Special occasions often call for the presentation of a floral bouquet. But as anyone who’s gotten a bunch of flowers knows, the beauty is fleeting.
Knowing how to preserve flowers can ensure that you can continue enjoying your beautiful gift for years. When you use flower preservation for your bouquet, you artificially protect the flowers to keep them in their current form – or a variation.
There are several methods for preserving flowers. No matter your creative skill level or budget, you’ll be able to perform bouquet preservation using one or more of these methods for how to preserve flowers.
Table of Contents
- What Are Methods for Preserving Flowers?
- How Can I Dry Flowers?
- Can Flowers Air Dry?
- Does a Dehydrator Work?
- Is Silica Gel Recommended?
- Can I Microwave My Flowers?
- What Is Resin Coating?
- Can Wax Preserve Them?
- How Effective Is Sand/Kitty Litter?
- What to Do With Dried Flowers?
What Are Methods for Preserving Flowers?
There are several ways to preserve flowers, varying in difficulty and speed. How you want your flowers to look once preserved can help you decide on the appropriate preservation method.
Methods of flower preservation include:
- Pressing the flowers
- Air drying upside down
- Silica gel
- Food dehydrator
- Sand/Kitty litter
How Can I Dry Flowers?
One of the easiest methods of preserving flowers is by pressing them. This technique can work for one flower or an entire bouquet.
When you press flowers to preserve them, you capture your blooms in their current state. But while they are in bloom, the final result will be flat flowers.
There are two methods you can use to preserve flowers by pressing them. Once you’ve pressed your flowers you can turn them into beautiful wall art, resin crafts like coasters, trays, and candles.
How to Press Flowers
One method of preserving flowers by flattening them is with a press. If you don’t already have a press, there’s no need to rush out and get one. You can build a homemade wooden press with little effort, skill, or materials. There are also commercial wooden presses you can buy if you’re inclined.
Another thing to love about using a press to preserve your flowers is that you can customize the press’s look and size. To build a wood press to preserve your flowers, start with two pieces of pre-cut 12″ x 12″ plywood or MDF – a byproduct made from glue and sawdust fused by heat and pressure.
You’ll also need two pieces of paper – parchment works great – some cardboard sheets, and four wing nuts with four bolts.
Drill a hole into each corner of both boards that’s large enough for the bolts. Insert the bolts into the corners of one of the plywood boards.
Then trim the corners from all of your cardboard pieces to fit the size of your press or the size of the flowers you’re pressing. Next, add a piece of cardboard to the inside of both pieces of wood and cover it with parchment paper.
Now, you’re ready to create your flower arrangement. Once you’ve got your ideal design, cover the flowers with another section of paper and then cardboard. You can keep adding layers of flowers until your design is done.
Finally, add your second piece of wood by threading the bolts into the holes. Secure and tighten your press with the wing nuts and put it aside for one month.
Press Flowers Using a Book
Another old-school option utilized for centuries is to flatten your flowers using a book. While any book can work, remember that the thicker, the better.
Heavy books like school texts, phone books, large cookbooks, or an encyclopedia (do others still have these, or is it just me?) can have the appropriate weight and structure. If you don’t have a single thick heavy book, stack a few smaller, lighter books together. There is no such thing as a book that’s too heavy or thick.
Materials Needed to Press Flowers
To preserve your flowers by pressing them – either with a book or a press – you’ll need a few other things besides the flowers you want to protect.
Wax paper is a useful tool that can make it easier to secure your flowers while pressing. And it makes it easier to take the flowers off once they’re smushed.
You’ll also need the tool you’re using for flattening your flowers – a press or a heavy book. Having other heavy items to put over the book can add extra weight for faster results.
Step by Step Guide: How to Press Your Flowers
Pressing flowers means using weight to suppress the blooms into a single, non-dimensional form. Before doing this, you’ll need to arrange the flowers on parchment paper, separating any petals as needed.
- Step 1: Leave a minimum of ¾” space between the flowers.
- Step 2: Keep your blooms grouped by thickness or by variety.
- Step 3: Then cover your flowers with the other half of the parchment sheet.
- Step 4: Finally, close the book or close the seal. Then add your heavy item or things onto
the top to help motivate the process to completion faster.
It can take two to four weeks for the pressing method to be complete. The thickness of the petals will affect the flower’s drying out period. The biggest benefit is the preservation of the flower’s original colors.
