Mary-Anne Da’Marzo of Soho’s preserved flower store, The Last Bunch, shares her trade secrets on creating beautiful dried flowers at home.
The increased popularity of flowering plants like pampas grass on Instagram has created a fascination of alternative flowers, particularly dried flowers or ‘everlastings’ as they’re also known.
According to recent analysis by The Last Bunch, the term ‘dried flowers’ now gets 105,000 searches a month. This trend will continue to grow as people search for alternative beauty with sustainability themes at the heart.
Dried flowers can last for years if cared for correctly, making them the perfect option for those looking to add a pop of colour or texture, that’s both low maintenance and trend-focused.
Since the pandemic, fresh flowers have been harder to get hold of and with global sustainability concerns for both workers and wildlife, the market is having a shake up and dried flowers are everywhere.
Mary-Anne Da'marzo, founder of Soho-based preserved flower shop, The Last Bunch, says:
“With current supply chain shortages and poor growing conditions, there’s now a global shortage of fresh flowers and people are turning to alternatives like dried flowers”.
‘Everlasting roses’ have been around for a while and hat boxes filled with preserved roses are sold by various companies. These brands have started to branch out into everlasting flowers, but roses are still used as the focal point.
So far, Mary-Anne has tested over 300 flower varieties, using ingredients that nobody else can source, to offer their customers flower varieties that they simply can’t get anywhere else.
For their most recent collection, The Last Bunch has partnered with global beekeeper charity, Bees for Development, to create miniature bouquets for bees, or ‘Beequets’.
How to create the most perfect preserved flowers - Mary-Anne shares her tried and tested techniques
The problem with the process of drying out flowers is they often lose their colour and size, they become shrivelled and their once bright tones are swapped for dull, lifeless shades.
Mary-Anne wanted to create unique techniques that essentially ‘freeze’ the flowers from the moment they get the stock in.
The Last Bunch purchase flowers that are just about to be discarded from suppliers and have tried hundreds of methods for preserving flowers with them, below Mary-Anne shares her top tips.
Air-drying flowers requires the least equipment to preserve your flowers. Firstly, remove any flowers from the stem that you do not want to be preserved. Then tie your flowers together with string or an elastic band at the end of the stem and hang them upside down on a hanger, nail or coat hook. For best results keep them out of direct sunlight while drying them as this can affect the colour of your flowers. After 2-4 weeks your flowers will be dried. Regularly check back on your flowers during this time, once your flowers feel rigid and have a gentle rustle they are ready to be taken down and placed in your home.
Another way to preserve your flowers at home is to press them. Firstly, cut the stem of your flowers to the length you would like and find a thick book and place two sheets of wax paper on either side of the pages. Then place your flower at the centre of the open book on the wax paper. Close the book and after 3-4 weeks your flower will be ready to be displayed. Pressed flowers look beautiful placed in a frame and put on the wall. This is a lovely way of having flowers from an important day in your life with you forever.
Silica gel is a quick way of drying your flowers with excellent results. Firstly, trim the stems of your flowers and make sure your flowers are dry. Then, pour the silica gel into an airtight container. Then place the flowers face up in the gel and add more gel in and around the petals but do not drown it. Once you have done this, seal the container and leave it in a dry place. After 2-5 days your flowers will have dehydrated enough to remove from the gel (some larger flowers might need up to 7 days). When the flowers are ready, remove them from the gel and brush off any excess gel from the petals and your flowers are ready to go!
Glycerin is a fantastic way to always keep your flowers looking fresh. The flowers absorb the glycerin replacing the water in the flowers which keeps them looking bright and fresh. Firstly, you want to cut the stems of your flowers and trim some leaves off. Next, you need to cut diagonally across the bottom of the stem and combine one part glycerin and two parts warm water. Then place the stems in this solution and leave for 2-3 weeks. Check your flowers after two weeks and if they feel rubbery then they are ready to come out of the solution. Let your flowers air dry for a few hours and then they are ready to be placed on display for everyone to see.
Freeze drying is exactly how it sounds, you are freezing your flowers. This keeps them the same look and colour as they were when they were fresh. Buying a freeze dryer can be very expensive so if you are looking to do this just once then it would be more useful to take it to a professional company who can do this for you. Freeze-dried flowers take all of the moisture out of the petals and keep them smelling and looking fresh.