How to Preserve Flowers
Find out how to keep the beauty of your garden going all year long by learning the best way to preserve flowers.
Whether it's your bridal bouquet, an anniversary or Valentine's Day arrangement, or a particularly gorgeous vase of flowers gathered from your own garden, drying your flowers will preserve their beauty and sentimental value. Dry flowers make lovely home decor and can be used in a myriad of craft projects. The preservation method you use will depend on the look you wish to achieve and the type of flower.
How to Air Dry Flowers
Air drying is also known simply as hanging the bouquet upside down. This method is best for entire bouquets or robust flowers such as roses, lavender, strawflower, baby's breath, statice, celosia, gomphrena and thistle.
- Strip excess foliage from flowers.
- Cut stems to the desired length, but leave at least 6 inches.
- Use a rubber band or twine to tie the stems together (if you have a bouquet).
- Hang them upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Keeping the flowers out of direct sunlight will help them retain their color.
- The drying process will take about two to three weeks.
- Once dried, take down the flowers and spray with unscented hairspray for protection.
How to Preserve Flowers in the Microwave
Another way to dry blossoms is to use a microwave with the help of silica gel. The gel helps to preserve the shape of the flowers and is reusable. Individual flower blooms such as Gerbera daisies, chrysanthemums, roses and tulips take well to the microwave flower-drying technique. This drying method helps preserve color and structure better than air drying. You can also use silica gel to dry flowers without the help of the microwave, but it takes longer. Silica gel is available in large containers at craft stores and online.
- Remove the blooms from the stems.
- Find a microwave-safe container that will fit into your microwave and hold your blooms. Make sure that this container will not be used for food after the drying process.
- Cover the bottom of the container with an inch of silica gel (you may need a bit more for larger blossoms.)
- Place flowers blossom-up in the gel.
- Gently pour more gel over the blooms so the petals do not get flattened.
- Place the container, uncovered, into the microwave.
- Temperature and time will vary according to the flower. Start the microwave on a low heat setting and let it run for 2 to 5 minutes. Check the flowers' drying progress before you increase the heat or the time.
- Once the flowers are dry, open the microwave and cover the container.
- Remove the container from the microwave and open the top slightly to vent.
- Let it sit for 24 hours.
- After the 24 hours, remove the gel from the petals with a soft brush.
- Mist with acrylic spray for protection.
Tip: Dried flowers fade quickly in sunlight or extreme heat. Keep them in cool areas away from windows.
How to Preserve Flowers With Sand
Similar to the silica gel technique, fine sand can be used to preserve flowers. Since sand is heavy, you can only use this preserving technique with hardy flowers and foliage.
- Pour a half-inch layer of sand into a sturdy box.
- Lay the flowers or foliage and stems on the sand.
- Slowly pour sand around, under and over each part of the flower — the flowers must be completely covered.
- Allow two weeks for the flowers to dry, then remove the sand.
How to Press Flowers
Pressing flowers is a time-honored method of preservation. It's simple and quick, which is why budding botanists and flower lovers have been using this method for centuries. Pressing flowers can be done in a few different ways depending on the materials on hand and how many flowers you want to preserve. If you press a lot of flowers, consider making or purchasing a flower press. Otherwise you can just use a heavy book. Pressed flowers are perfect for adding to cards or for your own DIY botanical prints.
- Remove any unwanted leaves. Or just remove the flowers and press the leaves separately.
- Open the book about a quarter to halfway.
- Place absorbent sheets of paper (such as watercolor sheet or cardstock) on the book's pages.
- Position the blooms face down on parchment paper and lay the parchment paper on top of the absorbent paper. Place another sheet of absorbent paper on top of the flowers. Carefully close the book.
- Place more books on top of the book with the flowers.
- Place the books in a safe place for 3 to 4 weeks.
Tip: Heavy books like dictionaries work best.
How to Use Epoxy Resin to Preserve Flowers
Using epoxy resin to preserve flowers will give you stunning results. This method can be a little tricky because you will have to work fast once the resin is activated. The results will be well worth it, especially if you plan to use the preserved flowers for jewelry or other craft projects.
- You will first need to dry the flowers using the air drying or microwave method.
- Cover your work surface with old newspapers or other protective covering.
- Measure out equal amounts of the resin and catalyst into disposable measuring cups.
- Make sure you mix enough for what you will need for one or two flowers as the epoxy resin sets quickly.
- Pour the resin and catalyst into another disposable mixing cup and mix it according to the time recommended by the manufacturer.
- You can either dip the flower into the epoxy or place the flower into a silicone form and then pour the epoxy in the form. If you choose to dip the flower, you will need to hold it for a few minutes so that the epoxy gets between the petals. Then, lift the blossom out of the epoxy and hang it over several layers of newspaper until it sets.
- Epoxy typically sets in about 5 minutes.