Whether you’re looking to preserve your bridal bouquet or another floral arrangement, either in its realistic entirety or for other uses, there are several easy methods that you can do at home to save your special flowers. For best results, you should first assess the condition of your bouquet and whether it’s likely to dry well. For preserving purposes, you want blooms that are less than fully mature so that too many petals will not all be lost in the process. Different types of flowers do better with different processes; air drying does well for roses while lilies would be better pressed.
One new and popular technique is to dry flowers in your microwave. Flowers that preserve well by microwave include gerberas, chrysanthemums, roses, and tulips. You’ll also need a clay-based cat litter, which works to absorb moisture from the bouquet. Place one flower at a time in a microwavable bowl (one that you do not wish to use again for food) covered by four cups of cat litter. Your flowers can mold to the shape of the bowl, so you may wish to support them with an inch or two of silica gel. Microwave each flower for 2-3 minutes. The temperature needed varies by type of bloom, so start with a lower level as you can always add more time and increase the setting. Once cooled, brush off the excess litter.
Another popular preservation technique uses silica gel; simply place your blooms completely covered in a large container of the gel and leave for up to a week. The silica will draw out the moisture and leave flowers that look like they came fresh from the garden. Your flowers can then be displayed as a bouquet (perhaps in a vase), hung on the wall, or framed in a shadowbox.
Pressing your flowers is as easy as placing the individual blooms between parchment or waxed paper within the pages of a large book and leaving sit for 7-10 days. You can then use the pressed flowers for bookmarks, stationary, or in a picture frame. You can also have a bouquet professionally pressed where each bloom is then re-assembled in the silhouette of the original arrangement, a process that can take 8-10 weeks to complete.
Hanging a bouquet upside down may be the absolute easiest method of all. Simply secure the stems and hang the flower bunch in a well-ventilated area (such as an empty closet) out of direct sun for a few weeks. Your bouquet can then be re-used as a centerpiece or the petals can be re-purposed into potpourri.
Flowers such as hydrangeas or baby’s breath can also be dried in a vase. Start with your flowers in water, then let them sit but without watering them. Once the water evaporates, the flowers will be dry, but still upright and perky.
A professional can also freeze-dry your bouquet; this is the most realistic method of preservation. The bouquet is taken apart, freeze-dried, then re-assembled, a process of 3-4 weeks.
Ultimately, you’ll want to decide how you wish to re-use your bouquet, as the best way to preserve it may depend on how you intend to display it or otherwise use the blooms. A professional florist will always be able to advise you on the options and assist you in choosing one that best meets your desires and budget.