Once clean and dried, it’s time to bundle your plants by their stems. A thick rubber band gradually tightens as the stems dry and shrink, making sure they hold together tightly the whole time. While plants dry, keep them in the dark to preserve color. Make sure there is good air circulation to speed the process particularly in humid areas. Where there is further insect concern during drying, just cover each bundle in fine petticoat netting until dry.
For all the bits and pieces left over from your garden, wash and dry these on a salvaged window screen. Put it in the rafters to stay out of the wind and out of the way for the short time these take to dry. This brings all your plants and flowers into your own personal tea and potpourri gifts made from a “salad” of dried materials accented with a few drops of essential oil.
If you love this late season drying of your declining garden flowers, consider planting everlasting annual statice and strawflowers next year. Both grow easily from seed and are widely available. These are the traditional dried flowers used in so many kinds of arrangements you buy at the store.
TIP: Put whole bay leaves into your packages of dried plants to keep pantry moths away.
Since the founding of this country, gardeners and rural women have practiced the skill of drying plants for winter. Back then she knew it would be a long and dark season in her house with natural dyes, handspun and candlelight. So when she could have dried flower arrangements in January, they chased away the melancholy of those cold dark days after the lights of Christmas fade.
Maureen Gilmer is an author, horticulturist and landscape designer. Learn more at www.MoPlants.com