Hibiscus flowers are very beautiful, but wither very quickly once they are picked. Fortunately, there is a way to dry them so that they retain their shape and color longer. With the right technique, you may even be able to use the dried flower to make tea and cosmetics. Hibiscus is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals, and some people believe it aids digestion, improves cholesterol levels, and increases metabolic rate.
Method 1 of 3: Dry the hibiscus flowers with silica gel for a craft project
Step 1. Cut the stems of the flowers
Try to leave about a 1cm end at the bottom of the flower for easier handling. It is important to use a flower that is completely dry, with no holes or bruises.
Do not follow this method if you intend to use the flowers for food, drink, or cosmetics. In fact, the silica gel that you are going to use will make them unfit for consumption
Step 2. Pour 3 cm of silica gel into a plastic or glass container
You will need to choose a large and deep container so that the flower can rest well in it. However, if you want to dry more than one flower, be sure to choose a larger, deeper container that can hold them all, so that the petals of each flower do not touch each other. After placing them, fill it with about 3 cm of silica gel.
- You can find silica gel in the gardening section of a craft store. Despite its name which suggests that it is a liquid, know that it is a white powder.
- The space to be left between each flower does not have to be exact. All you have to do is make sure the petals don't touch each other.
Step 3. Try to place the flower stem in the silica gel first
The 1cm end that you left when you cut the stem (pedicel) will allow the flower to remain stable in an upright position on the gel while it is drying. It is therefore important that the base of the petals touch the powder.
Step 4. Cover the flower with more silica gel
Gently pour the substance on and around the flowers so as not to crush the petals. Keep adding more until they are completely covered. The ideal is to have a layer of about 3 cm of silica gel on top of the flower.
Step 5. Close the container
Then let the flowers sit for about two to six days. It is necessary to seal the container tightly to prevent moisture ingress in order for the silica gel to work effectively. Then place the pot in a safe place where it will not accidentally fall off, as this may damage the flowers. Also, this place should be dry, dark and free of moisture. For example, you could put it in a closet.
Take a look at your flowers after they've passed two days. If they haven't dried well, cover it again with the gel and let them dry longer
Step 6. Remove the flowers from the gel
After a maximum of six days, open the jar and discard some of the gel, to expose them. After that, gently take them out with your fingers, taking care to take them from the bottom so as not to damage them, as they will be very delicate in these conditions.
Step 7. Dust the excess silica gel from your flowers
Use a soft bristle brush to do this. The ideal would be to use a brush made with camel hair. In other words, you should avoid brushes with stiff bristles, as they could ruin the flower. Clean them gently to remove any excess powder that may be present on the petals.
If you're worried that it might tear, place a drop of liquid white glue that dries and then becomes transparent (like Pritt White Glue) in the middle of the flower to support it
Step 8. Use the dried flowers for making crafts
You can glue them on a box or card or place them on a candle. If you don't like the shape of your flowers, consider placing them in a potpourri bowl.
Do not use these flowers for making soap, teas, or makeup, as the silica gel will make them unsuitable for consumption and cosmetic use
Method 2 of 3: Dry outdoor hibiscus flowers
Step 1. Try to find hibiscus treated without pesticides
You should take this precaution if you intend to use them as an edible or cosmetic, especially since it is virtually impossible to remove all of the pesticide from the petals with water. For the best flavor, use the hibiscus sabdariffa variety, also known as guinea sorrel or roselle. If the idea is to use them for craft projects, they don't need to be pesticide free.
Step 2. Pick the flowers and remove the stamens
Pick them one by one and put them in a bowl or basket. When the container is full, remove the stamens of the flowers which are the yellow part in the middle. To make the process easier, do not cut the pedicel (the stem bearing the flowers).
With 8-10 flowers, you can brew a cup of tea
Step 3. Soak the flowers in water
Do this with a view to ridding them of dirt and bugs present. Fill a large bowl with clean water and immerse it one flower at a time, shaking it lightly to clean it well. Then remove it and let it dry. The action of shaking them will make it possible to dislodge the dirt trapped on the corola (set of petals) and the calyx (set of sepals) often green.
In case there are any insects on the plant, be sure to move the petals and sepals out of the way when you immerse the flower in the water
Step 4. Lay the flowers out on an iron rack to dry them
This can be the rack used to cool baked goods. You could also use a small, clean aluminum mosquito net as a drying rack. Otherwise, you can use a baking sheet.
