How to Dry Roses

The nice pink rose in the picture is one of my favorite wreath roses. I've tucked a bud or two into raffia, cloth and fabric wreath bows for years because these pinks aren't fussy and I can wait to cut them back in fall until the first part of November -- usually, which makes them perfect for wreath making.

Drying Roses in a Dehydrator

You'll read a lot about hanging roses upside down in an attic or covering them with silica gel (or another desiccant) to promote fast trying, but I usually rely on a dehydrator. I have a couple that I keep for fall harvesting -- one for food items and the other for craft plants and flowers. They work very well for me, and I recommend them wholeheartedly. You can spend hundreds of dollars for a dehydrator with shelves, a fan and a thermostat, but I usually use a basic setup (purchased years ago for around $30) with dishwasher safe nesting racks and a simple heating element.

It typically takes a day or less at between 105 and 115 degrees F (a common temperature range for dehydrators) to dry rose buds, and even less time to dry rose petals. I just make sure to turn the individual blooms a couple of times (and rotate the racks a quarter turn) to keep the petals from drying with the crosshatch imprint of the racks on them.

Tips for Rose Potpourri

From pink roses that turn mauve, to sweetheart red roses that turn almost black, what you see isn't always what you get in the world of herb drying in general and rose drying in particular.

The photo at the left shows the rose above after a few hours drying time. You'll see that it has darkened quite a bit -- yes, it is the same bud. Darkening is typical.

Once a rose dries, it can be sturdier and more resilient than you might expect too. The dried rose at the bottom of this blog is three years old and comes from the same bush as the pink example rose. Dried roses become brittle, but with regular dusting (I blow them clean with a hair dryer) you can use them for more than one season.

My secret to refreshing potpourri is to change out most of the other loose materials but keep the rose buds, wood flowers, pine cones and acorns. I add a couple of drops of rose essential oil (or another essential oil blend) and use them all over again. I think of it as a nice way to preserve the beauty of a season -- or two -- or three.

Air Drying Roses

If you do decide to dry roses the old fashioned way -- upside down in a dark, warm, dry location, remember to use a rubber band instead of twine to bind bunches of blooms. As the stems dry out and lose volume the band will cinch up, keeping them from falling out of the bundle and shattering on the floor. These tips will help too:

Choose buds that are just opening. They'll have the most natural look once dried and stay together better.

Strip the leaves from the stems before you dry roses. Moisture in tightly packed leaves can lead to mold growth.

Keep bunches small to enhance air circulation.

Hang blossoms and leave them alone for ten days to two weeks. When they're brittle to the touch, they're done.

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