Orchids are known for being difficult to keep alive and preserve. They can be somewhat tempermental in their environmental needs, and it takes a very patient and attentive plant lover to nurture an orchid to the point of cultivating flowers.
Once conditions are ideal enough for an orchid plant to bloom, many plant lovers preserve orchid flowers by air drying them. Dried orchid flowers can be used in shadow boxes, vases, baskets, and plaques. Preserve the natural luminosity and beauty of orchid flowers by drying and preserving them, and you will enjoy them for months or perhaps even years.
Step 1 - Select the Flowers
Orchids come in many varieties, but they all have blossoms that are different size variations on the same four-petal shape. When selecting blossoms for drying, orchids should be harvested at midday and the peak of the growing season. This is the time when the flowers will have collected the least amount of food and water, yet show the most mature growth. Flowers picked at this stage should not be at full bloom but just prior to maturation.
Step 2 - Gel Powder Coating
Cut all but one inch of the stem from the flower with pruning shears. Place the flowers with attached stems into an airtight container with silica gel covering the plant material. Seal the container and check after two days to see that the flowers have retained their shape sufficiently. If the flowers have "set," or the shape has hardened, proceed to hanging them.
Step 3 - Wiring
Wrap the wire around the stem and base of the blossom securely so that the stem retains its shape. Tie stems of flowers into loose bunches and secure with twist ties. Then secure the bunches upside down to the hanger with space between bunches for air circulation. The wire and twist ties should not be so tight as to cut off part of the stem from the rest of the flower. However, they should provide structure for the drying flower and stem that will loose shape and shrink slightly as they dry.
Step 4 - Hanging
Hang the flowers upside down in a cool, dry, well-ventilated room. Orchids usually take one month to fully air dry. If silicate powder has been used, they may be completely dry in two weeks. However, it is advisable to leave them longer, rather than a shorter amount of time because orchids can wilt and become moldy if not processed correctly.
Step 5 - Arranging
After your orchids have been preserved, remove them from the hanger and place them in arrangements or displays. To clean dried orchids, some light dusting should be all that is necessary.
Step 6 - Preserve
Air dried flowers that are not preserved using some additional method such as silica gel, or aerosol spray will shatter as they age. Seal the dried blossoms with a gel or aerosol application to preserve them in lasting fashion that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Now you can marvel your handwork for years to come. Your beautifully dried orchid will provide beauty to any room, even if you forget to water it!