Drying Wheat for Decorations

How to Preserve Wheat Stalks for Fall Decorations

We live in one of Canada’s prairie provinces and although a mountain girl, the prairies during harvest season are breathtaking. Driving around sight seeing and hunting for antique barns, I noticed all the wheat and decided to dry some wheat stalks for decorating. This old barn is about 5 km away from the major city of Edmonton.

Picture of Barn in a field, for a preserving wheat post

I remembered seeing this barn last year but in my memory I thought it was a waist high wheat field.  I drove out to it again and it actually sits in a pretty field of canola.

Besides wheat stalks, we can easily gather branches, pinecones, corn stalks and Fall leaves for decorating.  I cannot imagine anything more farmhouse styled for Fall than homemade sheaths of wheat.

How to Preserve Wheat Stalks

Earlier this year I made these super easy to make flower drying racks so I decided to get some fresh wheat and dry it myself for Fall decor.   Once prepared it takes anywhere from one to four weeks to dry.

You need to start by gathering the wheat stalks, to be honest, these may be barley but I don’t know the difference, either way, I love the little whispy tops.  The colours are beautiful shades of soft green to golden yellows.

Gathered wheat stalks for fall decor.

Once gathered you need to clean them and I suggest doing them outside as the plants are wild and may have bugs, mine had a ladybug and an ant.  They weren’t prickly at all.

Go through each shaft of wheat removing all the lower leaves, tossing out any broken or miscoloured stems.

Cleaning wheat stalk stems for DIY fall decorating

Once you have the extra leaves removed, place the stalk ends in water.  Although I know they get rained on, I wasn’t comfortable immersing the fresh grain ends in water so I kept them dry.

Fresh wheat stalks being cleaned for fall decorating.

Clean each stalk with a soft cloth making sure not to break them.  After you clean each stem set it aside in a single layer on a towel to dry.  Let them dry for several hours.

Clean and damp wheat stalks laid flat on a towel drying.

Bundling and Hanging your Wheat Stalks

Bundle your stalks by holding the bottom of each grain section between your thumb and finger.

Gathering Wheat Stalks together

These wheat stalks are gathered 20  stalks to a bundle.  Place an elastic around the stalks.  Place a second elastic lower down the stalks as well.  Trim the ends of the stalks off evenly.

Preserving Wheat Stalks Hung to dry

Hang them to dry seed side down for one to four weeks until completely dry.

Making Wheat Bundles

Gather the wheat into a hand held bundle. Arrange the wheat so the ends of the seedy section line up. Use raffia or a bit of twine wrap the wheat bundle several times and secure with a small bow. Once wrapped tightly trim the ends of the stems evenly.

Update: These wheat stalks have kept very well. I created some updated pictures for them after 2 years and a move this is what they look like.

Pin this Post and Enjoy Gathering!

A tobacco basket decorated with DIY preserved wheat stalks.

Are there any local naturals you gather to use for Fall decorating?  Do they need some time to preserve before you can use them?  Let me know in the comments, I always enjoy hearing from you.

Some Other DIY Fall Decor Ideas

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Realistic DIY Cotton Boll Stems

These cotton stems are made using branching, spruce cones, large cotton balls and paint. They look very realistic and unlike purchased stems these are very affordable.

DIY Cottom Stems

Fall leaf banner made with a free printable and twine.

Printable Leaf Banner

Print out as many of these neutral coloured Fall Birch leaves as you like and string them anywhere you want to add some whimsy to your Fall decor.

Printable Fall Leaves


  1. Will the stalks stay green?

  2. Do you collect the wheat when it is still green snd slightly turning brown?

  3. Cool idea, Leanna! Your hanging racks and bundles are really cute. We have tons of walnuts, but I think we would rather dry them and then EAT them! What else can a family of squirrels do? 😉

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      LOL too funny. When I lived in BC we use to collect and shell walnuts. Yummm. I saw a really elegant banner made with just walnuts as well. If you can “squirrel” a few away for decor maybe you could make one.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Julie. I commented on your post and thanked you, as it is very much appreciated.

    2. BTW, I have NO idea where I would get fresh stalks like this in So Cal! LOL!

  4. Oh gosh, Leanna did this post remind me of my Mom. One of her favorite past times was to go for drives in the country and take photos of old barns and outbuildings around Edmonton and during their camping trips to BC. She would then paint those scenes. At her funeral luncheon we had all her paintings along the walls for people to see. I have a gallery of her paintings in my house. I wouldn’t be surprised if she painted that very barn! Anyway, thanks for the trip down memory lane and the awesome tutorial 🙂

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Oh, that’s wonderful. The first oil painting I ever bought was of a large old hay barn. I love old barns. I hope to see that artwork someday, what a wonderful keepsake.

  5. How I would love to live close to fields of wheat and barley. That piccy you shared of the barn is dreamy Leanna. It would make an awesome painting. Great tutorial too. I would never have know how to dry wheat to use in decor. Pinned just in case i pass a wheat field one day. Hope the farmer won’t mind if I steal some 😉

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      For the two little handfuls just ask. Or buy a thoroughbred and then they love you!!! lol

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