New trends constantly bloom in the professional floristry world, from extravagant flower walls, and glamorous flower crowns. However, the newest floral trend is a little different; it seems everything old is new again! Popping up in fashion magazines and home décor pages, the newest trend is dried and preserved flowers. With their warm hues and range of natural flowers, grasses and greenery on offer; these chic botanicals add an everlasting element of texture and charm to their environment.
Although they may look similar, there are slight differences between how dried and preserved flowers are produced. Here’s all you need to know about them.
How are dried flowers made?
As you may have guessed from the name, these flowers are dried out in a process where they are placed face down, or hung upside down in a shed, and left to dehydrate naturally. It takes around two to three weeks to dry flowers naturally. This time can be even less if the weather is hot. Please note that you should not remove flowers from their drying positions until they are completely dry.
Once the process is complete and they are completely dehydrated, the flowers and leaves are brittle to touch. To help retain their natural shape, they are given a colouration and setting treatment. Please note, dried flowers cannot be labelled as such unless they are ‘naturally dried’. If this is not done they are categorised as preserved flowers.
How are preserved flowers made?
Unlike dried flowers, preserved flowers undergo a much more technical process. After the fresh flowers are cut they are then placed, stem first, into glycerine (trihydric alcohol) to undergo a rehydration process. Glycerine (also called glycerol or glycerin) is a simple polyol compound. It is a colourless, odourless, viscous liquid that is sweet-tasting and non-toxic. The glycerine is absorbed by the flower, through the stem, until it substitutes the sap. This process of preserving flowers is well suited for more sturdy flowers like roses, gerberas, chrysanthemums, daisies, carnations, Peruvian lilies, billy buttons, and cymbidium orchids. After this process is complete, the plant is ready to be used. The final product remains soft and almost exactly like they were in nature.
After the flowers have been preserved you can then choose to change their original colour through the process of bleaching. To change the colours of the flowers you need to bleach them to remove all the original pigment. Two methods of bleaching can be used by a florist to create this look. The first method can be oxidative bleaching, which uses hypochlorite, chlorite, and peroxide chemicals, or the second method can be reductive bleaching, which uses sulphites, and borohydrides chemicals. Please note, the bleach products used throughout this process are no different to the bleach a florist would use on their flower buckets, daily. When the flower has gone through this process, subtle food dyes can be added to it to create on-trend pastel hues. The final product will remain soft and similar to its natural form.
Preserved flowers are a popular option to create an everlasting memory out of a sentimental arrangement like a bridal bouquet, or creating personalised flower colours to suit your event theme or interior décor.
How long have these techniques been used on flowers?
The process of drying flowers goes back as far as the ancient Egyptians. During ancient times, dried flowers were used by Pharaohs to adorn their war carts, and used to create fragrances and cosmetics. During the Middle Ages, dried flowers were used for more medicinal purposes, to repel diseases and bad smells. Villages in feudal Japan pioneered the art form Oshibana, which is the art of pressing flowers. Also, in Victorian England, it was a popular trend to add dried flowers to jewellery, fans and gloves.
Today, dried flowers remain a key element in many medicinal and aromatic processes, and is a much-loved craft hobby around the word. The process of deliberate flower preservation, such as preserved flowers, is a more recent phenomenon.
Why are dried & preserved flowers so popular?
An added benefit of dried & preserved flowers is their long lifespans. If cared for correctly, dried flowers can last up to 1 year, and preserved flowers can last between 1-35 years, depending on the method used to preserve them. Besides the fact that they are friendly to your wallet, these flowers are also a great way to keep bridal bouquets or sentimental flower arrangements for longer.
Dried and preserved flowers are also a fantastic option for weddings and special events where the weather and landscape conditions may not be favourable for fresh flowers. After being bleached, their colour can also be personalised to suit your event theme or interior décor.
How can you use dried & preserved flowers?
Dried and preserved flowers are incredibly versatile products. These aesthetically pleasing botanicals can be used in any arrangement, from floral arch installations to bridal bouquets. These flowers can be used on their own to create a minimalist floral arrangement for your home décor, such as using sprays of dried Baby’s Breath in a vase or urn.
They can also be combined with other natural or silk flowers to make a fuller arrangement, like the below vintage style centrepiece that features both dried Hydrangea Stems and silk flowers. Adding these fresh or artificial florals can help provide unexpected pops of colour and texture to your arrangement.
With their ever-growing popularity, we are excited to see how dried and preserved flowers will inspire florists and floral designers.