When it comes to dried versus preserved flowers, the question will slightly stump most of us, though. So, what is the difference? Is one better than the other? Does it matter? Can I DIY both methods, dried or preserved? Which bloom will last longer? How should I take care of either preserved or dried flower arrangements?
These are questions the team at Flowers Across Australia often gets asked. So we thought we better tackle these questions head-on and provide you with all the facts and plenty of inspiration.
We had fun gathering all the information and finding some snazzy DIY ideas for you. So read on to settle the difference between dried and preserved flowers once and for all.
Dried v. preserved - everything’s coming up roses
Just to make things clear: it’s not a competition, dried versus preserved! There won’t be a list of pros and cons. Both methods will prolong the life of your blooms. Both techniques will create something unique and beautiful. In the end, it comes down to what captures your interest and what you like best. So regardless of what you choose, everything will be coming up roses.
And talking of roses. Let’s take the queen of flowers to show the difference between a preserved and a dried bloom.
Here are the stunning preserved roses from our FAA flower bar for an instant pick-me-up:
Dried flowers are, in essence, the result of taking fresh flowers and - carefully - getting rid of their natural moisture. That sounds quite scientific, but it really isn’t.
Take the roses as an example again. You might have received a bunch of them from a special someone. So, to extend their life, you can air-dry them. Then, all you need to do is hang them upside down in a cool, dark place and out of any draft and humidity.
Once dried out, your roses will lose some of their colour and shrink a little. In addition, they will continue to fade over time. That said, wholly dried flowers can also be professionally re-coloured. That process can either give them back some of their original coloration or give them your favourite hues and shades. You can go all out here.
With a bit of TLC, professionally dried flowers can last up to two years. That means they not only look pretty, but they are also a fantastic sustainable option. Even so, they are relatively brittle and delicate little creatures that will need to be handled with care.
Dried blooms will always give you a more rustic, muted look with earthy tones. Especially if boho-chic is your scene, then dried flowers and grasses are the way to go! They will look stunning as floral arrangements and look - and smell - beautiful in bath salts, potpourris and more.
Imagine one more time looking at preserved peaches and then at the dried apricots. Both are delicious, but both are pretty different in look and consistency. It’s a similar situation with preserved flowers compared to dried ones.
Preserved blooms will beautifully retain the vivid colour of fresh ones. They also keep the softness and strength of a fresh flower. Their flower head, stem and leaves will keep their texture and won’t wrinkle. If anything, they may feel a bit rubbery.
How is this achieved? Take our rose. As it blooms, its stem is cut, and instead of being placed in water, it’s put into a glycerine-based hydrating solution. What happens then is that the rose’s moisture is slowly replaced by glycerine, preserving the bloom in the process. And voila! You’ve immortalised your rose looking fresh and luxurious for up to three years.
Preserved flowers will need less TLC and will cope much better with humidity than dried petals. But, of course, it is best to keep them out of direct sunlight and drafts.
Often, dyes or even food colouring are added to keep colours vibrant over time. But, of course, this process also gives you any colour palette you wish for.
A quick how-to
Preserving flowers with glycerine
Glycerine is the ultimate fountain of youth for flowers!
All you need is one part glycerin to two parts of lukewarm water, scissors, a knife and a bowl or jug - and of course your favourite blooms!
Next, follow these simple steps:
- Cut the stems diagonally and peel off roughly six cms of ‘skin’ and leaves from the lower part.
- Combine your glycerine and water in the jug and put the stems into the solution. At this point, you can also add food colouring to alter the colouration of your petals. Don’t overcrowd the jug.
- Let the glycerine work its magic. This can take up to 3 weeks. But different flowers may take less time, so check in after two weeks already. If your blooms feel slightly rubbery and quite bendy, they are ready.
- Once they’re done, take your preserved flowers out of the glycerine and air-dry them for a couple of hours.
And suppose you are wondering which flowers will preserve well. In that case, you are pretty spoilt for choice: Magnolias, roses, marigold, ranunculus, gerberas, hydrangeas and even lavender and jasmine will all look stunning and give you an incredible range of happy colours and lovely shapes.
A word of caution: Make sure the glycerine and your treated flowers are out of reach for children and pets. They must not be able to lick or ingest it.
Where glycerine is the solution to eternal youth, air-drying is the answer to ageing gracefully.
A few simple steps here will give you dried blooms for exquisite, fuss-free flower arrangements or crafty presents.
- Catch your flowers when they are still in prime condition and before they are fully open.
- Cut their stems neatly, get rid of extra foliage, then hang them upside down in a dry, cool space and out of humidity.
- Depending on your flower choice, the drying process can take anything between a few days and a couple of weeks. Flowers will be ready when the petals feel dry to the touch.
- Dried blooms are delicate creatures. Consider spraying them lightly with hairspray to keep them looking their best for longer.
We are really fortunate in Australia with our native flora. Banksia, the Australian Mulla Mulla or Eucalyptus are absolute stunners in dried floral arrangements. If it is potpourris or bath salts you are creating, think lavender, herbs, cornflowers and roses.
Now that you’ve got your dried or preserved flowers looking their best, let’s look at some creative ideas about what to do with your precious petals.
The simplest yet best way to showcase your preserved flowers is to keep them in a vase - no water needed - in your favourite spot. They look so real; you’ll likely have guests quietly checking their petals.
Preserved blooms can cope with some humidity but keep them out of sunlight and definitely out of reach of little hands and paws.
Dried flowers, on the other hand, give you a few more options. They continue to be all the rage for sculptural large floral pieces at events and interior design. But even a simple small arrangement of dried roses, hydrangeas, even a sprig of eucalyptus can add a touch of natural, cozy chic to a room.
Just using dried petals opens up a whole new world of possibilities again. Treat yourself or a loved one to a luxurious bath salt infused with your favourite dried flowers. Or how about lavender sachets to help you relax and sleep well? Even just a couple of sprigs of lavender on your bedside table will make a difference.
For more creative ideas, have a look at our flower post. You’ll find trendy tips for your home, what to do with lavender, the low-down on pampas grass and much, much more.
But before you go, have a look at this video on floral arrangements. We loved the simplicity of the approach and thought the outcomes were little masterpieces.
A final word
Maybe you want to experiment with flowers from your garden or keep that special bunch of blooms for that little bit longer. Perhaps DIY is not your thing, and you are looking for the finished product at Flowers Across Australia to brighten up your day. Whichever way you go about it, it doesn’t matter; we are just happy you are here. Flowers will always add a bit of sunshine and happiness to your life. And instead of having to bin your fresh bunch of bloom after a week or two, preserved or dried flowers will be with you for up to two to three years - fuss-free happiness!
So, if we’ve given you some new insights and inspiration and sparked your imagination, then that’s great. If you still have questions, then get in touch with us. If you liked this article, share it. And if you’ve created your masterpiece with dried or preserved flowers, then let us know! Send in a photo, add a comment. We would love to hear from you.