Best Type of Flowers to Press
Pressing works best with smaller simple form flowers. Look for flowers featuring a single petal layer with flat faces. A small selection of potential options include:
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- California poppies
Pressing is less efficient with large spherical shapes like peonies or roses. For these types of flowers, it’s necessary to separate the petals to get a good press.
After your flowers have dried, remove them from the parchment paper with tweezers. The delicacy of the flowers can tear by hand.
|ADVANTAGES OF PRESSING FLOWERS||DOWNSIDES OF PRESSING FLOWERS|
|Affordable||It can take up to 30 days to press|
|No need for extra ingredients||Flowers might not retain a full vibrancy|
Can Flowers Air Dry?
Air drying is one of the oldest and easiest methods to dry flowers. But it’s also the most time-consuming technique to use.
By air drying your flowers you will get beautifully dried flowers attached to their stems and left in their original form rather than flattened.
How to Preserve Flowers by Air Drying
The process of air drying flowers for preservation is simple. Start by stripping the flowers free of excess foliage. You’ll also need to trim the stems to the proper length. But do not cut your stems shorter than six inches. When you cut your flowers, protect them from direct sunlight to preserve their color.
Then, you can hang each flower upside down by itself. Or you can bunch the flowers together to make a bouquet and wrap the stems with a rubber band to hold them together.
You’ll need a dry, dark place that has good air circulation. Attics and unused closets are suitable locations.
Use unflavored dental floss to attach the stems of the flowers to a clothes hanger, so the blooms hang upside down.
It can take your flowers two to three weeks to dry out completely. Then take the flowers off the hangers, spray them with unscented hairspray, and they’re ready to display. Hairspray keeps the flowers fixed in place and in their current shape. You want an unscented form, as perfumes can damage the flower integrity.
Best Type of Flowers to Air Dry
Air drying works fantastic for large bouquets and floral arrangements. It’s an excellent choice for drying wedding bouquets.
You can also hang bigger flowers to air dry, like sunflowers. The process is the same for all kinds of flowers, including:
- African Marigolds
- Love in a mist
- Globe Thistle
- Lady’s Mantle
But you shouldn’t use flower species that have high water content, like cacti, irises, daylilies, and ferns. These types will not dry all the way through. You’ll end up with flowers that rot before they dry.
|ADVANTAGES OF AIR DRYING FLOWERS||DOWNSIDES OF AIR DRYING FLOWERS|
|Easy and effective||Petals become brittle, crinkle, and shrink|
|Minimal supplies needed||Can end up losing flowers instead of drying|
|Most affordable method|
Does a Dehydrator Work?
You can get fast-dried preserved flowers with a dehydrator. But you get less vibrant and impressive preserved flowers for a quick dry time.
When using a dehydrator, buy additional trays so you’re not preserving your flowers on surfaces where you prepare your food.
Materials Needed to Dehydrate Flowers
To preserve flowers with a dehydrator, you’ll need a dehydrator, scissors, and a sealant for the dried flowers. You can either use Mod Podge or hairspray.
How to Preserve Flowers With a Dehydrator
Dehydrating your flowers is similar to other methods and starts with preparing your flowers. This technique does best with flowers on short stems.
- Step 1: The blooms should go face up in the pan without touching to prevent sticking.
- Step 2: Keep the flowers in a single layer per tray.
- Step 3: Set your dehydrator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and keep your flowers inside for four to twelve hours.
- Step 4: Seal dehydrated flowers with hairspray, a spray sealer, or a mod podge.
Delicate and small flowers can take an hour or longer than medium flowers, which can take a few hours.
Best Type of Flowers to Seal
Dehydration is possible with small and medium flowers; basically, anything that will fit inside the machine. Try your hand at:
- Pom Pom zinnias
- Rugose Roses
- Queens Anne’s Lace
|ADVANTAGES OF DEHYDRATING FLOWERS||DOWNSIDES OF DEHYDRATING FLOWERS|
|Easy, straightforward process||Flowers change color|
|It can be done in under a day||Requires the investment of a dehydrator|
|Great for making potpourri or dried petals|
Is Silica Gel Recommended?
One of the best new methods for preserving flowers is with silica gel as it is the best way to retain the color of your flowers.
An interesting fact about drying flowers with silica gel is that you have realistic-looking flowers, but they will feel papery to the touch.
When working with silica gel, you’ll need to use safety precautions. Always wear gloves and an air filter mask. Silica gel contains a drying agent that irritates the lungs and your skin lining if they become too exposed.
