Drying and Preserving
Annuals and Perennials
though we've had a pretty hot and dry summer, many southern
flower gardens are absolutely magnificent this time of year.
Unfortunately, it all too quickly fades and is gone. Fortunately,
there are lots of ways to dry and preserve many of the flowers
we've enjoyed all summer and be able to enjoy them inside
in arrangements and decorations.
One of the easiest methods of drying many of our annual
and perennial flowers especially those with tough, woody
flowers is very simple. Just cut the stem at a 45 degree
angle with as much stem as possible and tie the bundle upside
down in a dark, warm, dry, well ventilated place. My mother
always hung them above the refrigerator but there are lots
of other places as well. Don't wash off the flowers as you'll
encourage fungus to grow on the flowers. It is best to cut
the flowers when the buds are about half open. The following
flowers preserve well if they're hung in this manner. Yarrow,
Amaranthus, Artemesia, Celosia, Echinops, Gypsophila, Helichrysum,
Another strategy for preserving flowers with more moisture
in their petals uses borax and white cornmeal. Use a ratio
of 10 parts white cornmeal and 3 parts borax (which you
can get at any drugstore. Or you can use ¾ borax and ¼ sand.
This mixture can be used over and over again, year after
year so don't throw it away after your flowers are dried.
I like to use a small box and pour a small amount of the
mixture in the bottom. Place the flowers upside down and
make sure you completely cover all flower parts except the
stem. In about 2 weeks, when the stems are dry to the touch,
the flowers can be removed and stored in a dry, well ventilated
area for future use.
The ultimate drying material is silica gel. This is the
same stuff that comes in those small packets when you buy
a new electronic gadget. The silica gel does an excellent
job of absorbing moisture in the air. It is the perfect
material to preserve your flowers and retain their brightness
of color and beauty of form. The material is a little more
expensive than borax and cornstarch but well worth it. Flowers
are placed upside down in the silica gel just like the borax
and cornstarch. The following flowers can be dried with
this method: Butterfly bush, camellia, Clematis, Dahlia,
Lenten Rose, Daffodil, Black-eyed Susan, Roses, Salvia,
Marigold, Veronica, pansies,and zinnias.
Finally, there is one other approach you can use to preserve
foliage with a glycerine and water compound. The leaves
of many woody plants can be preserved if they are properly
conditioned by placing the stems of the branches in a mixture
of 1/3 glycerin, 2/3 water. Again, glycerin can be obtained
from your druggist. The leaves must be completely mature
and in perfect condition when cut. Before placing he ends
of the cut branches into the mixture, the stems should be
crushed with a hammer. The branches are left in this liquid
about 3 weeks or until one can feel the glycerin on the
outer edges of the leaves. The following leaves can be preserved
in this manner: Eucalyptus, Plum, Leucothoe, Barberry, Beech,
Canna, Oak, Rhododendron, Magnolia, Oregon Holly-grape,
Late Blooming Annuals with Steve Mitchell
You can have flowers in the Fall. Steve Mitchell
shows us several
varieties that look great this time of year. Several mentioned
Zinnia "Profusion Cherry," Dianthus "Melody
Pink," Rudbekia "Indian
Summer," Celosia "Cockscomb," Zinnia "Profusion
Augustafolia "Crystal White," Lantana "New
Gold," Parsley and Gumphrena "Bicolor Rose."
Dr. Rick Gives the
Low Down on Petunias
is no other bedding plant that even approaches the petunia
for universal dependability, garden value, and long season
of bloom. Petunias have been around for a long time and
are The word petunia comes from the colloquial for the word
tobacco, to which petunia is related. Notice the leaves
and stems are covered with a fuzzy, sticky substance similar
to the larger nicotiana and the agronomic tobacco.
Petunias were originally from South America, but now we
are seeing varieties being developed all over the world.
And, there are hundreds and hundreds of varieties, but many
of which are very unsuited for southern gardens. For years,
petunias just got beat up by the heat and sun here in our
part of the country. By the middle of the summer, they look
washed out, bedraggled and spent. However, over the past
few years there have been some remarkable work done in terms
of breeding. We now have Petunias for the heat.
Here's a great one. This is Purple Wave Petunia and it will
absolutely knock your socks off as a sun-loving heat aficionado.
Now it is really classified as more of a hanging basket
or prostrate form of petunia as it tends to cascade over
the edge of a pot or creep along the ground. Older varieties
of petunias had to be dead-headed several times a season.
Not these beauties. They're particularly low maintenance.
They do not like wet feet (none of us do) If you're not
familiar with Purple Wave Petunias.
Hydrangeas will overgrow their area and look unsightly.
As well, and just as importantly, Hydrangeas grow on tissue
produced last year. If we prune now at the end of the season,
it allows new tissue to grow and that is where the blooms
will grow next year. If we wait until wintertime we'll have
pretty leaves, but no blooms. To prune, first take away
the dead flower. Then take the stem the flower grew on all
the way back to the center of the plant. After that reduce
the overall plant in size to one that properly fits the
Dressing Up a Planting
Dr. Rick shows us how to make a flower bed look like professionals
been working in our yard.
You will need two types of mulch. Pine Bark Mulch and Pine
the entire space with Pine Bark Mulch, about 2"-3"
inches deep. Then in
a trench around the bed, roll the Pine Straw about 4"-5"
and place in the trench that surrounds the bed. You'll have
organized look and one that holds moisture, yet allows air
Back to Top