Dried plants and dried flowers are midway for people who cannot afford gardens or costly fresh flowers and artifical flowers or plants for decoration. The household woman will get immense satisfaction, if she can nurture the hobby of making these dried flowers and plants, and then decorate her home. But few are aware of the type of plants and flowers to select for drying and the methods of drying while retaining the original beauty without much loss of color or shape.
Agrostis: Two commonly grown grass species are Agrostis nebulosa (also called cloud grass) and Agrostis pulchella, are annuals and can be grown easily in pots through seeds. They grow to about 10-12 inches in height, and have panicles which present a misty cloud effect.
Avena: This oat species can be an important attraction to floral arrangements when dried. It is usually grown as an annual and is a popular ornamental grass.
Pennisetum: Many species of this grass are extremely decorative grassesn for floral artwork, but are suited to greenhouse and conservatory decoration. These have a long long inflorescence consisting of white or purplich bristles.
Triticum: This ordinary wheat species has well known spikes which are valued for their decoratory attraction and the dried panicles are often used in floral arrangements for harvest festivals.The most suited species of this class is Triticum spelta, which is a hardy annual and grows upto 2 feet tall.
Hordeum: This is commonly known as barley or squirrel tail grass. It is easily raised from seed as a hardy annual and grows about 12 inches in height.
Phalaris: The species Phalaris arundinacea pitca is a beautiful variegated perennial for the herbaceous border.The leaves are striped white and green and the panicles are greenish purple. It grows about 3-5 feet high and has short inflorescences colored green, white and purple.
Method of Drying: The fresh leaves are dipped in 50% glycerine solution for a few days before drying under sheets of paper or in folds of a thick carpet. Glycerine helps to make the leaves more flexible and increases the durability of dried plants. A fair number of flowers have inbuilt property to retain shape and color very well after ordinary drying. The flowers should be picked up when they are just opened, and hanging them upside down until they are absolutely dry. The cut stems are dried upside down so that they maintain an erect rigidity when subsequently used for decoration and stems have stiffened. For floral art work it may sometimes be advantageous to dry a few stems so that they give curved lines to an arrangement.
Ravikumar Uppaluri is from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh State in India.The author Holds a Masters degree in Agricultural Sciences and is cofounder of an organization involved in Nature conservation and sustainable development. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org