How to grow & dry flowers for dried flower arrangements

The complete guide to dried flowers: How to grow, dry & arrange with dried flowers

There is no doubt the importance that fresh flowers have on our lives. They are used as symbols of celebration and can evoke strong memories of what are typically fleeting moments. If you’ve fallen for flowers, you will understand the power they hold. They force you to welcome seasonality and delight in the present. 

Yet, there is something so reassuring about being able to preserve these moments of brevity. While there is a precious quality about fresh blooms, the art of dried flowers seems to always have had a place throughout history – and has been reinvented many times over.  

While it is true that every flower, leaf, or seed head can be dried, there are certain plants that perform better as everlasting flowers. This article provides an overview of the specific flowers you can incorporate into your overall garden design with the purpose of drying and enjoying in your home as décor for years to come.

Read on to learn the most effective method for drying flowers including three unique dried flower projects you can work on using the dried florals from your garden. 

Garden Design including flowers for drying
Elly’s garden full of flowers for drying and arranging.

Planning a dried flower garden 

When it comes to planning your dried flower garden, there are certain types of plants that may spring to mind. Strawflowers and statice are seen as true everlastings. Their papery petals allow for their natural form and rich colours to be retained even after the drying process. There is no doubt that relying on these tried-and-true classics is useful but there are so many more viable options out there which can bring a point of difference to your designs. 

If you aim to include a few flowers as described in the categories below (focal, filler, foliage and feathers), you will have plenty of ingredients to create a dried arrangement (or more) come the end of the season. 

Dried Hydrangeas
Drying hydrangea.
Cupcake Rose for dried arrangements
Cupcake roses can be dried.
Dried Dahlias
Dried dahlias.

Focal flowers 

Tulips, ranunculus and dahlias are not usually thought of as dried flowers. They are bold and fleshy, yet still make suitable dried flowers regardless of their plump texture. Their appearance, once dried, changes dramatically. Vivid or fluorescent colours shift to moody and muted. The drama becomes much more subtle and understated, and there is a quiet beauty about their presence. 

More options for focal flowers include: 
  • Roses 
  • Hydrangea 
  • Protea 
  • Delphinium 
  • Amaranthus 
Statice flowers in the garden.
Strawflowers in garden
Strawflowers in garden.
Achillea millefolium hanging to dry
Achillea millefolium hanging to dry.

Filler flowers

Flat topped flowers make great fillers. These are bulky and can be used as a transitional piece between opposing shapes, like daisies and spikes. Achillea (or yarrow) is one of the best flat topped flowers for drying and comes in an array of colours. Try Achillea millefolium ‘Pastel Fruit’ mix or Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’ – a perennial with large, golden umbels. For something different try Achillea ptarmica, which has tiny clusters of daisies that have the appearance of Gypsophilia once dried. 

More options for filler flowers include: 
  • Pycnosorus (Billy buttons / Billy balls)
  • Ammobium 
  • Limonium 
  • Gypsophila 
  • Lavender 
  • Larkspur 
  • Oregano 
  • Matricaria ‘Tetra’ 
  • Statice 
  • Strawflowers 
Dried Seedheads
Dried seedheads.

Feathery flowers & seed pods 

Feathery flowers and seed pods are the dazzling, ‘twinkly’ bits that are the perfect addition to a dried flower installation. 

There are so many grasses out there with interesting feather heads that can be foraged, but you won’t regret incorporating ornamental grasses like Miscanthus or perennials with fluffy flowers like Solidago into your garden. With dried grasses, even just pulling together grass bundles as arrangements can be a sweet addition to a sweet vase. 

Likewise, seed pods are textural havens, and there are so many delicate wonders that can be grown that sometimes it is hard to narrow it down. However, it’s hard to go passed the enchanting pods of Nigella (Love-in-a-mist) which seem so fragile yet are the hardiest of spring blooms and rampant self-seeders. 

Nigella Seedhead in garden
Nigella seedhead in garden.
Scabiosa Flowers and Seedheads
Scabiosa flowers and seedheads.
Breadseed Poppy Seedhead in garden
Breadseed poppy seedhead in garden.
More options for feathery flowers include: 
  • Sorrel 
  • Celosia 
  • Solidago 
  • Quaking Grass 
  • Bunny Tails 
  • Miscanthus 
  • Artemisia 
  • Astilbe 
  • Orach 
More options for seed pods include: 
  • Nigella 
  • Lunaria 
  • Breadseed Poppies 
  • Persian cress
  • Ornamental Carrot 
  • Mignonette 
  • Lambs ear 
  • Scabiosa 
  • Echinops 
  • Sea Holly 
Buplureum in garden
Foraging Foliage to Dry


Foliage is often overlooked in an arrangement, but it is the tonal backdrop that allows the other flowers to sing. Foliage can be hard to find as many leaves tend to dry brown rather than green. This is why you will see many dried flower arrangements with silver foliage like Eucalyptus or Dusty Miller as it holds its colour well. Still, there are some options out there that retain their green colouring, like Buplureum griffithii, an annual much like Euphorbia without the toxic sap. 

