Preserving flowers is a popular and meaningful craft. It helps people keep special memories alive, like saving flowers from a wedding bouquet. This hobby is easy to learn and loved by many who enjoy working on crafts involving flowers.
This guide will help you understand and start preserving your own flowers, using clear and simple steps suitable for everyone.
Why We Preserve Flowers
Preserving the prettiest flowers, be it wedding bouquets or old anniversary arrangements,is driven by the desire to capture a moment forever. This act turns a flower's short lifespan into a lasting keepsake, a tangible memory that endures over time.
Over time, flower preservation techniques have evolved, providing different methods to suit preferences and purposes. Each course has its appeal and is chosen based on the desired outcome, the type of flower, and how it will be used.
Here's an overview of popular flower preservation techniques:
1. Air Drying
Air drying is the most traditional and natural method. It's unique for its simplicity and requires no special materials or chemicals—robust flowers like roses, lavender and hydrangeas are ideal for preserving whole bouquets and are suitable for crafting.
Materials Needed: Flowers, string or rubber bands, scissors, and a dry and dark space
- Step 1: Select and Cut Flowers - Choose flowers that are not fully bloomed. Cut the stems to the desired length.
- Step 2: Remove Excess Leaves - Strip off any leaves from the branch to prevent mould.
- Step 3: Tie Stems Together - Group a few stems and tie them with string or a rubber band at the base.
- Step 4: Hang Upside Down - Find a dark, dry, and well-ventilated area. Hang the tied flowers upside down.
- Step 5: Wait and Check - Leave the flowers for 2-4 weeks. Check periodically until they are completely dry.
Moreover, air-dried flowers are suitable for various crafting projects. They can be used to make decorative wreaths, framed botanical art or even homemade potpourri.
Pressing flowers flattens them, creating a two-dimensional appearance perfect for framed art, scrapbooking or making bookmarks. Delicate, flat flowers like pansies, violets and ferns are ideal for pressing due to their naturally thin and pliable petals.
Materials Needed: Flowers, heavy books, absorbent paper (parchment or blotting paper) and a flower press (optional).
- Step 1: Prepare Flowers - Choose flat flowers and cut the stem, leaving just the bloom.
- Step 2: Arrange on Paper - Place the flowers face down on one sheet of absorbent paper.
- Step 3: Press - Cover with another sheet of paper. Place inside a heavy book or a flower press. Add more books or weight on top if necessary.
- Step 4: Wait - Leave undisturbed for 2-4 weeks. Check occasionally for dryness.
The pressing method captures the fleeting beauty of flowers, allowing you to treasure them for years. It's a favourite for saving special memories.
3. Silica Gel Drying
Silica gel preserves flowers' three-dimensional structure and vibrant colour, which is difficult to achieve with other drying methods. Silica gel rapidly absorbs moisture from the flowers, preventing colour fading and shape distortion.
Materials Needed: Flowers, silica gel, an airtight container, and a soft brush.
- Step 1: Prepare Container - Pour an inch of silica gel into the container.
- Step 2: Position Flowers - Place flowers on the silica gel without them touching.
- Step 3: Cover with Silica Gel - Gently sprinkle more silica gel over the flowers until completely covered.
- Step 4: Seal and Store - Close the container and keep it in a dry place.
- Step 5: Check and Remove - Carefully uncover and remove the flowers after a week. Use a soft brush to remove any remaining silica gel.
Moisture-rich and delicate flowers like orchids, peonies and chrysanthemums benefit significantly from this method, as the silica gel gently and effectively draws out moisture while maintaining the flower's original shape and hue.
4. Epoxy Resin Encapsulation
Flower resin preservation creates a beautiful, durable and decorative piece. It's unique for its ability to make jewellery, paperweights and keepsakes. Flowers like roses, daisies, or even smaller arrangements can be suspended in resin, giving the appearance of a flower frozen in time.
Materials Needed: Dried flowers, epoxy resin, a mould or container, mixing tools, gloves, and a well-ventilated area.
- Step 1: Dry Flowers - Use any previous method to dry the flowers first.
- Step 2: Mix Resin - Follow the manufacturer's instructions to mix the resin and hardener.
- Step 3: Arrange in Mould - Place the dried flowers into the mould.
- Step 4: Pour Resin - Gently pour the mixed resin over the flowers, ensuring they are completely covered.
- Step 5: Remove Bubbles and Cure - Let it sit for a few minutes to let bubbles rise to the surface and pop them. Cure for 24-72 hours.
5. Acrylic Water Arrangements
Acrylic flower preservation mimics the look of fresh flowers in water. Unique for creating permanent, lifelike floral arrangements that don't require maintenance. This method involves arranging synthetic flowers in a vase and pouring a mixture that resembles water but solidifies into a clear, hard substance.
Materials Needed: Dried or silk flower. Silk flowers are artificial blooms made from silk or similar fabrics. They mimic the appearance of real flowers but don't wilt or die. You will also need a vase, and an acrylic water kit (consisting of resin and hardener).
- Step 1: Arrange Flowers in Vase - Position your flowers in the vase as desired.
- Step 2: Mix Acrylic Water - Follow the kit's instructions to mix the resin and hardener.
- Step 3: Pour into the Vase - Pour the mixture around the stems in the vase.
- Step 4: Set and Cure - Adjust the flower arrangement before the mixture sets. Let it cure for 24-48 hours.
The result is a stunning arrangement that looks fresh and realistic—any flower, mainly when used for interior decor, as it provides a new look indefinitely. Acrylic water-arranged flowers are a good housewarming gift choice.
