Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Drying Sunflowers for Decoration

After Madeline asked, "Do you know if there is a way to dry sunflowers? Or do you think they would get faded?", I set off on a quest to find the best answers for her.

I have dried herbs many times in the past as well as roses but I have never dried sunflowers. I have seen dried sunflowers before for sale at the local Michaels Craft Store so I knew it could be done. The question then became how best to dry them? I investigated this matter through extension offices, craft groups, and countless websites to produce what I hope will give the best results.

The Hanging Method:
This is the most tried and true method out there for drying just about anything. 1. Cut the sunflowers leaving a long stem.
2. Bunch them together and tie the ends with string.
3. Hang the bunch upside down in a dry but dark place.
4. The sunflowers should be dry in a few weeks.
This method is the method that I regularly use with my herbs. The petals of the sunflower will become a little crinkly and fold around the seed pod. Their color will dull partially. All in all this is an easy way to dry the sunflowers. The look is a little rustic.

The Wire Rack Method:
This method is very much the same as the hanging method with the exception that the sunflowers will dry in an upright position and therefore have a more flat appearance.
1. Suspend an old wire clothes shelf, chicken wire, or other mesh wire that is framed in a dry dark place.
2. Cut the sunflowers leaving a stem.
3. Poke the stem of the sunflower through the holes in the wire and position the flower so it rests flat on top of the wire with the stem hanging below.
4. Give each sunflower enough space on the rack so that its petals do not touch another sunflower's petals.
5. The sunflowers should be dry in a few weeks.
This should produce a somewhat flatter flower when dry, but the color will still fade or brown a bit.

Cat Liter Method:
This method I have done before for roses and it works very well. I have always found the color of the dried rose to be very close to its original fresh color.
1. Poor a couple of inches of cheap clay based cat litter into a basin. Be sure to use a kind that won't clump.
2. Remove the sunflower from its stem and lay flat on top of the litter.
3. Carefully pour another inch of litter onto the sunflower.
4. The sunflower should dry in a few days.
I read in my research that some people have even had luck using this method with a microwave. They did steps 1 - 3 and then microwaved for two minutes. This sounds like it might be worth trying especially if you don't want to wait days or weeks to have dried sunflowers.

I hope this helps and happy planting!

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