Foliage options include: 
  • Silver birch 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Brachyglottis greyi 
  • Wattle 
  • Choisa ternata 
  • Hops 
  • Bells of Ireland 
  • Buplureum 
Nigella Flowers in garden
Nigella flowers in garden.

Harvesting tips

When it comes to harvesting flowers for drying, timing is everything. The ideal stage to harvest dried flowers is when they are in peak bloom (the bloom is fully open) and they are looking their best. 

Choose a dry, sunny day and harvest your flowers in the morning, after the dew has evaporated but before the heat of the day sets in. Use sharp, clean snips to cut the stems, ensuring a clean angled cut that promotes water absorption. Flowers should then be stored in a bucket of cold water overnight before being hung up to dry. This process ensures the flowers are fully hydrated and helps them to retain their colour better. 

For focal flowers like Roses and Dahlias, harvest them just before they reach full bloom when the petals are still firm. For filler and foliage flowers, such as Achillea and Eucalyptus, harvest them when they are at their peak, displaying vibrant colours and optimal structure. 

Varieties of flowers like Nigella, Poppies and Scabiosa must only be harvested once they have finished flowering and the seed heads have developed. There are many examples of seed and feather heads whose colour deepens the longer it is left to ripen. Sorrel and Solidago are two examples where the seed heads can be picked in differing stages depending on the preferred colour choice – green through to rusty brown. 

Hanging Statice Flowers to dry
Hanging statice flowers to dry.

Methods for drying flowers

Hanging flowers upside down is the most effective method for drying blooms and preserving their beauty to use creatively within your home.

Hanging upside down ensures the stems stay straight however there are some flowers that can be dried the right way up. And even some, like Hydrangeas, which prefer to be dried in water as this can help to retain their colour. 

For heavy headed blooms, like Dahlias you may choose to dry them in chicken wire with the heads facing upwards to prevent the stem from snapping, or hang upside down individually. They will also benefit from a day or two drying direct in the sun before being moved to a darker space as they are prone to rot. 

How to dry flowers: 

1. Gather your homegrown blooms and secure them in small bunches of 5-10 stems, depending on the size of the flower heads. Rubber bands are the best option for tying together the flower bouquets as they contract as the flowers dry and remain tight.  

2. Choose a dry location with good ventilation like a closet or attic. The space does not have to be completely dark but the flowers should be kept out of direct sunlight as this can bleach the colour. 

The ideal space will have low humidity to facilitate the drying process and prevent mould formation and while some heat is acceptable, if it stays too hot for a long duration of time, the flowers may dry too quickly and become brittle or break. 

3. Tie a piece of string from one side of the room or cupboard to the other. Divide the bunch in half and hang it over the string like a clothesline. Slide the bunches across as they dry and add more to the space as needed. But be mindful of overcrowding. 

When suspending the bunches upside down, allow air to circulate freely around each bloom as this spacing encourages effective drying.  

4. Patience is key in this process, as flowers may take a long time (several weeks) to fully dry. Regularly check the progress of your hanging bunches – sometimes it is hard to know if they are fully dried but a trick is to touch the stem behind the rubber band to your lip to check for any residual moisture. 

5. Once fully dried you can use immediately in the home or wrap in newspaper and store in a cardboard box for a later date. 

Dried flowers hanging in house

Dried flower project ideas 

There are many ways to use dried flowers around the home, and in recent years they have become valued as creative home décor objects. There is also a sense of sentimentality about drying flowers from your garden (or a special occasion) and displaying them in the home. 

How to make a Dried Floral Wreath
Making Wreath using Jasmine Vine

Dried flower wreaths 

Climbers like jasmine, potato vine or grape can be pruned at the end of autumn and shaped into a handmade wreath. Using floral wire or twine you can then bundle mini-bunches of flowers together and thread them onto the base to create an artwork from the beauty of nature for your wall.  

Dried Floral Arrangement using flowers from the garden
Dried floral arrangement using flowers from the garden.

Dried flower vase arrangements

If you have a favourite vase or piece of pottery you love, why not build a custom bouquet for it? Vase floral arrangements are the perfect way to display your focal flowers like Protea or Dahlias, while playing with the height and texture using spike shaped flowers and feather heads. 

Fresh Larkspur flower
Larkspur Botanical Art

Dried botanical art

Have you ever wanted to preserve the memory of your bridal bouquet or graduation flowers? Try drying one favourite flower from the bouquet before gluing to cardstock and displaying in a shadowbox frame. Add a custom label and this floral art will make a unique keepsake of a treasured moment. 

The magic and natural beauty of dried florals is their ability to preserve memories and fleeting moments. By incorporating flowers for drying into your garden’s design, you are opening a new window for creative opportunities. Flowers that are selected thoughtfully and then dried using simple hanging methods can be treasured in the home for many years to come.