6. Glycerin Preservation
Glycerin replaces the water in plant cells, leaving flowers supple and pliable. It's unique for preserving colour and texture, making flower arrangements feel fresh. Foliage and woody plants like eucalyptus, palm leaves or even whole small branches can be exceptionally well-preserved using this method.
Materials Needed: Glycerin, water, a big container and flowers of your choosing or branches.
- Step 1: Mix Solution - Combine one part of glycerin with two pieces of water in your container. Stir until the glycerin is fully dissolved.
- Step 2: Prepare Flowers/Branches - Trim the stems or branches to a length of 6-8 inches and remove unwanted leaves.
- Step 3: Soak - Place the flowers or branches into the glycerin solution. Ensure they are fully submerged.
- Step 4: Wait and Check - Leave the flowers in the solution for 2-6 weeks. Check periodically until the flowers have absorbed the glycerin and are pliable.
The glycerin treatment allows these plants to maintain their natural flexibility and vibrant colours unlike other drying methods. These other methods include air drying, which can leave them brittle or faded.
Freeze-drying maintains the flower's original shape, colour, and sometimes even scent by freezing and then removing moisture in a vacuum. It's a high-fidelity preservation method often used for preserving delicate flowers and wedding bouquets.
Materials Needed: Fresh flowers and a professional freeze-dryer (you can order this device online). It features advanced moisture extraction technology and precise temperature controls specifically designed for optimal flower drying.
- Step 1: Pre-treatment - Fresh flowers are often treated with starch or other preservatives like Ethylene Blockers which are chemicals that slow down the ageing process of flowers by blocking ethylene, a natural gas that accelerates wilting.
- Step 2: Freezing - Place the flowers in the freeze-dryer, frozen to very low temperatures between -30°C to -50°C.
- Step 3: Vacuum and Sublimation - The freeze-dryer begins by chilling the flowers, causing the moisture inside to freeze. Then, it creates a vacuum around the flowers, eliminating any air. In this vacuum, the ice within the flowers transitions directly into a gas and is extracted.
- Step 4: Gradual Warming - After the process, which can take weeks, the flowers gradually return to room temperature and are beautifully preserved. They retain their original shape, colour, and even some texture.
You want to preserve almost any type of flower, particularly entire bouquets or unique flowers, as close to their natural state as possible. This can be achieved through freeze-drying.
Best Practices And Care Tips For DIY-Preserved Flowers
Specific best practices should be followed to ensure the longevity and beauty of preserved flowers. These include:
Select Fresh Flowers
Choose flowers that are just about to reach full bloom. Fresh flowers, free from blemishes and wilting, yield the best results in preservation. This stage ensures that the flowers maintain their shape and colour better during drying.
Clean and Trim
Before preserving, remove dirt off the petals and trim the stems to your desired length. Removing excess leaves reduces the risk of mould and ensures a more aesthetically pleasing result. Scissors or gardening shears are ideal for trimming.
Handle flowers delicately to maintain their natural shape, which is especially crucial in methods like pressing or silica gel drying. Delicate handling prevents damage to the petals and ensures the flowers look as natural as possible after preservation.
Monitor Drying Process
Regularly check the moisture content of the flowers, texture, odour, and colour during the drying process. This allows you to adjust environmental conditions and ensure the flowers are drying correctly. Consistent monitoring is critical to avoiding issues like mould or over-drying.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Display preserved flowers away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. Sunlight can cause the colours to deteriorate over time, so a shaded, well-ventilated area is best for displaying dried flowers.
Maintain Low Humidity
Keep preserved flowers in low-humidity environments, preferably from 18°C to 22°C. High humidity can lead to deterioration or mould, so storing or displaying them in a dry area is best. A dehumidifier can help in naturally humid environments.
Regularly dust preserved flowers with a soft brush or gentle bursts of compressed air. This maintains their appearance and prevents dust accumulation, which can fade colours and details over time.
Conclusion On DIY Flower Preservation
DIY flower preservation is a captivating blend of nature and creativity. It allows you to capture fleeting moments and transform them into lasting memories.
Techniques like air drying and resin preservation offer gateways to artistic expression and connection with nature's wonders.
So, gather your blooms, ready your tools, and step into the magical world of flower preservation, where every petal and leaf tells a story.
Frequently Asked Questions On DIY Flower Preservation
What Are The Challenges In Wedding Flower Bouquet Preservation?
Ideally, the process should begin soon after the wedding to keep the flowers fresh. Since bouquets often include different flowers, each with its preservation requirements, it can complicate things. Moreover, the size and intricate design of wedding bouquets can make preserving them as they were on the wedding day challenging.
How Do I Display Preserved Flowers In My Home?
Use shadow boxes or frames to showcase pressed flowers in a flat, artistic way at home.
For three-dimensional preserved flowers, glass domes or cloches protect plants from cold temperatures and dust from all angles. Arranging dried flowers in vases or creating decorative wreaths are also great options to add a touch of nature to your home decor.
What Are The Most Common Mistakes To Avoid In DIY Flower Preservation?
To avoid common mistakes in DIY flower preservation, start the process with fresh flowers. Avoid using flowers with excessive moisture to prevent mould growth. Additionally, protect preserved flowers from harsh conditions such as direct sunlight, high humidity, or extreme temperatures.
Handle the flowers with care after preservation, as they become more delicate. Maintaining a clean working area and tools, and being gentle and patient throughout the process, are crucial to prevent these issues.
Can All Types Of Flowers Be Preserved?
Preserving flowers can vary in success and ease depending on the species and individual flower. Thicker, robust flowers like roses, peonies, and orchids generally preserve well. Delicate, thin-petalled flowers may be more challenging and not hold up as well over time.
Research and experimentation with specific flower types can yield optimal results. Some flowers may require special treatment or techniques tailored to their specific needs.