The art of preserving flowers has been around since the time of ancient Egyptians, who made common use of bouquets and flower garlands in everyday life and at burial sites.
Flowers have long been a beautiful addition to any occasion. As they’ve become more common in special events such as weddings, people continue to preserve them as a keepsake.
One of the more popular ways to preserve flowers in present day is to cast them in resin. With hundreds of silicone molds to choose from, you can preserve your flowers in a coaster, a piece of jewelry, a paperweight, and more.
So, how do you dry flowers for resin? To dry flowers for resin, the quickest way is to dry them in the microwave or oven. The added heat helps pull the moisture out of the flowers. You can also dry them by pressing them, submerging them in silica gel, hanging them up, or placing them in a food dehydrator.
Each of these methods has their own pros and cons. Some take longer but preserve the flowers in their natural color and shape better. Some are quick but can lead to discoloration.
In this article, we’ll review all of these methods so you can choose the right one for how you want your flowers to look in your finished project.
Methods For Drying Flowers
You’ve probably seen dried flowers more often than you realize.
Dried flowers are commonly used in potpourri, candles, and soaps. These flowers have not been cast in resin, but rather allowed to sit naturally or have been encased in wax or soap.
It’s also become popular in recent years to dry entire wedding bouquets, then place them in a shadow box picture frame for display.
For this article, we’re focusing on drying flowers for resin projects. This means setting them inside a silicone mold and pouring resin over them to create jewelry, trays, coasters, keepsakes, and more.
The most important thing when drying flowers is to ensure they’re fully dry before use; if they retain any moisture, they will rot inside of the resin.
Let’s explore the different methods of flower drying to get you started on your next resin craft.
1. Pressing Flowers
The method of pressing flowers is probably the one you’re most familiar with. If you search the Internet, you will find no shortage of beautiful photographs of pressed flowers between the pages of a book.
This isn’t just useful for a pretty picture. This method really does work to dry your flowers.
What you’ll need:
- Your flowers
- Two sheets of absorbent paper
- A heavy book
How to press flowers:
- Lay one of the sheets down in the middle of your open book.
- Lay the flowers on the absorbent sheet. Make sure you consider the way they will be squished down when you place them.
- Lay the other sheet on top and close the book and leave for 3-4 weeks.
There are considerations to be made when using this method, though. First, you’ll have to make sure your flowers were picked after the dew has already dried. We recommend picking flowers in the afternoon on a sunny day.
You’ll also need to decide whether you want to include the leaves, use only the petals, or choose a flower bud rather than a flower in full bloom.
Next, if this is a book you care about protecting, you’ll need to ensure that the sheets of absorbent paper are truly absorbent enough to protect the pages of your book. Simple coffee filters will work for a book you don’t care about, but you’ll want something more heavy-duty if you want to preserve the book.
You also need to determine if you have enough time for this method. Drying flowers by pressing takes around 3-4 weeks, and we recommend letting them dry longer rather than cutting it short. If you take them out too early, you’ll damage them.
It’s also important to note that the vibrancy of the flowers won’t remain. The colors will likely fade, and the flowers will be flat. For some, this is the look they want. But if you’re hoping for vibrant colors and full flowers, this method may not be right for you.
2. Dry In Silica Gel
The next method is to dry your flowers in silica gel crystals.
This technique is one of our favorites because it’s much quicker than pressing, keeps the shape and vibrancy of the flowers, and is incredibly simple.
While you can also use borax, white corn starch, or fine sand, we highly recommend sticking with silica gel crystals, as they tend to work the best. They’re also reusable, and will change color (usually pink, but it depends on the brand) when they’ve absorbed all the moisture they can take.
Be careful when choosing which silica gel to purchase. Some of the larger beads will leave noticeable dimples and indents on your flowers and leaves that are likely not the look you want. We suggest using these Activa Silica Gel Crystals, as they are finer and don’t leave indents.
With silica gel, you can preserve the entire flower (including the stem) or just parts of the flower.
How to dry flowers using silica gel:
- Find a tall jar. Pour about an inch or two of the silica gel into the jar.
- Place your flowers inside standing upright. They should fit without sticking out over the top.
- Pour silica gel into the container until it’s full and has completely covered your flowers.
- Seal with a lid and let sit for around 2-4 days.
The silica gel forms around the flower rather than pressing it. This ensures that the flower is preserved in its full shape, whether it’s budding or in full bloom. Because it’s not sitting in open air or exposed to heat, the color tends to stay better too.
The only downsides to this method are if you need them dried within a single day rather than a period of a few days, and that if you pour the silica gel too quickly or add too much, you can potentially damage the flowers.
By far the simplest method, hanging your flowers to dry is exactly as it sounds.
How to dry your flowers by hanging them up:
- Remove the leaves from your flowers, as they will not dry the same way and may hinder your flowers from drying properly.
- Cut the stems to about 6 inches in length.
- Tie a rubber band or string around each stem or the bouquet.
- Use that band or string to hang the flowers upside-down and allow them dry naturally, ideally in a dark and well-ventilated space.
- Leave them for 3-4 weeks.
