What to Do with Dead Stuff

I talked a little bit about dried flowers in the Winter 2021 Quarterly (oops, and again in the Winter 2020 issue), but it seems I want to elaborate on the topic again. Dried flowers are still trending, which has to be good for flower farmers everywhere who want to waste less of their flowers and sell more in the off-season. And it’s currently what I call “squirrel season”, the time of year when you want to save, can, store, preserve, and hoard every last bit of everything before winter sets in and it’s all gone for the year. So, I’m currently collecting all my dried bits to get me through winter and I’ve got dried flowers on the brain.

My new discovery of 2020, when I couldn’t seem to make enough time for wreath-making even around the holidays, was to sell curated, themed dried flower boxes. This was not preplanned, so I took what I had dried from the summer and fall and placed them into four color categories, with approximately 8 bunches of dried flowers per collection. Then, of course, I snapped a picture for social media and the website. A key component was to include the caveat that the boxes may contain different flowers than the photo but the color palettes would be the same, providing lots of leeway to get rid of all my dried goods.

The idea behind these boxes was to offer a DIY experience for folks without having to sell each individual bunch. They could make a wreath or a dried arrangement or a wall hanging. I put an insert in the box with a few tips for working with dried flowers and where to get the best supplies, as well as my favorite books and online dried flower inspiration.

As they’re non-perishable, dried flowers are very easy to ship. We launched the dried flower collections in December and they sold well during the holidays, and then surprisingly kept selling throughout the year. We shipped them to many different states and had quite a few repeat customers. We even had a few DIY wedding orders. I LOVE that folks are using dried flowers for weddings. Talk about ultimate sustainability.

This year we decided to go big on growing stuff for drieds, not just taking the leftovers to dry when we have them. It’s really nice to have a big supply in specific colors to offer. There is a lot of interest for these as well from local designers who already buy fresh flowers from us, so this year, finally, I will actually inventory and put together a dried flower availability list (Well, I have been saying that for three years, so we’ll see if it actually happens.).

What I learned this year is how much I love selling the curated boxes, but how annoying it is to put them together a few at a time as orders come in. Sifting through all those totes of dried flowers is annoying and trying to remember what we have and don’t or what to substitute gets old. This year we plan to pre-pack all the dried flower collections, then I will know exactly what we have in inventory which will make online sales really easy. They will be ready to ship out as needed with the only work being to print shipping labels. Next year I want to perfect my crop plan specifically with these curated boxes in mind.

Below is the insert verbiage I include with my dried flowers. I know how much work it can be to put your ideas onto paper when you’re busy, so feel free to copy any part of this text and adjust to your own needs. I love a good copy and paste when it fits. If you’re doing anything unique with drieds I would love to hear about it—please get in touch!

Left to right - Winter Skies Box, The Neutral Box, The Berry Box, and Southwest Sunrise Box

All the Details on Your Dried Flower Collection

Thank you so much for purchasing our dried flower collection. While I am sure you have plenty of ideas for how to use these dried flowers yourself, I thought I would share a few of mine with you.

  • Wreaths. These are so fun to make in so many different styles and they make great gifts.
  • Vase arrangements from tiny to large placed anywhere around your house (dining table, bathroom, altars, bedside, you get the idea). Use a ball of chicken wire taped to your container if they are top-heavy and having a hard time staying put.
  • Dried flower greeting cards. Make two parallel cuts one inch long and a few inches apart in the center of a blank card and insert a mini bundle of dried flowers in the slot. These don’t work well to mail in an envelope, but they are fun to gift if passed off by hand, or mailed inside a box.
  • Present toppers.
  • Fairy houses.
  • Swags or bundles hung on the wall. They look great hung upside down, just like you would to dry them.
  • To decorate macramé and other crafts.

I have found that dried flowers can be very brittle and are sometimes challenging to work with. If you are making wreaths or otherwise need to manipulate the stems and you find them breaking on you or the petals shatter, I suggest adding a little moisture. Spritz lightly with a spray bottle of water and wait a bit for them to hydrate. Or put them in a refrigerator overnight and allow them to take in some moisture before you work with them. They will dry out again in about a day and be perfectly good. Hair spray also works well as a sealant. It’s a good way to help things stick and stay together for the long haul; you can spray it on your arrangement once it’s finished. I don’t use it (because I don’t seem to have any in the house) but I have heard it works well.

Dried flowers will stay their best the longest if kept out of direct sunlight and stored inside. They will last for at least a few years if taken care of; the hardest part is keeping the dust off of them over time. Maybe a little compressed air or a blow dryer will work if they get really dusty. Personally, when my dried flowers get dusty they just match the rest of my house!

If you need some inspiration on how to make a wreath or what to do with dried flowers, check out these sources:

The book Everlastings by Bex Partridge.

Online wreath-making tutorial videos from www.3porchfarm.com and www.sunnymeadowsflowerfarm.com.
@wreathroom on Instagram has some great tutorials saved in their story highlights. I also love following these accounts on Instagram for dried flower and wreath inspiration @fielddaycreative, @borealblooms, @botanical_tales, and @swallowsanddamsons.

Natural wreath bases can be foraged from wild grapevine, willow, or a number of other plant materials. Pre-made grapevine bases can be found on Amazon or at your local craft store. Brass wreath bases are available on Macramé Superstore (pepperell.com).

My favorite way to bind material to the wreath base is with Oasis bind wire or floral paddle wire, both available at craft stores or online. A hot glue gun is your best friend when you need to attach something that doesn’t have a stem or want to cover up a bald spot on a wreath.

I hope you love your dried flowers and thanks for your support. We would love to see what you make: tag us on social media @whipstonefarm and #whattodowithdeadstuff

Shanti Rade

Whipstone Farm

Contact her at [email protected]