The Q&A Archives: Growing Flowers for Drying

Question: I have a very small space for gardening and would like to dry flowers for decorating. What kinds dry best and grow in a small space?

Answer: If your garden site is in full sun, you have lots of options. You'll probably want to concentrate on flowers that will provide the most bloom per square foot, such as strawflowers, gomphrena, wheat closia, Salvia horminum, and scabiosa. You'll find selections of all mentioned in the 1998 Burpee Catalog.<br><br>Raised beds are useful for getting the most out of your garden area. Deep, loose soil that's enriched with compost will allow plant roots to grow downward for their nutrients, rather than spreading out, which will increase competition among plants. It's important to allow plants enough space, too, so that air circlates among them, which is important in gas exchange (carbon dioxide/oxygen) and also to keep moisture from building up on plant surfaces (excess surface moisture encourages disease). Also, if you have a handful of healthy plants, you may actually end up with just as many or more blossoms than from more plants competing for resources. Choose slow-release, organic or mineral-based fertilizers if your soil can't provide adequate nutrients - synthetic, water soluble fertilizers can cause nutrient imbalances if used incorrectly, which can throw off plant growth. If you want to test your soil, you can purchase do-it-yourselftests (Burpee has one in their catalog), or call your extension service (ph# 814/445-8911) for a professional laboratory test. Also, "Flowers That Last Forever", by Betty E.M. Jacobs (Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, VT) is a great book on the topic of growing & drying flowers if you're looking for more detailed information. Enjoy your little Eden!

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