Once the flowers have completely dried, be sure to spray them with an unscented hairspray. This will protect them from damage, as they may become quite brittle and fragile with this method.
While this process is the easiest, it isn’t one we would rank high on the list for several reasons.
For starters, this is another method that will take 3-4 weeks, sometimes longer depending on the type of flower. Most crafters don’t want to wait a month to get started, so this can be a big drawback.
Another disadvantage is the color vibrancy. If you don’t start the drying process as soon as you cut the flowers, or if you let them hang in a room with sunlight rather than a dark room, they can lose their vibrancy and dry a dirty beige color.
Some flowers tend to shrink in size when dried this way. Some of them shouldn’t be dried this way at all, such as orchids, which will take too long to dry and lose all of their color.
If you’ve never thought of drying flowers in the microwave, you’re not alone. While this may be one of the most surprising methods, it’s actually the one we recommend the most!
The primary advantage of drying flowers in the microwave is that it’s the fastest method available. Your flowers will be dried and ready to use in mere minutes, rather than days or weeks.
How to dry flowers in the microwave:
- Grab two ceramic plates and some coffee filters – two items that most households have on hand.
- Lay a coffee filter on top of the first plate, then arrange the flowers (not touching) on top of the coffee filter.
- Lay another filter on top of the flowers, then place the second ceramic plate on top.
- Microwave at 50% power for about a minute and check the texture to see if they’re dried.
Flowers that have completely dried in this method will feel papery. If your petals still feel smooth and silk-like, they’re not dry yet. Microwave in additional 30 second bursts until they feel right.
When using this method, it’s vital that you microwave only at 50% power. If you microwave at full power, you will damage the flowers.
It’s also good to note that not all flowers dry at the same temperature, so check all petals when testing the texture. Some may be done and some may need more time. Be sure to remove the flowers that are already dry before putting the other flowers back for further drying.
If you plan on doing this method a lot, we recommend investing in a Microfleur press. This is a microwave flower press specifically designed to dry flowers in the microwave. It’s available in 5” and 9” sizes and you can buy replacement pads over time.
Again, be sure to microwave at 50% power or you run the risk of scorching your felt pads and cotton liners.
Finally, be prepared for the colors of your flower to change with this method. The heat does retain some level of color, but it tends to darken the original colors, leaving you with less vibrancy.
If you want your flowers dried the same day but need them to retain their shape, drying in the oven is the right method for you.
Flowers dried in the oven will still lose a little of their color, but you may be surprised but how much color remains when they’re done.
How to dry flowers in the oven:
- Cut off the stems right where they meet the base of your bud or blossom.
- Arrange the flowers over a drying rack, making sure they have enough space and are not overlapping or touching at all.
- Preheat your oven to 200ºF.
- Once fully heated, put your drying rack with flowers in for 1 ½ hours. You may want to place the drying rack on top of a baking sheet for stability.
- Feel your flowers to check if they’re dried after the time is up. Some may need more time, and some may already be done. You will want to check and see if they feel crisp and dry around the edges of the petals. If so, take them out.
Leaving flowers in the oven for too long can cause them to get crumbly and lose color, so you want to check each type of flower to dry each of them at their own rate.
When done, take the flowers out and set them aside to cool. Once they’ve fully cooled down from being in the oven, they’re ready to use!
This method may take a little longer than drying in the microwave, but using the oven allows you to dry the flowers in their full shape, which can make for beautiful 3D effects when encased in resin.
6. Food Dehydrator
Our final method for drying flowers is to use a food dehydrator! Not as quick as the microwave or oven, but not as slow as silica gel, hanging, or pressing, this method is ideal for those who can wait a simple 24 hours to retain the shape and color better.
How to dry flowers in a food dehydrator:
- When using a food dehydrator, it’s best to choose flowers in full bloom. Clip the stem and leaves off, leaving you with just the flower blossom.
- Set the flowers on the dehydrator trays, being careful not to let them touch or overlap at all. If you have more flowers than can fit at one time, break them up into batches.
- Turn on your dehydrator and allow it to get to work! You’ll want to rotate the trays around 2-4 times during the process to allow for even dryness across all flowers.
- After 24 hours they should be dried and ready for use. If they still feel soft and smooth, try putting them back in for hour-long intervals to ensure complete dryness.
With this method, we recommend drying your flowers in batches by density or dimension to ensure even dryness. You wouldn’t want to place a daisy and an orchid together, as their drying times tend to differ and you run the risk of over- or under-drying some of your flowers.
When you dry flowers through this method of dehydration, they may shrink in size. If you’re trying small flower buds, we recommend using the mesh inserts designed to fit inside your machine to prevent the flowers from falling through the grid of your dehydrator trays.
How Do You Put Dried Flowers In Resin?
Because dried flowers are very delicate, we highly recommend using a pair of tweezers to handle them. Gently grab the flower with the tweezers and set it down lightly into the mold. Be careful when pouring the resin on top to avoid damaging or smashing the flower.
If you want a more in-depth tutorial, we suggest taking a look at this video from Sheri Vegas on YouTube.
Up Next: The Best Craft Resin Kits