How To Dry Out Dahlias-The Best Preserving Method

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Wondering if you can dry dahlias? You can! Here’s everything you need to know about how to dry out dahlias to preserve their blooms all winter long.

If you like to grow dahlias as I do, I’m sure it’s at least in part because you love their showy blooms. And, if you’re anything like me, the arrival of chilly weather makes you a little sad that you won’t have beautiful fresh dahlias again until the next growing season. 

FYI- I love growing flowers!

At this point, that love has traveled slightly past love and close to obsession territory because I grow a lot of flowers each year and cut fresh blooms for my house nearly every day during the growing season.

I was sad when the summer growing season ended because I knew that I wouldn’t continue to enjoy my fresh flower arrangements. 

That’s when I started exploring how to dry flowers. I wanted to be able to enjoy flowers from my garden even during the cold weather months. So, just in case you want to learn how to do it, too, I’m sharing my tips and tricks with you.

Related Post: How to Dry Rose Petals in Under Two Minutes Flat

Can You Dry Dahlias?

Believe it or not, I have many readers who want to know if and how to dry out their dahlias.

For the record, I’m not talking about drying their bulbs to replant the following spring. Instead, I’m talking about drying their blooms so you can continue enjoying them in your home when it’s cold outside.

So, can you dry dahlias? Yes, you can! And even better, they dry well when you do it properly.

Why do I get asked about dahlias, specifically?

Dahlias have become a trendy modern cut garden flower. As a result, I think there are several reasons that people grow (and preserve) their dahlias:

  • They’re very easy and low-maintenance to grow
  • Large, multi-layered, magnificent blooms
  • Make excellent cut flowers 
  • When done correctly, dahlias dry out and preserve well

I have five different methods that I will use to dry out flowers, and I think that for dahlias’ large beautiful blooms, the best method is to use a drying agent. Drying agents include silica gel (you can find it online or in craft stores), rice, white cornmeal, or borax. 

These agents pull the moisture out of the blooms and other plant tissues but keep the flower color and keep the blooms looking great. I typically use silica gel (my preferred drying agent) and get excellent results. 

How to Dry Out Dahlias

Use this process to dry your dahlias so you can enjoy their blooms for much longer.

Collect Blooms

Here are some tips for collecting the best blooms for drying:

  • Pick any flowers that you want to dry when they are close to their prime at any time during the growing season (it doesn’t just have to be when fall is around the corner). 
  • Try to pick only the flowers with the best shapes because that’s how they’ll dry – the same goes for flowers with poor shapes so avoid using those.
  • Only use flowers that don’t have disease or insect damage as those imperfections will become very obvious after drying your blooms.
  • I recommend collecting more blooms than you think you’ll need to allow for a few to not dry well.

I didn’t use this method for a long time, but once I tried it, I was hooked. I ended up drying so many flowers that I had too many (is that even a thing?). This method creates very realistic paper-looking flowers that even feel like paper.

Note: Make sure to use your gloves and air filter mask when working with silica gel.

  1. Cut your dahlia stems leaving about an inch of stem from the bloom.
  2. Place your blooms face up in a container that’s at least 2 inches taller than your blooms. Don’t use wooden or cardboard containers because moisture can get inside.
  3. Carefully pour silica gel over your flowers until there’s at least an inch or more covering your blooms. Cover your container with a lid or saran wrap to make it airtight and leave it alone in a cool, dark place for 7 days.
  4. When it’s time, remove your flowers very carefully as the petals will be dry and crisp. You could gently pour the silica gel off or remove the blooms with a slotted spoon.
  5. Clean off the flowers with a soft bristle brush to remove any remaining silica gel and dust off the blooms.
  6. Spray your blooms with hairspray or use Modge Podge to seal them and keep moisture out.

 Note: Don’t reuse your silica gel container for food.

Faster Results Using the Microwave

If you don’t want to wait seven days, you can speed up the process with a microwave to get almost instant results.

Here’s how:

  1. Use a glass or oven-proof container.
  2. Preheat an inch of silica gel on high power for one minute.
  3. Place your bloom on the warm crystals then cover it completely with silica gel.
  4. Cook the covered bloom in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, then let it stand in the silica gel for about 25 minutes until the bloom cools off and dries out.
  5. Gently remove your blooms and clean them off with a soft bristle brush to remove any remaining silica gel and dust off the blooms.
  6. Spray your blooms with hairspray or use Modge Podge to seal them and keep moisture out.

The microwave method is also a bit of trial and error. Every microwave is different; every flower will have different moisture levels. The first flower you try to microwave should be one that maybe isn’t your favorite. Save the favorites until you get your method sorted out.

You may need a min more on your microwave, or turn down the power, or even allow the flower to sit for an extra 30 minutes.

Note: Your dahlias may be brittle or break easily if you over-dry them. If this happens, you can use those broken bits to make your homemade potpourri.

How to Press Dahlias

The traditional way to dry flowers is to press them. You can buy or make an effortless flower press with two thin pieces of wood held together with bolts at each corner. Then, stack pieces of cardboard and sheets of unbleached paper in between the wood pieces.

When you add your flowers to your flower press, make sure not to overlap them. It will take about 30 days for your flowers to dry.

Pressing flowers is best for thin or flat flowers. For example, while you can press dahlias, silica gel is a much better method for their large, impressive blooms.

If you decide to press dahlias, try to go for the blooms that are not as condensed toward the center or pom style. The giant dinner plate dahlias will press better, but you need a large enough press and have some patience.

I have used cinder blocks in the past to press larger flowers with some success. I have several layers of cardboard with a few sheets of acid-free paper between the dahlia, and cardboard is all you need, and a bit of weight and some patience. Pressed this way, the dahlias can take up to 6 weeks to dry.

Storing Your Dried Flowers

Store your dried flowers in an airtight container to prevent moisture and insects from ruining them.

Dried flowers won’t last forever. Over time they will fade and possibly break. However, proper drying and storage methods will make them last as long as possible. Discard them when they no longer look the way you want them to.

How to Dry Out Dahlias: Final Thoughts

Drying flowers is an easy and inexpensive way to preserve your beloved garden flowers. For example, if you were wondering how to dry out dahlias, using the method above will yield excellent results that you’ll enjoy for a long time – or at least until you have new dahlias blooming next year!

If you love flowers as much as I do, you should also check out these posts:


    1. You can dry them with the stems on Betsy, so long as the stems are covered well with the silica gel they will dry and preserve the same as the flowers. Cheers!

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