Dried Florals Are the It Plant of 2019—Here’s How to Use Them at Home
Think beyond weddings.
Updated Aug 19, 2019 4:38 PM
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Our year began with pampas grass. With its feathery plumes and poetic movement, the towering plant fast replaced our obsession with hard-to-care-for greens (looking at you, Fiddle Leaf Fig) was eventually deemed the favorite houseplant of 2018. Little did we know that pampas grass was only setting the stage for an equally photogenic—but extremely more convenient—bloom that requires no care at all.
Factually speaking, there’s nothing “fresh” about dried and aged flowers. What is new, however, are all the lively ways leading florists and plant visionaries are incorporating preserved blooms into the home. In lieu of juicy, bountiful arrangements, Felisa Funes, the L.A.-based florist who created the arrangements for Mandy Moore’s boho backyard wedding, is testing the limits of aged flowers. Her big prediction for 2019? Dried baby’s breath and wispy aged arrangements are going to be everywhere—beyond the wedding circuit.
To get the lowdown on this budding trend, we asked two floral enthusiasts to lend their voices to the conversation. Ahead, Anna Potter of Swallows and Damsons and Maggie Coker, a botanical stylist based in Berlin, share their tips for picking, preserving, and decorating with dried flowers.
What to Look For
Some flowers, like hydrangea and lavender, will look beautiful and hold their color and shape as they dry naturally. In most cases, however, it’s best to choose flowers that haven’t fully matured. If you wait until a flower has completely opened to begin drying, it’s likely that you’ll lose some petals along the way.
“I prefer to dry flowers that already have a little moisture in them so they retain their shape and color very well and fade into beautiful muted tones,” says Potter.
Varieties to Consider
“Roses are the obvious classics,” shares Coker. “But my absolute favorite is lunaria.” Also known as the honest flower or silver dollar plant, this flower’s shiny, coin-like petals give it a stunning, reflective quality. “I also like dried peonies for their vibrant colors and shape,” adds Coker.
Potter’s go-to list includes: strawflowers, waxflowers, heather, limonium, seed heads, Brunia, craspedia, bracken, and ferns. When creating arrangements, the UK-based designer sets out to create visually dynamic displays that incorporate juxtaposing textures. “I love fluffy seed heads and grasses mixed with more delicate, papery petals,” shares Potter. “Also, tufts of old man’s beard and smoke bush plumes mixed with delicate strawflowers.”
Generally, strong candidates for drying are those that hold their petals tightly and have a calyx— or a small ring of green leaves that enclose the base of the bud. “I love experimenting with all types of flowers, but not all flowers want to be dried,” suggests Coker.
How to Dry
Part of the beauty of dried flowers is that they take longer to fabricate and lessen our footprint on the planet. While dried florals require less upkeep than say, the notoriously easy-to-care-for snake plant, the preservation process isn’t as simple as waiting for the freshly picked bunch on your coffee table to shrivel up. When you wait too long for the buds to open, you risk the chance of losing petals.
If you’re planning on pulling flowers from a garden, cut the ones you want just after the morning dew has dried and take them inside. The most natural way to dry flowers is to tie small bundles together with string and hang them upside down in a cool and dark room. While different varieties take longer to complete the process, you’ll know they’re done when they’re completely stiff.
How to Decorate
Before your start peppering every accent table, empty shelf, and lonesome corner in your home with wispy arrangements of dehydrated strawflowers and crisp baby’s breath, you’ll want to think twice about foot traffic and potential sun exposure.
“Dried flowers are fragile,” reminds Coker. “Don’t put them in a place where they can easily be knocked about. Remember: If you have them in direct sunlight, the color will fade over time.”
DIY an everlasting wreath
One of Potter’s favorite ways to display dried flowers is by assembling various varieties in a wreath. “Whether they be tiny and delicate or larger and wild, when tied with a velvet ribbon, it really highlights all the different textures,” she tells Domino.
Blogger Jasmine Dowling’s wintry wreath uses a brass hoop as the base for an asymmetrical arrangement of aged white foliage of varied sizes.
Or, a forever wall hanging
In this Portland nursery from 100 Layer Cakelet, a triangle floral hanging by Selva Floral Design presides over the changing station. Now an everlasting keepsake, the sweet addition of small pink flowers brings new meaning to a standard decorative accent.
Capture your creations in glass
“Another option is to create a small arrangement on a florists pin holder or flower frog and place it under glass. Having a dried arrangement in a glass cloche transforms it into a little piece of art; like a specimen from a natural history museum,” says Potter.
Add herbs to the gallery wall
Sage, thyme, and pepper don’t just add a sense of calm to Coker’s plant-filled home—they add an intoxicating aroma as well. Whether hung from the ceiling, placed in a vase on the vanity, or taped to the wall, quintessential cooking staples can be reborn as works of art when mixed in with existing pieces.
Group by style
“I love to incorporate dried flowers by theme,” explains Coker. “For example, I have a tropical vibe in my hallway, so the tall palm leaves are perfect.” Mixed in with rattan accents and hits of jade green, soaring palm leaves and smaller dried flowers that hang from baskets and bags blend right in with Coker’s sherbert orange walls.
Discover more ways to decorate with plants:
Unexpected Ways to Display Your Plants
You Have to See These Wild, Colorful Flower Arrangements