Valentine’s Day, in all its pink glory, is here and though the thought behind those bouquets is still warm in our hearts, we know their time is precious.
If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking to add to your repitoire of Magickal items. I have the worst luck growing plants (probably because I forget to water them, or remember to too many times), so my herbal cabinet is full of gifted and collected herbs that I’ve preserved for Magickal Uses.
Valentine’s day is perfect to restock a few flower essentials and I’ve been known to go to the grocery store the few days after the lovey holiday to collect bouquets at a discount. I feel like I’m saving them from a tortured death of being unloved!
Roses are especially great to get in bouquets because they’re adaptable in that they represent all types of love- and can be used in anything from your typical love spell to protection magick. Since they’re often difficult to grow (for me, they’d be near impossible) and I’m a thrifty witch, saving them from dying in a bin at a grocery store makes sense.
Today, I’ll show you three ways you can dry and save your Valentine’s bouquets for your magickal apothocary. These ways apply to all herbs, but since I found Roses on sale- I thought it’d be fitting for this Holiday.
Firstly, and most obviously, gather your flowers (or herbs). It’s important to inspect your flowers for rot before drying, as the condition of the flower will determine the best way to handle them.
For flowers that are vibrant and still perky- the first two methods are perfect. However, for flowers that are starting to show some wilting, or even the tell-tale signs of death, the last method would be best (and I’ll explain why later).
The most important thing to remember when drying flowers or herbs is that it’s not a fast process. No matter which method you use, it will take time and that time will vary depending on many many things.
Method 1) Dehydrator
This method is my personal favorite, and is the fastest of all of them. An entire bouquet of flowers is dry and ready to use within 72 hours if you keep the flowers in tact. Removing the petals and drying them individually significantly reduces the drying time.
I personally, like to keep the flowers whole- when possible- if they’ve been given to me as a gift. I love the idea of preserving the love that went into the person choosing them for me, and for some reason, tearing the petals off just doesn’t hold the same romantic notion.
However, if I’ve bought the flowers myself, like I did with a few of these bouquets below, I have no problem playing ‘does he love me, does he love me not” and drying the individual petals.
My Dehydrator was a Thrift Store find and it’s been well-used ever since.
As all deydrators vary, you’ll need to experiment and keep an eye on your flowers throughout their drying process.
First, decide how you will preserve your flowers. Entire Flowers, or just the petals?
Next, trim down your flowers to the desired finished product. Some like to keep the stems and sepals (the leaves immediately under the rose)- others don’t. It’s entirely up to your preference, as I’ve dried them both ways, and will not change anything but the finished product.
Then, place them on the trays of your dehydrator. As air flow is essential to the process of drying with this tool, it’s necessary to make sure your flowers (or petals) have ample space between them. I’ve learned the hard way that grouping them too closely will not only delay the drying process, it can fuse the dried herbs together. This isn’t a big deal if you plan to crush them, but if you’re wanting to preserve their shape- it can be a pain to find that your long awaited herbs are now this weird looking blob of craziness.
Finally, stack your trays and turn on your dehydrator- depending on the settings, your temperatures or times may vary. I usually leave mine on the lowest setting for a few days, rotating the trays every 12 hours or so. It can take anywhere from 24 hours to an entire week to dry a dozen roses.
Note: You dry almost anything in a dehydrator, but use caution as the oils and spores from everything you dehyrdate does circulate throughout the immediate vicinity. I once dehydrated hyacinths, and couldn’t walk into The Craft Room without my eyes burning!
Other ways to use your dehydrator for your Magickal Apothecary
Fruit (Oranges are great for protection magicks)
Herbs (grown or bought)
Method 2) The Oven
This method is a two-step process, and can be used with a conventional oven or a toaster oven.
With this process, it’s best to preserve the flowers as petals, but you can still use the entire flower if you’d like- it just takes a lot longer.
As with the Dehydrator method, trim your flowers to their desired shape- cutting stems, thorns, or leaves off at your discretion.
Set your oven to it’s lowest temperature- which is usually around 150F.
Place your petals or flowers on parchment paper neatly- with ample space around each one.
Put into oven for several hours. This process varies with the oven, and the type of flower.
For my roses, I kept them in for about _ hours before removing them.
After they’ve “cooked” in the oven, take them out and let them cool. Carefully place onto papertowels and let them sit for a few days up to a week.
The oven removes most of the moisture, but in order to store the petals or flowers without growing mold, you must make sure all the water is out of the flowers! I’ve ruined quite a few batches by prematurely storing them without making sure they’re completely dry.
You can skip the oven all together, and leave the flowers (fruit, peppers, etc) on paper towels in an area they won’t be disturbed. They will dry in a few weeks very similar to Method 3 below, however, due the way that the nutrients feed the entire plant even while drying, the color will be less vibrant and the shape will flatten. I use this method for bell peppers (great for fertility spells) especially as you can’t hang them, and putting them into the dehydrator makes my eyes water.
Method 3) Hanging
This method is the simplest, and great for those flowers that have lost their vibrancy but are still pretty enough to preserve.
Unlike the other two methods, you don’t want to trim the stems. However, you do want to trim any leaves or buds you don’t want to preserve. The more you remove, the more color and vibrancy your flowers will retain in the drying process.
Next, you’ll want to find a cool, dry, and dark place for you flowers to hang. I use the closet in The Craft Room and a hook.
At first, it’s not important how much space you give the flowers, as they’re still living off the nutrients in the stems. You’ll want to hang them upside down as this allows gravity to pull all those remaining life-giving elements of the stems into the flower (this is why we remove the leaves and such that we don’t want).
If you’re wanting to keep their shape, you can separate them after a week or two. I am a lazy witch, and leave them bundled the way they came from the store the entire time. They’re still beautiful, but they do close up a bit due to the close proximity to the other roses. However, for my purposes, they’re prefect.
This process can take weeks, but in my opinion, it yields the best product. Not to mention, it’s low maintenance and costs nothing (especially if you’re ethically harvesting wild flowers)!
Note: you can also use this method for drying herbs. Just trim the excess off, hang upside down in a dark place, and let sit. If you don’t have a cool, dark, place- hang the herbs or flowers inside a paper bag upside down. Not only will the bag provide shade, it’ll soak up moisture too.
You can also use dessicant, the microwave, or pressing flowers to preserve your bouquets, but I rarely (if ever) use these methods. Pressing flowers is great if you want to make an art piece, or you need an entire flower (stem and all) for a spell, but I’ve had very little luck with pressing. It usually ends up a liquid mess- which probably means I’m adding too much weight. My microwave is 1250 W and it takes too much experimentation to get the times right with even lower wattage microwaves- instead of ruining batchs of flowers to get a quick dry, I’ll just spend the extra time and do it the “easy” way.
What way do you like to dry your flowers and herbs? What other recommendations would you give for magickal items you could dry in a dehydrator- as I’m always looking to make magick out of the mundane!!
Until next time, my friend…