Step 5. Tie the flowers to the grids with fine wire if it is very windy
It will suffice to place the thread over the flowers and pass it through the grids, so that it is firm enough to hold them in place, but loose enough not to crush them.
- Arrange the flowers at an angle below the wire. In this way, the thread will pass between the petals.
- You have the option of using whatever type of wire you want. For example, you could use metallic thread or floral thread or even polyester thread as long as it is strong.
Step 6. Expose the flowers to sunlight
But, you should take the trouble to bring them in at night. Do this daily until they dry completely, shrink a bit, and become brittle. The time it takes for this to happen will depend on the state of the atmosphere (dry or humid) and the intensity of the sun. However, you should wait at least about 3 days to see the effects you want.
- It is essential to bring the flowers in at night, otherwise the morning dew will reverse the drying process.
- Leave them in the driest, sunniest spot on your balcony, patio or garden.
- Examine them once or twice daily until they are dry. If you find that they have only dried on one side, turn them over.
Step 7. Use eight to ten flowers to make a cup of tea
Put this amount of dried hibiscus in a kettle. If you want, you can add flavoring to it and fill the pot with boiling water. Let the leaves steep for about twenty minutes and strain the liquid. If you want, you can sweeten your tea with honey and serve it hot or cold.
- For a sweeter taste, add a pinch of cinnamon and a slice of orange zest.
- If you want a more refreshing drink, add a mint leaf and a slice of orange zest.
- If you want it to taste sour, add a little lemon juice just before serving.
Step 8. Reduce them to powder
Do this if you want to use them as a cosmetic. Grind the petals using a blender to reduce them to a fine powder. After that, pour the powder into a jar through a fine mesh sieve to get an even finer texture. Close your jar and use the powder as you like.
- Now you can add the petals to homemade cosmetics such as blush, lip gloss, and hair masks.
- You also have the option of grinding the flowers in a food processor, a coffee grinder or a mortar with a pestle.
Step 9. Use the dried flowers for cooking
In this way, you can give even more color and flavor to your dishes. Add them to your recipes just like you would other edible flowers like roses or violets. As an example, you can use them to make meringues or sugar syrup. You can also use them in marinades, especially for lamb.
Method 3 of 3: Dry the calyx of the hibiscus flowers to make tea
Step 1. Buy organic roselle flowers
After that, try to find the chalice. There are many varieties of hibiscus flowers, but guinea sorrel tastes the best. The calyx is the green, trumpet-shaped structure that sits at the base of the flower and eventually turns red and brittle.
- It is essential that the flowers are pesticide free if you intend to use them for making tea. They don't need to be, if the idea is to use them for craft projects.
- You can also try this method for real flowers, but you will need to adjust the drying time accordingly.
Step 2. Remove the calyx 24 to 48 hours after flowering
In this method, timing is very important. First of all, you need to find some hibiscus that are about to bloom and wait for the flowers to drop. Find the chalice, which should already be red, and remove it after 24 to 48 hours. This way you will be sure that it is ripe.
The calyx should be able to detach from the pedicel very easily. If you have to pull it out "with force", be aware that it is not sufficiently ripe. In this case, try again the next day
Step 3. Remove the pod from the chalice
Start by removing the calyx from the pedicel and the rest of the flower. Then make a shallow cut along the chalice. Open it with your fingers and remove the pod, trying to keep it as intact as you can.
Do not throw away the pod. Instead, let it dry for a week, open it, and then germinate it
Step 4. Dry the chalice with a dehydrator
Preheat it to a temperature between 35 and 46 ° C. Then arrange the chalices in a single layer and allow them to dry completely before removing them. It can take anywhere from one to four hours.
Dehydrators are very different from each other, so it is important to follow the instructions for the model you have
Step 5. Use the dried chalice to brew tea
Pour 2 cups (500 ml) of hot water in a teaspoon of dried chalices. Let them sit like this in the water for about ten minutes before taking them out. You can flavor your tea however you like using, for example, lemon juice or honey. Also, you can sweeten it if you want. Serve it hot or cold.
If you want your tea to have a strong taste, add more cups and increase the brewing time
Step 6. Make a potpourri with the dried chalices
If you don't feel like using the chalices for making tea, put them in a homemade potpourri. You can also use them in making your soaps and candles, but in this case, it would be better to crumble them first so that the mixture does not get bulky. Another option is to string the chalices (in full) on wire to make a pretty garland to hang in a room.
- It is best to use the flowers picked from your own garden. This way, you can be sure that they have not been treated with pesticides.
- Ask permission before harvesting it from someone else's garden.