Materials Needed to Preserve With Silica Gel
You’ll need a few special things to preserve your flowers in silica gel. Other than silica gel, you’ll also need
- face mask
- plastic bottles (squeezable – any size nozzle is fine)
- garden shears or scissors
- airtight container – glass or plastic
- soft bristle paint brush
- Mod Podge (hairspray also works)
How to Preserve Flowers With Silica Gel
- Step 1: Cut your flower stems 1″ from the flower head.
- Step 2: Then add your flowers to a container at least 2 inches taller, with the flower heads facing up.
- Step 2a: For flat-faced flowers, place them upside down. And lay long flowers down on their side.
- Step 3: Gently form an even layer of silica gel over the flowers, with at least an extra inch covering the buds.
- Step 4: Then add a lid or cover the container with saran wrap.
- Step 5: Then you’ll need to give the gel three to five days to set.
When removing the flowers from the gel, be gentle, so you don’t end up with dried petals. A soft bristle paint brush can remove any remaining silica gel from your flowers. The silica gel becomes a powder that dusts off.
Types of Flowers to Use With Silica Gel
The best thing about using silica gel to preserve flowers is that you can use it for any species. As long as you have enough gel and a container, there isn’t a flower that you can’t preserve – even if they’re extra large.
Flowers that dry the best with silica gels include:
- Bachelor buttons
- Small dwarf snapdragons
|ADVANTAGES OF DRYING WITH SILICA GEL||DOWNSIDES OF DRYING WITH SILICA GEL|
|It takes 1 minute to dry with a microwave||Requires safety precautions|
|It looks like a fresh-picked bloom||It can be a difficult clean-up|
|Flowers preserved in silica are more vibrant||More expensive method|
You can use a microwave to speed up the drying process, keeping your flowers in their vibrant bright state.
Can I Microwave My Flowers?
Your microwave isn’t just a savior when you hear your kids complaining that they’re hungry for the fifth time.
You can also use this radiation to dry flowers in a faster process than using a book or press. Many people also like using a microwave when preserving their flowers with silica gel.
With the right tools, you can use your microwave to flatten your flowers.
Materials Needed to Microwave Flowers
Before you can put your flowers into the microwave to dry them out for pressing, you’ll need the right tools.
Drying flowers in a microwave requires the use of a Microfleur fill-pack. Spray this pack with water before the first use or after a long time of no use.
How to Preserve Flowers Using a Microwave
Using a microwave as your preservation method, you’ll need to arrange the blooms in your press. Then clamp it into place.
- Step 1: Pressing several flowers in the Microfleur together is possible, but they must have a similar texture and thickness.
- Step 2: Once your flowers are arranged on the mat, you can put the Microfleur in the microwave. (The drying time can vary by microwave brand.)
- Step 3: Start with an initial period of high power for 25 to 30 seconds.
- Step 3a: Then continue heating the flowers at ten-second intervals several times. How long it takes can vary with each batch.
You’ll know the drying time is complete when the flowers have a papery, dry feel without drooping petals or leaves. Ventilating your flowers between microwaving cycles gives you the best results.
Best Type of Flowers to Microwave
There are several types of flowers, plants, and leaves that you can press in your microwave. Potential species include esperanza, crepe myrtle, ferns, angelonia, roses, vincas, and plumbago.
Thinner flowers require more care when preserving because these flowers can stick to a fabric liner. Thicker flowers may need to be cut into flatter pieces or dismantled. You’ll get the best color preservation with new blooms.
|ADVANTAGES OF MICROWAVING FLOWERS||DOWNSIDES OF MICROWAVING FLOWERS|
|Fast, nearly instant preservation||Can cause blisters on the leaves|
|Can work with silica gel||Flowers can stick|
|Works with many species|
What Is Resin Coating?
Resin can make a perfect preservative for flowers you want to turn into various crafts. You can pick from different resin types, which can affect the outcome of your preserved flowers.
Limit your search to resin products with a long-lasting high gloss finish and a low odor. You also want resins that are non-toxic and non-flammable.
You’ll also want a product with a full cure in 72 hours or less with self-leveling properties. Clear resins are best for viewing your preserved flower’s color.
Materials Needed for Resin Coating Flowers
To preserve flowers in resin, you’ll need several things in addition to your preferred resin choice. You’ll also need silicone molds, which you can get in an impressive range of shapes and sizes.
