Collecting and Drying Flowers

Collecting flowers can be an enjoyable therapeutic and relaxing activity. Flowers may be arranged in jugs or other containers, or used for pressing or drying. Edible flowers can also be used to create flower ice-cubes or in salads, adding wonderful colour to drinks or meals.

Outdoor Benefits:

Promotes memory, identification and sorting skills, as well as fine motor skills.

Materials required:

  • flower beds or flowers growing in pots
  • clippers
  • collection basket or bucket.


Ensure that the flowers are accessible to your client group and can be picked easily. If clients have limited mobility, raised beds or pots growing on a bench will allow them to reach the flowers easily.

Older clients, in particular, may enjoy flowers that they remember from their younger years. The appearance and scent of these much loved flowers can be very effective in triggering the memories of clients who have some memory loss. Studies have shown that once a single memory has been retrieved it’s much easier to access other memories too, much like pulling a loose thread on a woollen jumper. Flowers that are suitable here include daffodils, old roses, lavender, sweet peas, and snowdrops.

Drying Flowers

To dry flowers remove most of the leaves and make a bunch, varying the height of the flowerheads. Tie the bunch with string then hang the flowers upside down in a warm, dry, shady place.

Flowers can also be dried in silica gel. This is a little more complicated, but the flowers retain their colour better.

To dry with silica gel:

  1. Put on plastic gloves. Fill the bottom of an airtight container with 2cm (1in) of silica gel.
  2. Remove the flowerheads carefully using scissors or secateurs. This technique can also be used to dry whole flower sprays.
  3. Place the flowers face up in the container.
  4. Sprinkle gel gently over the flowerheads and between the petals, until they are covered with 2cm (1in) of gel.
  5. Remove the flowers after 3 – 4 days when they are fully dry.

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