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Word Count: 368
As evidenced by the discovery of preserved flowers in ancient Egyptian tombs people have for centuries engaged in the art of preserving flowers Today a large variety of annuals biennials and perennials are successfully preserved Because properly dried flowers can persist for years after harvesting they are often referred to as everlastings or immortelles To ascertain the optimum growing conditions and harvesting time for a particular species one should not rely solely on books or articles Experienced growers will frequently be the best sources of information In general flowering plants require ample sunlight good drainage and a growing season with a minimum of 80 days Harvesting flowers at the appropriate time is critical Flowers which are without blemishes insects or diseases should be picked on mornings of low humidity after the dew has evaporated from the petals Several techniques can be utilized to remove moisture from the collected flowers The simplest method is to tie a rubber band around a bunch of flowers after their leaves have been removed and to hang them upside down out of direct sunlight in a dry well-ventilated attic closet or garage Ideally the drying area should have a temperature between 60 and 80 F and a humidity rate less than 60 Another method is to place the flowers in a container and to cover them with clean fine sand or a mixture of borax and cornmeal or a nonchlorophyll kitty litter These inexpensive substances provide the flowers with support enabling them to maintain their shape while they dry naturally A more costly method is to use an airtight container and to cover the flowers with silica gel a desiccant which not only provides support to the flowers but also removes moisture from them Overall the more rapidly flowers dry the less likely they are to become moldy and the more vivid their colors remain The drying process can be further accelerated by placing the container in
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