From hydrangeas to zinnias, all of these are beautiful flowers that we'll lose come frost. One of the solutions to extend the flower season is to dry them. Flowers like these zinnias, roses or small sunflowers, are hard to dry. You really need silicone gel, and maybe even drying them in a microwave to dry them down and desiccate them.
I like preserving the easy to dry flowers, like this beautiful hydrangea, Russian sage, or some of the other flowers that literally dry right on the plant. When you are selecting a hydrangea to dry, you have to get it at the right stage of maturity.
This is a 'Pee Gee', or paniculata hydrangea. This is the type that's blooming now and if you left them on the bush, they would actually dry right by themselves and they would look nice right into the fall or winter.
But if you don't cut and dry them now you'll start to get browning on the petals or the weather will damage them. I like to harvest them now while they look beautiful. To harvest, look for flower heads that are filled all the way to the tip. You don't want ones that have some buds that have yet to fill out. They're going to be a little bit harder to dry.
Once you select one, look for a little pinking going on, too. That's another good sign of maturity. You can cut the blooms all the way back about one foot deep down the stem. Once you've cut it, strip off all of the leaves. By stripping off all of the leaves, you're opening the stem up so that it will dry a little bit faster. Once the leaves are stripped off, put it in a vase.
You can just leave it in the vase and let the water naturally evaporate. It's a slow process that will actually help the flower dry nicer. That way you can keep it for weeks or months afterwards.
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