Cutting and Drying Flowers

One of the greatest pleasures of growing a garden is having an abundance of flowers for picking. Some varieties take well to drying and will last into winter and beyond.
Dried Flowers Add Spice, Color to Floral Arrangements

Dried Flowers Add Spice, Color to Floral Arrangements

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK Books - How to Grow
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When to Start: for cutting, autumn or spring; for drying, summer to autumn

At Their Best: for cutting, spring to late summer; for drying, all year round

Time to Complete: for cutting, 5 hours for sowing and pricking out and 2 hours for planting; for drying, about 2 weeks

Materials Needed:

  • seeds of annuals
  • bulbs
  • perennials
  • shovel
  • well-composted organic matter
  • watering can
  • flowers for drying
  • rubber bands
  • tacks or pins
  • hooks or paperclips
  • string

Flowers for Cutting

Peonies: Perfect Cut Flowers

Peonies: Perfect Cut Flowers

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

  • Allium
  • Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria)
  • snapdragon
  • chrysanthemum
  • cleome
  • cornflower (Centaureacosmos)
  • daffodil
  • dahlia
  • foxglove
  • peony
  • Rudbeckia
  • sunflower
  • sweetpea
  • sweet william
  • tulip
  • zinnia

Flowers for Drying

Stunning Strawflowers

Stunning Strawflowers

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

  • yarrow
  • cornflower (Centaurea)
  • globe thistle (Echinops)
  • hare's tail (Lagurus)
  • lavender
  • love-in-a-mist
  • quaking grass (Briza)
  • sea holly (Eryngium)
  • statice (Limonium)
  • strawflower (Xerochrysum)

Cut Plants

Flower Cuttings

Flower Cuttings

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Many plants can be cut frequently with little impact on the garden display; they just keep on producing more flowers. Plant a cutting border full of such varieties.

Plant in Swathes

Rainbow Flower Garden

Rainbow Flower Garden

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Clear the area of weeds and dig in organic matter. In fall, plant bulbs and mark their positions. Then in spring, plant large swathes of perennials and annuals, so you can cut the flowers regularly without leaving big gaps in the planting beds.

Pick and Mix

Cutting Flowers

Cutting Flowers

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

When you're planning to pick your flowers, water the area well the night before. This helps stems plump up and the cut flowers will keep longer. It's best to cut first thing in the morning, plunging the stems immediately into a deep bucket of water. Always cut to just above a leaf.

Drying Plants

Some flowers retain their colors and scents when they're cut and dried and can be used in flower arrangements throughout the year. Seedheads look striking in indoor arrangements too, but leave some on the plants if you want a dramatic winter garden.

Plant and Sow

Several perennials are useful as dried flowers, but you may want to sow some annuals too. Sow half-hardy annuals into modules or pots indoors in spring, planting when all risk of frost has passed. Hardy annuals can be sown direct in autumn or spring. Water, feed and deadhead as you would any other plant.

Cut in Dry Weather

Pick flowers for drying in fine weather to avoid excess moisture on the foliage and petals. Most flowers will dry better if they're cut before they're fully open. Pick roses just as the buds begin to open, and lavender stems as the top petals start to emerge.

Air-Dry the Blooms

Dried Lavender Hung Upside Down

Dried Lavender Hung Upside Down

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tie a few stems together with string or a rubber band. Use a kitchen hook or a paper clip to attach the band to a line of string or tie them to a bamboo cane. Then fix the string or cane to the ceiling in a cool, airy place. Because strong light bleaches out the colors, hang them in the dark or at least in low light.

Next Up

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