How to Dry and Preserve Carnation Flowers (Essential Tips)

Carnation flowers come from the Dianthus genus and are known for their sweet, spicy scent. Carnations make excellent cut flowers for bouquets and vases. However, you can also dry carnations and enjoy them for months. In this article, I’ll share my experience of how to dry and preserve carnation flowers.

How to Dry and Preserve Carnation Flowers (Essential Tips)

When Are Carnation Flowers in Season?

Most types of carnations flower from late spring until late summer or early fall. Cut back your carnations after the first round of flowers finishes in early summer. This encourages a second flush of flowers later in the year. Deadhead carnations throughout the season.

When to Pick Carnation Flowers For Drying and Preserving

Pick carnation flowers (Dianthus) early in the morning or late in the evening. Plants contain more water at these times of the day, which helps the flowers last longer. You can harvest carnation flowers any time during the blooming season. Always use clean, sharp tools when harvesting carnations to prevent diseases from spreading.

How to Dry and Preserve Carnation Flowers

How to Dry and Preserve Carnation Flowers


Air-drying is the easiest way of drying carnations but takes longer than other methods. In addition, air-drying also causes the flowers to lose some of their color.

  1. Choose healthy carnation stems that have flowers that are fully open or almost open.
  2. Cut the stems off just above an unopened flower bud and remove most of the leaves.
  3. Tie the carnation stems in a bundle using string or an elastic band.
  4. Tie a length of string to the bottom of the bundle so that you can hang them somewhere to dry.
  5. Hang the stems in a cool, dark space. They will take about two to three weeks to dry.

Using a Microwave and Silica Gel

You can also dry carnation flowers by placing them in silica gel and microwaving them. This is quicker than air-drying, but you can only dry one flower at a time.

  1. Choose a microwave-safe container large enough for your chosen stem. You may need to cut the stems fairly short.
  2. Fill half of the container with silica gel. Silica gel can be bought as crystals from most hobby stores.
  3. Push the carnation stem into the silica crystals with the flower facing up.
  4. Carefully add more crystals to cover your carnation.
  5. Microwave the carnation in 30-second bursts at 50 to 60% power. Do this for approximately 2 to 5 minutes until the carnation completely dries.
  6. Take the container out of the microwave and put on the lid, leaving one corner slightly open.
  7. Let the carnation cool inside the container for approximately 24 hours.
  8. Remove the carnation and apply a layer of acrylic spray to help preserve the flower.
  9. Store your dried carnations in an airtight container until you’re ready to use them.


Pressing is another easy way of preserving carnations, but it takes longer than microwaving them. You can use pressed carnations to make cards and other art projects.

  1. Take an old book and open it about halfway or three-quarters of the way through.
  2. Place a sheet of paper on one of the pages.
  3. Remove the stems from your carnation flowers and gently place them onto the paper. Make sure that they sit flat and don’t have curled petals.
  4. Lay a second sheet of paper on top of the carnations and carefully close the book.
  5. Position the book somewhere cool and dry and place another heavy book on top.
  6. Allow the carnations to sit for about three weeks to ensure that they are fully pressed. Then remove them from the book.

Drying and Preserving Carnation Flowers FAQs:

How Do You Dry Carnations and Keep Their Color?

Air-drying carnations can cause the flowers to lose some of their color. However, using a microwave to dry your carnations helps them retain most of their color.

How Do You Preserve Fresh Carnations?

You can preserve fresh carnations by air-drying, microwaving, or pressing them. Air-drying is the easiest method but takes the most time. Microwaving carnations helps maintain more of their color.

Can Carnation Flowers Be Dried?

Carnations make excellent dried flowers that can last for up to three years. It’s fairly easy to dry carnations, regardless of which method you use.

Is it Better to Press or Dry Carnations?

Carnations have reasonably long stems, so it’s often better to dry them rather than press them. However, low-growing alpine carnations are better suited to being pressed than upright carnations.

Can You Dry Carnations in the Microwave?

You can quickly dry carnations in the microwave. This method helps the dried carnations retain more of their color. Microwave your carnations in silica gel to dry and preserve them.

Wrapping Up

Preserve carnations by air-drying them, microwaving them in silica gel, or pressing them. Dried carnations last for up to three years. Air-drying and pressing these symbolic flowers takes approximately three weeks. It takes about a day to microwave carnations.

For more, see our in-depth guide to carnation growing zones and native ranges, the uses and benefits of carnation flowers, carnation plant toxicity to pets, the best companion plants for carnations, tips on growing carnation flowers from seed, tips on managing non-flowering carnations, beautiful flowers that pair well with carnations, and how to propagate and transplant carnation flowers in your garden.

Spread the love