I have always loved the smell of roses. They’re pretty, too, but that smell of fresh roses is one of the best things on the planet. For me it’s right on up there with the smell of coffee and baby powder and pie in the oven.
When I bought my first house in Oklahoma I wanted to leave my mark and make that house as beautiful as possible. Some of the projects I wanted to take on, like updating the old 80’s bathrooms and kitchen, were quite expensive and so I did things I could swing on the cheap here and there.
And that wound up meaning gardening. I was scared of snakes, which were super common, but I still go out there and planted things and then dug them up when they died and replaced them :) Though I enjoyed the act of gardening and the pretty curb appeal my pursuits created I’ve never been particularly good at gardening. But one day I went to a place called Earl’s Nursery and I spoke to Earl himself, telling him I was pretty much broke and that I killed just about everything anyway when he told me all of his secrets for growing beautiful roses. And then he sold me a Joseph’s Coat climbing rose buJoseph’s Coat climbing rose bush <–click for pics, SO PRETTY) for $6 and I’m pretty darn sure he gave me a steal on that thing.
I took it home, did everything it said and it bloomed like crazy the entire time I lived in that house. People I didn’t know would pull up into my driveway to stop and ask for a cutting. I always said yes and shared what Earl had given to me.
Now I’m not growing roses here because at a nursery I was told that it’s largely too hot here but I’ve been planting lots of tropicals and they are doing really well. I still love those roses, though and last week I decided to buy up a dozen and try to rainbow dye them. While that was a fail as the roses were starting to wilt and fade, petals falling all over my desk, I decided to dry them to use in an upcoming project.
And guess what, guys? It’s SUPER EASY to do. And quick. And while this bouquet doesn’t really mean anything, I still love the bright colors I achieved with food coloring, and I know that when I do have a bouquet that means something that I can successfully preserve it!
For this project you will need:
On the left we have a dried rose (which shrinks quite a bit) and on the right a still fresh rose. In all fairness it is a bit “crispy” because I over dried it. That’s also why it’s a bit too yellow, but for my upcoming project it will work just fine so I’m not worried about it, BUT this shows why it’s a good idea to first get your technique down with this before you tackle a keepsake bouquet.
Cut your rose so that you have an inch or 2 of stem. If keeping all of the petals intact is a big issue for you, use a PVA glue like Elmer’s or a low temperature hot glue gun to keep the petals in place and the rose fully intact. Allow the glue to dry before continuing.
If you want your roses to retain their stem, place this off to the side and then once dry reattach by running floral wire through it and up into the rose itself. A few dabs of glue will reform the stem with no one the wiser!
Place roses (or other flower) stem side into about 1.5 inches of silica crystals placed in the bottom of a plastic container. Do not allow any flowers, if adding more than one, to touch. Sprinkle a little bit of silica gel into the petals, taking care not to add to much as the weight will pull the rose apart.
*quick tip – after this project your container will no longer be food safe as the silica will wick away any pesticides into your flowers and pull it toward the plastic. Be sure to use a container that you are okay with using for craft purposes only moving forward.
Now at this point you have 2 options. The first is to snap the lid onto the container and wait 3 days for the moisture to be wicked out of the flowers and into the (3 for roses, see package directions for duration for other flowers). The second is to zap the roses in the microwave.
Because I’m impatient I went with the microwave method. Place a full mug of water in the microwave and place the rose containing container next to it. Zap the rose for 3 minutes, 30 second to 1 minute intervals, rotating the placement in the gel to allow all sides to be dried. Take care when handling as the silica gel (and to a lesser degree the flowers) will become incredibly hot.
The more you rotate your rose as it dries the less “flat” it will become and the more it will retain its original shape. Mine is kind of flat but it’s still okay! :)
Once “dried” there is still a bit of moisture that needs to disperse before these guys are well and truly done. If placed on a flat surface the liquid will sort of pool beneath the flower which isn’t good. Instead place your dried flowers on a mesh or grate to help them dry all around. I used a removable window screen like this guy…
I love this method of drying roses because it’s super quick AND it allows the rose to retain its color (see how I dyed these to be so vibrant here). If you’ve ever hung roses upside down to dry, it takes a few weeks to completion and, in my experience, somehow all roses end up a weird yellow, like old paper.
Once fully dry these guys are a bit brittle so take care with them. With proper treatment this dried roses will last for ages and act as the perfect keepsake!