Molds allow you to fix your preserved flowers inside resin shapes, like cubes, spheres, pyramids, or diamonds. You’ll also need specific mixing cups for preparing the resin. Silicone cups are best because the flexibility makes it easier to get the resin out. But plastic cups also work, as long as you don’t use your regular dishes.
Popsicle sticks or craft sticks will mix your resin, while toothpicks can remove any bubbles after you’ve poured your resin. Having a hair dryer or heat gun on standby is also handy. For example, if there are too many bubbles for a toothpick, you may have to heat the resin to clear it. Sandpaper is also crucial to completing your resin project. Fine-grit sandpaper in sizes 150, 200, 499, 1,000, and 3,000 are necessary.
Safety gear is also a requirement when working with resin. You’ll need a respirator mask, nitrile gloves, and safety goggles. In addition, a plastic drop cloth will protect your area from resin spills and make clean-up faster.
How to Preserve Flowers Using Resin Coating
There are several steps involved with casting flowers in resin to preserve them. Use safety precautions and be careful when handling these harmful chemicals.
Step 1 – Mixing the Resin
Your first step is to mix your resin and have it sitting within close reach. For this step, you’ll need your mask, gloves, and eye protection.
Read the manufacturer’s directions thoroughly before you open any containers. Casting resins typically come in a 1:1 to 2:1 mixed ratio of resin to hardener.
Improperly mixed resin can become brittle or sticky due to not thoroughly curing. Mix the resin thoroughly and slowly for 3 to 4 minutes and 200 rotations using the popsicle sticks.
Step 2 – Pour the base and place the flowers.
After you’ve mixed your resin, let it set for one to two minutes to give the bubbles time to rise to the surface. Then, remove any lingering bubbles with your toothpick or heat gun.
Next, set up your containers and add resin to each mold. You typically have 12 to 48 hours for the resin to cure once it’s mixed. So, you have time to get your placement right after you add the flowers. Your mold – hopefully silicone because it’s easier to manipulate once the resin hardens – should be clean and free of dust and tiny particles.
Add a thin layer of resin to your container as it’s flat and level. Make sure the layer covers the entire bottom. Pouring more than one layer is better for a floating effect. Remove any bubbles with a toothpick or heat gun. Then insert your completely dried flowers into the resin. Use your craft sticks to arrange the flowers, potentially face down.
What is currently the bottom of the mold is going to be the front display of the finished cured resin product. So let your bottom layer cure with the flowers set in place. But some brands may require the second layer added before the first layer is done.
Step 3 – Casting the Mold
After putting your flowers into place, you can cast the final layer. Add more resin into the mold until the flowers are fully covered, and the mold is full.
Step 4 – Removing Air Bubbles
Once again, remove any air bubbles with a toothpick. There is also the method of using a straw to blow on the resin to pop all the bubbles. But this method is more challenging for beginners.
Step 5 – Curing and Finishing
How long your product will take to finish curing varies by product. So, you must read and follow all manufacturer directions.
Although most resins feel dry to the touch, it doesn’t cure completely for 48 to 72 hours. While waiting for your flowers to cure, leave them in the mold.
Once it’s cured, you can take the pieces out of the silicone. But if you notice the resin is still not fully hardened – there’s still some flexibility – make sure to level it out evenly. Then let it sit longer to cure.
You have to clean your product after you have it completely cured. You might feel rough spots on the edges or along the back. You can easily remove these trouble areas with sandpaper. But you shouldn’t have this issue if you use silicone molds.
Is It Better to Seal the Flowers Before Casting Them in Resin?
Sealing your flowers before you cast them in a resin mold can ensure that there won’t be any unwanted changes to the blooms.
Putting your blooms into the resin without a protective sealant can cause a loss of vibrant color, trapped air bubbles, and deterioration of dried flowers.
The Glue Sealing Method of Flower Preservation
One option is to seal your flowers with ModPodge or clear glue. Unfortunately, the thickness of these products might affect the translucence. But you can thin the solution by adding water.
To seal your flowers with glue, you can either dip the flowers down into the resin. Or you can use a soft-bristled fine brush to brush the glue on both sides gently.
Although it is easy to seal your flowers before covering them in resin, some flowers might suffer from dull colors.
The Hairspray Method of Flower Preservation
Hairspray or a lacquer spray is another easy way to seal your flowers. You can use this method for a quick, inexpensive fix by applying the spray to both sides of the flower.
But this method is messy and leaves behind a sticky residue. And many times, you’ll need to apply multiple layers to get a good protective coating.
