it will help to prevent crowding of the flowers and also not dry them excessively. When drying roses, ensure that you heat and dry the silica gel first at a higher setting for roughly one minute. Once this is done, prepare the cut roses in the method described above. Preferably, you should use an open microwave container.
Alternatively, you can also dry roses in white cornmeal blended with borax or in a mixture of sand and borax. However, it will take double the time to dry the roses as the silica gel and even the outcome may not be all that acceptable. This is mainly because the silica gel has a tendency to form cakes on the flowers and the latter may also develop burn blemishes. Therefore, you should follow the steps that you would be for drying silica gel. However, there is one difference, in this case you need to position the roses face down instead of face up and also keep the lid of the container open. All said and done, silica gel is much more superior. In fact, air drying of roses is never satisfactory.
You can blend roses with several other varieties of dry flowers, including marigolds, asters, yarrow, baby’s breath and zinnias. In addition, they can also be combined with foliages of various types. You can also make garlands and wreathes with dried roses. A floral arrangement made with dried roses will usually last for several years, subject to the humidity of the room where they are kept. When the arrangement collects dust, use an artist’s brush or a feather duster to brush off the dust. In case the climatic condition in your area is very humid, you need to use a glass bell jar to protect the dried rose arrangements.