Things You'll Need
Clear spray paint
Rudbeckia hirta (Asteraceae), more affectionately referred to as the Black Eyed Susan, and in some rural Maine communities as Bulls Eyes, is one of the most common wildflowers in America. Striking yellow-orange petals surrounding a raised deep brown center blanket hillsides and ditches in late summer. These wonderful daisy like flowers make excellent dried flowers for fall bouquets or autumn crafts.
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Gather Black Eyed Susans in late summer when they are at their peak. Be sure to pick the blooms after the dew has dried on the petals. A dry sunny day is the best time to gather flowers.
Clip the stems to 8 to 10 inches. The stem is difficult to break by hand and tugging them often results in pulling up the entire plant by the roots. Clipping individual stems will allow the plant to continue to grow.
Choose well formed blooms that are free of blemishes or insect damage. Be sure to inspect the undersides of leaves and stems for eggs or other signs of insect infestations. Remove any discolored leaves or other debris.
Remove all but a few leaves. These will curl when drying and do not add to the floral arrangements. Form a loose bouquet of flowers and secure them with an elastic band. Although some people use twine or other material to tie the bouquet together, using an elastic will keep the bundle secure as the stems shrink in drying. Attach a piece of twine for hanging the flowers to dry.
Hang the bundles up-side-down in a cool, dark place that has plenty of ventilation. A cool attic or storage shed works well. Allow the flowers to dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Check the bundles often, especially during hot humid weather, to monitor for mold or mildew. Be sure to turn the flowers to allow all sides to dry.
Apply a coat of clear spray paint or hairspray to dried Black eyed Susans to preserve color and protect them from moisture. Use in floral arrangements or other craft projects.
Remove flowers and use in dried flower arrangements or fall crafts.
To dry individual flowers for potpourri , trim the stems and dry in a food dehydrator for several hours. These colorful flowers make a wonderful addition to any potpourri.