Which flowers to choose
Not all floral species are suitable to be dried and transformed into compositions and centerpieces. When you decide to get some, it is therefore best to choose between daisies, lavender, roses, hydrangeas, mimosa, violets, thistles, ornamental garlic, hydrangeas and rushes. The important thing is not to choose succulent plants, or other species that are very beautiful, but contain a lot of water, such as tulips or orchids: the water contained within them makes the drying process very difficult. Indeed, they often rot (precisely because they have a lot of water) before drying out.
A tip: also get sprigs loaded with leaves or berries, which will serve to embellish and make your dried flower compositions unique. For this purpose, ivy sprigs, spikes, aromatic plants, oak leaves and other trees with broad leaves are very suitable (do not choose sprigs of evergreen trees, such as firs). In order to create more articulated compositions, we also recommend the use of moss, which however contains a lot of moisture, and whose drying process is rather slow. Adding pine cones, acorns or other berries will make whatever composition you want to prepare even more beautiful.
Once the species that we want to dry to create our compositions have been chosen, it is necessary to proceed with the collection. Again, there are some rules to follow, for the operation to lead to ultimate success. First of all, the harvest should not be done after a rain or a storm: the flowers we will take will in fact be damp and full of water, which will make the drying process more difficult, and which could even lead them to rot. So choose nice warm days, after a period in which it has not rained. The ideal for this type of operation is late spring: the flowers available are many and of many varieties, and the temperature is suitable for harvesting. Go to pick the flowers preferably in the hottest hours of the afternoon, when the humidity contained inside the flowers is at a minimum. These are also the hours in which the flowers are in full bloom, and the corollas are open: you can thus be sure without any problem of the presence of any lesions or dark spots. It is in fact of fundamental importance to pay attention to the conditions in which the flowers we want to collect are: do not take specimens that have lesions or spots, which could be symptoms of fungal attacks or other pathologies. In the event that one of these is in fact affected by some fungus, it would also transmit it to the others. For harvesting, use scissors (better if gardening): take care to cut the stems at the bottom, leaving them long. This will facilitate the subsequent drying operation.
Once collected, they must be dried. There are several techniques for doing this, and some are suitable for a home environment. The first is the best known, and consists in hanging the flowers downwards. First of all you need to remove the leaves along the stem, and then divide the flowers into small bunches (of about seven or eight flowers each). The bunches must be tied with a straw or raffia thread: this material allows the flowers to be tied tightly without damaging the stems. Bouquets should be hung in a cool, dry room without too much light. Essential is the fact that they are hung upside down: in this way the petals will remain stretched, and it will prevent them from being damaged. Warning: many think that to dry the various types of flowers it is better to expose them to direct sunlight. In reality, this is a wrong procedure, which will ruin the plants, causing them to wilt without drying them. The types of flower thus dried will in fact be unusable for compositions and other uses, because they will be unmanageable.
How to dry the flowers: Drying with sand
The procedure for drying the flowers explained above is undoubtedly the simplest: but if you prefer, it is also possible to dry the species we like most with another system. In this case, you need to get a large box that contains the flowers (preferably tin) and sand (preferably fine). The sand must be placed on the bottom of the box, forming a layer a few centimeters high. The flowers must be placed on top, which must be covered with more sand. The box must then be placed in the sun (or on a radiator) for a couple of days.
For small flowers or loose petals (which can be used to create perfume-linen and put-pourri) another technique is to insert them between the pages of a tightly closed book, which will act as a press and, in a few days, will dry the petals to perfection.