3 Reasons Why Your Dried Flowers Smell Bad

why do my dried flowers smell bad
why do my dried flowers smell bad

Having dried flowers in your home is truly a beautiful experience. They are far more long-lasting than normal flowers and can brighten up your home if you care for them properly.

However, a lingering problem can sometimes occur and has to do with the odor of the flower. Though these flowers are fairly easy to care for if you do not follow the right steps it may lead to a foul odor emitting from your flowers.

There are several possible reasons for this and understanding them can help you prevent the smell from coming again.

How Can I Dry My Flowers?

How Can I Dry My Flowers

Before diving into the reasons for bad smells, we should understand the process to have a background that can help us understand where the smells come from. There are a few ways in which flowers can be dried but the most common techniques include air drying and microwaving.


With air-drying, you would need to remove excess foliage and cut the stem that the desired length. Then hang them on a string individually and upside down.

It is important that these plants are dried as soon as they are cut to preserve their color and then kept away from sunlight in a cool, dark place with good air circulation. Flowers can be left for two to three weeks to allow them to completely dehydrate.


For microwaving, you would need a disposable, microwave-safe container. You would need to add silica gel to the base of the container and on top of the flowers as well after you placed them inside with their blossoms up. You would then need to adjust the timer according to how each flower responds.

After microwaving, cover the container completely with a lid. Remove it from the microwave and then open the lid slightly, and keep it for 24 hours. After the process is complete, clean the flowers lightly with a brush.

Air drying is the more common option, though both work effectively and essentially is done to remove the moisture from the flowers completely.

During the process, essential oils can also be added to improve the smell, but if this whole process is not done correctly, it can lead to several reasons why your dried flowers have come out smelling funky.

Why Do My Dried Flowers Smell Bad?

  1. Moisture


One of the main reasons why you could be dealing with dried flowers that have a foul smell is excessive moisture. If these are store-bought dried flowers and upon arriving at your home you have found a bad smell, it is very likely that the store messed up the packaging process.

As a result of excessive moisture in flowers, the rate of decomposition is forced to speed up, which results in rotting. This in turn causes a horrid smell that comes from the flower.

Sadly, if you find that is the reason behind the odor coming from your flower, there isn’t much you can do. Many people prefer to mask the smell by spraying on perfume or air freshener, which can work and is a viable way to help the problem.

However, if you are creating your own dried flowers, or you have dried flowers at home that do not yet reek, you can prevent them from getting a foul smell by keeping them away from moisture.

Dried flowers are essentially dehydrated flowers so they do not require moisture. There are perfectly preserved and can not afford to have any external elements such as water affecting them.

  1. Ammonia


Some flowers when alive and growing absorb a larger amount of ammonia than others and therefore, have a larger ammonia content in their composition.

So, when these flowers are plucked and dried, it causes the ammonia to release which results in a strong and intense smell that is emitted. This smell is different than the smell of rot that comes from excessive moisture.

Additionally, if you have not smelt the emission of ammonia from a plant before, you may not be able to figure out what you’re dealing with. In cases like this, it is a good idea to consult an expert about the types of flowers you bought.

Flowers like Limonium are a prime example of ones having too much ammonia content in them. If you have dried out Limonium, it’s best that you get rid of it because the smell from the ammonia will be very strong and not likely to go away.

Therefore, before drying out flowers or buying dried ones, you should go thorough research or ask a professional about what kind of flowers have a safe portion of ammonia and which have higher amounts of it.

  1. Essential Oils

Essential Oils

Essentially, dried flowers are still able to absorb what you give them and so essential oils can be absorbed by the flowers which can help manage the odor during the drying process.

However, it can get a little tricky if you don’t use the right oils. Your dried flowers can go from fragrant to reeking if you’re not careful.

If you feel like when drying your flowers you have managed to steer clear from the above two scenarios, but still find that there is a strange odor coming from the flowers you can assume it has to do with the essential oils you’ve been using.

You should then steer clear from them and therefore make managing the scent easier.

Tips to Care for Dried Flowers

Tips to Care for Dried Flowers

Prevention is better than cure. Now that we understand what results in foul-smelling dried flowers, we should also understand the way in which we can preserve and protect them in every aspect.

No Water

As mentioned above, dried flowers are dead and dehydrated and therefore, do not react the same way their fresh counterparts do to water. While moisture during the drying process can result in a bad smell, giving your dried flower water afterward too is also a very bad idea.

It makes the steak moldy and weak. The flowers should be kept in a warm and dry place at all times.

No Direct Sunlight

No Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can increase the rate at which dried flowers’ colors fade. With dried flowers, part of their charm is that they last longer than normal flowers and slowly fade to become pale, but this happens when the flower is exposed to direct sunlight.

Therefore, keeping them in a dark place can keep their color longer.

Handle with Care

Handle with Care

Dried flowers become more brittle than normal. They continue to lose their strength with time. Therefore, it is always smart to be gentle with these beautiful things.

Additionally, you can also spray them with an acrylic seal or wax immediately after the drying process. This will help them retain their strength longer.

They Need Peace

Because of their fragility, they are better suited in places where people or animals can reach or rarely frequent. A side table in the corner that is away from sunlight is the ideal place for dried flowers as opposed to the family dining table where the vase may be picked up and shifted several times.


You need to ensure that the room they are kept in has good ventilation. This does not mean the flowers are kept in front of an open window which will likely blow your dried flowers to nothingness. Instead, the room should have good airflow and not be stagnant or damp.

This will cause moisture to get into the flower which will result in mold and a shorter life span. Even keeping them in vases sometimes can be tricky as some vases can capture moisture within them.

Be sure to check your vases from time to time to make sure the stems of the flowers are not weakened. Nice and dry is what you need to aim for. If the flowers are looking moist, switch them to another vase.


Moisture is certainly a great problem for dried flowers and if packaged with moisture, your flowers will come out smelly. Additionally, not picking the right flowers to dry can also lead to them smelling intensely because of the emission of excess ammonia.

Essential oils work great at improving the smell of these flowers but if used incorrectly, they can alter the composition of the scent of the flower and lead it to smell even worse. In cases like this, it is best to steer clear of essential oils and improve your chances of having successfully fragrant dried flowers.

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