Dried flowers add long-lasting beauty to any decor and can be made into keepsakes for weddings, anniversaries or birthdays. Drying your own flowers at home saves money and allows you to preserve flowers from your garden that otherwise would wither and die. Protea is a large, exotic flower available in many vibrant shades, such as dark pink, blood red, bright yellow and caramel. Once dried, the colours will fade over time, leaving behind tan flowers which look gorgeous in wreaths or bouquets.
Remove all leaves from the stems of three or four Protea flowers. Secure the flowers together with a rubber band wrapped around the bottom of the section of the stems.
Hang the Protea upside down from a wire hanger, using twine or string threaded through the rubber band, around the stems and tied to the hanger.
Place the flowers in a dark, dry location such as a closet or basement. Keep away from direct sunlight or the colours will fade more quickly.
Leave the flowers to dry upside-down for at least two to three weeks, or until completely dry. Gently press a flower petal between your fingers to check for dryness, and if still soft and pliable, continue drying for another week.
Remove the flowers from the hanger. Cut off the rubber band and use the dried flowers as you wish.
Mix one part glycerine (available from pharmacies or craft stores) with two parts water and pour into a vase. There should be about 6 to 8 inches of liquid in the vase.
Strip all the leaves from the bottom half of the Protea stems, leaving two or three leaves on the upper half. Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle so the flowers will absorb the solution better.
Place the cut flowers in the solution in the vase. Leave until you see tiny droplets of glycerine on the leaves, which can take a week or two.
Remove the flowers from the solution and hang upside down to dry, following directions on hang drying. The glycerine solution will make the flowers more supple and less brittle when dried.
Add a 2-inch layer of silica gel (a powder available at craft stores or online resources) to the bottom of a cardboard box. Cut Protea flower stems to about six inches long and, holding the flowers upside down, set the flower heads on top of the silica gel.
Add more silica gel to completely cover the flower heads. Let the flowers set in the box for a couple weeks or until completely dried. Check for dryness by feeling the flower petals between your fingers.
Remove the dried flowers from the silica gel. Gently shake the silica gel off the flowers; use a small, clean paintbrush to brush off any excess.
If using flowers straight from the garden, cut early in the morning. Use pruning shears because the stems are difficult to cut.
Do not put cut flowers in plain water before placing in the glycerine solution.