The modern trend is toward natural florals. These can be found in the dried floral arrangements. Freeze drying produces a dried floral with more natural color and form than an air dried floral. Freeze-dried florals are becoming more prevalent on the market place. These are preferred to the air and chemical dried variety because the florals maintain a better shape and color and generally are not quite as brittle as their counterparts that are air dried.
In addition to florals freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are commercially available to enhance your arrangements.
Freeze dried materials should be thought of as fresh but with an extended life. They are not indestructible and can be harmed by bright light and humidity. It is not possible to predict the exact length of time these freeze-dried products can be displayed. They will lose color before they lose shape and could conceivable last for a period up to 2 years under the right conditions.
Freeze-drying is a complicated process and fairly expensive so is not available to the home crafter. Although it is greatly to be desired freeze-dried florals must be purchased and as a general rule are not inexpensive. Drying flowers at home from your garden must of necessity be air dried or Silica dried (some with the assistance of the microwave).
Air drying botanicals is a simple process. Rather than picking the flowers early in the morning they are cut after the sun has dried any dew. The stems are cut slightly longer than you will need them and a bunch is formed near the end of the stem using a rubber band that will shrink as the material dries. These bunches should be fairly loose and open and are hung stem up in an open area out of direct sunlight. Good air circulation should be maintained in the drying location. A garage, shed or attic make a good drying area. Lines are strung and the bunches of material hung along the lines for a period of two weeks or more, A two week drying time is usually minimum but the natural humidity in the area can extend the drying time even longer. The thickest portions of the plant will be dry and brittle before the plant material is ready to use in an arrangement.
With Silica follow the directions on the package. Some of these commercial preparations allow the use of the microwave to speed drying. As a general rule these are used for flower heads rather than the entire plant material as with the air dried.
In arrangements fresh, silk and dried flowers are interchangeable. As a general rule when using dried material the entire arrangement is of dried material. With a fresh flower arrangement all components are fresh and when using silk all components are silk.
Make sure your container is leak proof and is off a size to comfortably fit the arrangement you are planning.
The floral foam Oasis should be pre-soaked in the same flower preservative solution as your floral materials. The floral foam is easier to cut when wet so trim to fit the shape of your container after it has been soaking.
If your vase is too short for the flowers (or the flowers too tall for the vase) you will have trouble with the floral material standing up. To prevent this your vase should be approximately half as tall as the tallest flowers. Mechanics can also be used, such as skewers or wires, to brace the florals if the container you wish to use is too short to naturally hold the flowers upright.
Another method to contain the flowers is to form a crisscross grid of clear water proof tape inserting the flower stems within the grid to hold them in place.
If some of the stems have been cut too short the addition of pebbles or marbles to the vase will allow the shorter stems to be used. Flower heads that are broken from the stems can be floated on the surface of a bowl of water.
Watering an arrangement (or house plants) can easily
be achieved using a kitchen bulb type baster to prevent spills.
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