Designers and entertaining experts agree: Floral arrangements are a key part of any successful tablescape. Done well, they can even make a room. So it’s important to switch things up seasonally in order to keep your palette fresh and your serveware accented appropriately. Whether you’re a minimalist or addicted to pattern, flowers should help set and refine the mood. But how do you get cut blooms to last during the cold winter months? A dried arrangement could be the perfect solution. We asked some of our favorite floral designers for their tips on perfecting the look of preserved flowers.
First, Dry Your Blooms
We asked Lutfi Janania, founder of Rosalila, what are some of the best flowers for drying and preserving at home.
“The key is to keep the stems as clean and as dry as possible,” Janania says. “I’ve found that allowing them to dry by single stems or small groupings reduces the chance of bacteria and mold growing. Sometimes we spray our botanical ingredients with a vinegar and water mixture—even rubbing alcohol can work.”
Flowers to Try
- Seeded eucalyptus
- Flowering grasses (spikelet)
- Bird of paradise leaves (Strelitzia)
- Banksia proteases
- Tall grasses
- Bracken ferns
- Sponge mushrooms
- Flowers and foliage of your choice
- Floral tape or rubber bands
Step by Step
- Strip excess foliage from flowers and stems.
- Cut stems to the desired length.
- Use a rubber band, wire, or twine to tie the stems together. “My preferred way of manipulating dry materials is by making small hand-wrapped bunches of dehydrated grasses and similar materials using floral tape,” Janania says. “Think of it like a corset—the tighter the bundle, the more snatched the waist.”
- Hang them upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Keeping the flowers out of direct sunlight will help them retain their color.
- Let them dry for two to three weeks.
- Once dried, take down the flowers and spray with hairspray for protection.
Next, Get Arranging!
Marcie Sherman of Revel & Hearten shares tips on getting the look just right.
“Although arranging with dried flowers can have its challenges, such as the stems being stiff and petals being so fragile, the upside is that you have more freedom on placement,” says Sherman.
What You’ll Need
- Chicken wire or floral foam
- A fun vessel
- A flower frog (optional, for free-standing and ikebana arrangements)
- Create curves. “Dried flowers tend to make a lot of straight lines, but you can form gentler curves by layering multiple items at successively steeper angles.”
- Go low. “Since the tips don’t need to be in water, you can get a stiff product to cascade below the rim of a container by angling stems more horizontally or partially upside down in the chicken wire or other mechanics and covering the tips with other flowers .”
- Embrace monochrome. “If possible, try to use flowers and greenery or grasses that are all within a similar hue, which can really make the arrangement pop, and choose a vase or urn that can conceal chicken wire or a flower frog to secure your stems.”
- Get fresh. “If I have a dried arrangement, I might spruce it up with fresh flowers for a dinner party or other occasion.”
Sean Santiago is ELLE Decor‘s Deputy Editor, covering news, trends and talents in interior design, hospitality, travel, and luxury. He writes the So Courant! column for the magazine and elledecor.com.