Cut flowers are a creative medium for artist Karina Castellon.

By day, Karina Castellon designs displays as visual manager for Chalet Nursery, one of the country's largest garden centers north of Chicago. After hours, she brings her creative prowess to her floral design business, Gypsy Alley.

Karina Castellon posing with dried floral bouquets
Credit: Courtesy of Karina Castellon

"I hate to see fresh flowers go to waste, so I started drying them and assembling them in repurposed vessels," says Karina.

During the pandemic, she sourced flowers from local floral farms and started selling both fresh and dried bouquets from her backyard along the alley (hence the "Gypsy Alley" name). Later, she joined a community of artists to sell her floral designs during pop-up events at local breweries, vintage boutiques, art galleries and even a shuffleboard club.

"[Dried floral arrangements] make great gifts, especially if you grow your own plants," she says. She recently visited the Upper Peninsula for her birthday and returned home with a wildflower bouquet to dry as a keepsake from the trip. "If you're a sentimental person, the beauty and scent of the dried flowers lives on," she says.

How to Make a Dried Floral Bouquet

Karina shares how to create your own everlasting arrangement at home.

Bouquets of flowers wrapped in paper
Credit: Courtesy of Karina Castellon

1. Gather Flowers

Roses, hydrangeas, lavender, peonies, status, coneflowers, scabiosa, spring bulbs, zinnias, sunflowers and marigolds, plus foliage plants like grasses, oregano and eucalyptus, dry well. If you can, source them from a nearby flower farm. "It's a great way to support local businesses," Karina says.

Related: 20 Beautiful Floral Arrangement Ideas

Dried flowers on table
Credit: Courtesy of Karina Castellon

2. Dry Flowers

The best time to dry flowers is when they're fresh, before they start to decline. Remove their leaves and hang upside down in a cool, dry place with some air flow but no sunlight that can fade colors. Karina uses her kitchen pantry.

Scooping sand into beer can for floral arrangement
Credit: Courtesy of Karina Castellon

3. Prep the Container

Karina chose a beer can as a vessel for this project, using a can opener to cut an opening in the top, then weighed it down with scoops of sand. For containers with more heft, sand, floral netting or chicken wire can act as the base for flower stems.

Dried floral bouquets in beer cans
Credit: Courtesy of Karina Castellon

4. Assemble

Consider an arrangement's size in proportion to its vessel. "You don't want it to be top heavy," Karina says. One and a half times the height of the vessel is a safe bet. 

Tip: Assemble flower clusters in your hands before inserting them in the container. For an added visual effect, coordinate flowers with the can's label. 

Dried floral designs in vintage glass vessels
Credit: Courtesy of Karina Castellon

Karina likes to shop thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace for other repurposed vessels like vintage vases, Mason jars, old medicine bottles and mid-century animal planters. They all offer different twists for dried floral bouquets. Enjoy the arrangement for a season, then when you tire of it, don't feel bad about tossing it. "It's biodegradable, so just return it to the Earth."