Your Flowers have Dried Up... Now What?
Isabel Branstrom and Jeremy Jubenville

With September arriving in a few weeks, late summer gardening tips help to extend the summer season and the beauty of your blooms as long as possible. Experts Jeremy Jubenville, a floriculture educator, and Isabel Branstrom, a consumer horticulture educator, are two individuals from Michigan State University Extension with an impressive amount of knowledge and experience in the field. When asked the following questions regarding what to do with crumply, old, and dried up flowers, Jeremy and Isabel were more than happy to provide loads of advice. 


What should you do when your flowers start to dry up? 

Both Isabel and Jeremy recommend deadheading, which is trimming off the old blooms from plants. This will make your garden look aesthetically pleasing and will improve a plant’s performance. Marigolds, for instance, are known for reblooming after deadheading. 


Moreover, Isabel and Jeremy also mention that, instead of deadheading, if an individual enjoys gardening to benefit birds or other creatures, leaving the dead flower heads or seed heads can create a feast for these critters in the winter and help improve the garden’s landscape. 


What are some creative ways to decorate with dried flowers? 

For marigold flowers, Isabel advises performing natural dye experiments with them. They are extremely effective natural dye plants, and can generate beautiful colors to dye linen, cotton, silk, and other fibers. 


On the other hand, if an individual is attempting to create a dried flower bouquet, Isabel states, “Dried flower bouquets are really wonderful for flowers like hydrangeas. You have to look into the potential of whatever flower you are working with in regard to a dried flower bouquet. These can sometimes last all winter!”

What is the drying process for a dry bouquet? 

When selecting flowers for dry arrangements, Jeremy suggests choosing stems that are almost in full bloom. 


“Strip off most of the lower leaves, arrange them in small bunches, and hang them upside down in a dry place with good ventilation. Attics and barns are traditional locations for drying plants because they’re warm, dry, well-ventilated, and out of the sun. It may take 3 or 4 weeks for the flowers to dry.”


With care, these dry bouquets can last a year or longer. Isabel adds, “As long as your space is not too humid or moist, these dried flowers should last all winter!”

What are some examples of species that work well in dry arrangements? 

"Species such as Celosia, Gomphrena, strawflower, and Bells of Ireland have a relatively low moisture content and make excellent dry flowers," says Jeremy. "Other plants you might try are Amaranthus, ornamental grasses, and Delphinium. All of these dry down well and retain a good amount of color, provided they're not exposed to sun." Jeremy also notes that plants with high water content, such as peonies and daylilies, are more difficult to work with and are less likely to provide satisfactory results.


Both Isabel Branstrom and Jeremy Jubenville’s advice is relevant, and introduces the importance of experimenting with one’s flowers, even once they have dried up. 


Closing thoughts:


“Dying flowers can still be beautiful and multifaceted in themselves!” – Isabel Branstrom 


"Enjoy yourself and don't be afraid to experiment. With a little persistence, you'll soon find yourself creating beautiful dried arrangements with flowers from your very own garden." – Jeremy Jubenville 

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