Peter Krask Taught Us How to Make ‘Dead Flowers’ for Halloween
Earlier this year Peter Krask, the floral designer for NBC’s Today Show, styled us a bouquet in honor of Pride. In the course of explaining all the unusual and varied requests his job has required (a bread bouquet, anyone?), he mentioned having stumbled across the perfect technique for making beautiful, dead flowers when the Today Show put in a request for gothic Halloween decorations.
“The problem with actual dead flowers is that they have rotted and aren’t usable– their stems no longer support the weight of the bloom, or the stem has turned to mush, or all of the petals have fallen off,” Krask explained to GC. “I needed flowers that looked as if they had died, but still retained some of their life qualities so they were recognizable as flowers.”
Instead of drying flowers– which can often change a flower’s shape and cause them to lose parts– Krask bakes his flowers, likening the process to making kale chips: the idea is to remove as much water as possible. (Halloween fun fact: This is also the basis for mummification!)
We’ve detailed the exact process below, but note that not all flowers are up to a bake. Krask recommends flowers with lots of petals and sturdy stems, like dahlias and roses. When the flowers have finished baking and cooled, you can arrange them as you would any standard flower– just be sure not to place them back in water, as this can cause them to rehydrate. Flowers fresh from the florist will work best, but you can use flowers from a previous arrangement. (You need to let them dry outside of water for half a day before baking.)
Instead of drying flowers, Krask bakes his flowers, likening the process to making kale chips: the idea is to remove as much water as possible.
As for what you can do with these flowers, Krask shared: “I like to arrange these kinds of flowers in large arrangements in containers like compotes or urns, so they appear to have come from a grand setting that has fallen into disuse and is potentially haunted. I also mix them in with some fresh autumn foliage which will start to dry out as well… the different states of dryness create an interesting effect.”
Whether you’re looking for just a touch of decay à la Beetlejuice or for full-on Mrs. Haversham, baked flowers are the way to go. Find out how to make them, below.
- flowers with stems and foliage (foliage helps add to a gothic look)
- parchment paper
- baking sheet
- Preheat your oven to 425º F– and take the preheat seriously! The oven should be hot when you put the flowers in.
- Thoroughly line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your flowers. Make sure they’re not touching the edges.
- Open a window! Flowers can have a very distinct (and unpleasant) parfum when baking.
- Bake for 5 to 15 minutes. You may need to increase the temperature– up to 500º F. As Krask says, it isn’t an exact science, so just keep an eye on the flowers.
- When the flowers are beginning to brown– but still have some of their original color– remove them from the oven and let cool.
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