Dead flowers make your garden look unkempt or forlorn, but that certainly doesn't mean they need a one-way ticket to the landfill. You can reuse dead flowers for many crafty purposes, and it's environmentally friendly to conserve and preserve. Let your imagination run when it comes to finding things to do with dead or dying flowers.
Not all flowers in a bouquet or garden die at the same rate. To determine when it's time to lop blooms, watch for wilting petals or dropped petals. Some flowers develop brown or discolored patches that mar the petals. Harvest dead flowers as they lose their luster, with an eye toward future use.
Flowers that are healthy can be composted: to do this, add blooms to your compost machine or compost pile, and wait. Over time, the matter decays. If you're sentimental or crafty, dead flowers make excellent additions to potpourri and can also be gathered into a bouquet or wreath for long-lasting beauty. Some flower pods look attractive when the petals die -- poppy or sunflower -- and can be left standing in the garden. If you cull flowers before they lose their looks, you can press them between pages of a large book to enjoy preserved flowers.
Finding new ways to use dead flowers makes sense, for both practical and sentimental reasons. Preserving flowers in a potpourri, dried-flower arrangement or pressed flower album helps you remember special events or gifts from loved ones. Composting spent garden blooms saves yard waste and benefits your garden when you get to spread the nutrient-rich compost through your soil. But don't feel you need to save every flower -- when you've got as much potpourri, compost or dried-rose bouquets as you can reasonably use, you can add dead flowers to your trash.
Dead and dried-out flowers become fragile and easily prone to dropped petals. Be careful when you move dried flowers. Because the bacteria can live on even though the plant is dead, dead flowers that show evidence of disease should not be reused in the home or around the garden. For fast drying, use silica gel, which dehydrates flowers in 48 hours or less and preserves color. Pour silica gel in the bottom of a pan or roasting dish, then place your flowers on top, face-down, and add more silica gel. Put the pan in the microwave, along with a cup of water. Microwave for 45 to 60 seconds at a time, until your flowers feel dry. To prevent mold, keep flowers out of the sun while drying.
- Earth911: Preserve First, Then Compost Valentine's Day Flowers; Jordan Bren; 2011
- Seattle PI: When Is a Good Time to Prune; Kathleen Huddy; 2009
- Nola: Holiday Decorating the Natural Way, With Help from Your Garden; Dan Gill; 2010
- North Dakota State University; Methods of Preserving Flowers; Ronald C. Smith; 1993
- University of Georgia; How to Dry Flowers; Terry Hamlin
- Photo Credit dried flower image by Hao Wang from Fotolia.com
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