Best Type of Flowers to Seal With Resin
You can suspend any flower in resin if you completely dry out the flowers first. You can use resin to preserve real or artificial flowers.
|ADVANTAGES OF SEALING WITH RESIN||DOWNSIDES OF SEALING WITH RESIN|
|Perfect preservation of flowers||Requires safety precautions|
|Works for any dried-out blooms||It can take several days to cure fully|
|Made into many crafts|
Can Wax Preserve Them?
Wax-coated flowers are not permanent preservation. But it can make your blooms last longer – up to six months.
And when you wax-dip your flowers, it preserves the flower’s original color and flower shape. So besides how it feels, you wouldn’t be able to tell a wax-covered flower from a regular bloom.
Materials Needed to Dip Flowers in Wax
If you want to preserve your flowers in wax, you’ll need a saucepan – that you don’t use for cooking food. And you’ll also need paraffin wax.
How to Dip Flowers in Wax
You should start by boiling water in your saucepan. Then add in the wax and melt until it becomes smooth and even.
Then switch the stove on low to let the wax mixture cool while staying warm. Finally, dip your best blooms into the wax and immediately pull them out.
Turn them upside down and hang them to dry.
|ADVANTAGES OF DIPPING FLOWERS IN WAX||DOWNSIDES OF DIPPING FLOWERS IN WAX|
|Retains real, authentic look and color||Not a permanent method of preservation|
|Easy to do||It only lasts six months|
|Makes beautiful keepsakes|
How Effective Is Sand/Kitty Litter?
Sand and kitty litter are alternate ways to dry flowers without silica gel. However, this method takes longer and doesn’t always work consistently.
Materials Needed to Preserve Flowers with Sand or Kitty Litter
Things that you will need to preserve flowers with this method are
- Airtight container – plastic or glass
- Kitty litter or sand
How to Preserve Flowers Using Sand or Kitty Litter
To use kitty litter or sand to dry out your flowers, you’ll need to trim the stems to around 1″ from the flower head.
Add your flowers to a larger container face up, face down for flat plants, or on their sides for long blooms. Pour the particles gently over your flowers, extending an inch above the petals.
Cover your container and let it set for 10 to 21 days. Then, be gentle when taking your flowers out. The heaviness of kitty litter and sand can cause damage to the flowers and petals.
Best Type of Flowers to Dry With Sand/Kitty Litter
As long as your flowers can fit and you have enough ingredients to fill the airtight container, you can preserve nearly any flower.
Popular choices are:
- Bachelor buttons
Larger, more delicate flowers can be more difficult to preserve with kitty litter due to the material’s weight. In addition, it can damage the flower shape.
|ADVANTAGES OF DRYING WITH SAND||DOWNSIDES OF DRYING WITH SAND|
|Inexpensive||It takes longer than other methods|
|Easy to obtain items||Can cause damage to flowers|
|Used on many types of flowers|
What to Do With Dried Flowers?
Once you’ve dried your flowers, you can do many different things with them. Here is a short list of other applications where you can use dried flowers.
- Wedding Bouquet Preservation
- Botanical Coasters
- Cell Phone Cover
- Flower pot Holders
- Picture Stands
- Paper Weights, Wind Chimes or Sun-Catchers
Flower Drying FAQ
How do you preserve flowers without them dying?
To keep fresh flowers alive while you prepare them for preservation, you need to take all the moisture out of the blooms. Air drying is the easiest, safest way.
What can you do with dead flowers?
Air drying flowers with unflavored dental floss suspended upside down and then sealed can keep dead flowers from losing their petals.
How do you preserve flowers the longest?
The longest ways to preserve flowers are silica gel, resin, pressing, or air drying and sealing.
How do you seal and preserve flowers?
You can seal flowers with unscented hairspray, acrylic spray, wax, silica, or resin.
Excited to Preserve Your Own Flowers Yet?!
Drying flowers is an excellent way to save your special occasion blooms so they last past the time of their peak growth. There are different ways to preserve flowers and what you can do with your flowers once maintained.
From my own experience, choosing the correct method will depend on your needs and how careful you want to be with your flowers. Either way, you’ll have some beautifully saved blooms for quite a long time!
Preserved Flowers and Diamonds Last Forever
With flowers like these there’ll never be a need to buy any more! But in case you want to know more about caring for plants that are living, check out one of the articles below or be amazed at our growing collection how-to-houseplant guides. Already know how to care for them? Then swing by the gear shop to be up to date on all the basic houseplant gear necessities.
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