How to Preserve Flowers

By: Contributors  | 
Flower bouquets
It's almost impossible to pick a bouquet — there are so many gorgeous options!
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Preserving flowers is a beautiful way to capture memories and create lasting decorations. Whether you're looking to keep your wedding bouquet as a cherished memento or simply extend the life of a stunning floral arrangement, knowing how to preserve flowers is invaluable. This guide will explore various methods to keep your flowers looking fresh and timeless. We'll delve into the art of preserving flowers, ensuring that each petal and stem retains its beauty for years to come.


The Air Drying Method

Air drying is perhaps the most accessible method to preserve flowers. Start by selecting the right blooms; certain flowers like roses, lavender, and hydrangeas are ideal for this method. Remove excess leaves from the flower stems and tie them into small bundles with twine or rubber bands. Hang the bundles upside down in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and moisture. This process allows the flowers to dry naturally, typically taking at least a week but up to three weeks.

Once completely dry, your flowers will have a rustic, dried look, perfect for creating vintage bouquets or decorative arrangements. For an extra layer of protection, you can spray the flowers with unscented hairspray. Also, remember, flowers will lighten in color as they dry, so choose blooms with rich hues for the best results.


Pressing Flowers for Artistic Creations

Pressed flowers offer a flat, elegant look, ideal for artwork or crafts. When selecting flowers to press, look for specimens without blemishes and those that are not fully opened. Place the flowers between two sheets of waxed paper, parchment paper, newspaper, printer paper, coffee filters, or blotting paper within the pages of a heavy book. Arrange the petals carefully to avoid overlap, which can cause browning. Stack additional books on top for added pressure and leave them undisturbed for at least a week.

After a week, you may want to change the absorbent material. Keep in mind you'll need at least a few weeks for complete drying. Once dry, these pressed flowers can be used in a myriad of creative projects, from homemade greeting cards to decorative bookmarks.


How Silica Gel Preserves Freshness

Silica gel is excellent for preserving the three-dimensional shape and vibrant color of flowers. To use this method, bury the flowers completely in silica gel in an airtight container, making sure every petal is supported. Check the flowers after a few days; once they feel dry to the touch, gently remove them and brush off excess silica.

For best results, choose blooms that are not fully opened, as fully bloomed flowers may lose petals during the drying process. This method is particularly effective for delicate flowers like lilies and roses.


Encasing Flowers in Resin

Creating a resin-encased flower is like freezing a moment in time. After drying the flowers using the air dry or silica gel method, carefully arrange them in a silicone mold. Next, mix the epoxy resin according to the manufacturer's instructions, then slowly pour it over the flowers.

Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and use protective gear. Eliminate air bubbles by gently tapping the mold or using a heat gun. Resin preservation is a creative way to display flowers in paperweights, jewelry, or decorative ornaments.


Wax Preservation

Wax preservation can give flowers a stunning, ethereal quality. Melt paraffin wax in a saucepan over low heat, ensuring it doesn't boil. Dip the fresh flowers into the wax, twirling them to get an even coating. Carefully remove and allow the wax to harden. This method preserves the vibrant colors of the petals and can be used for flowers like roses, daisies, and hydrangeas. Waxed flowers are fragile, so handle them with care.


Glycerin for Soft and Supple Stems

Glycerin replaces the water in the plant, resulting in soft, pliable stems and leaves. Mix one part glycerin with two parts warm water, and place the cut stems into the solution. The flowers will gradually absorb the glycerin, taking up to six weeks. This method is especially good for foliage, like eucalyptus or ferns, giving them a rich, glossy appearance.


The Sand Drying Technique

Sand drying is a gentle way to preserve the natural shape of flowers. Use fine, dry sand and gently bury the flowers in a deep box, being careful not to crush the petals. Keep the flowers in a cool, dry area for about two to three weeks.

This method is ideal for flowers with a lot of detail, like roses or peonies. The sand supports the flowers as they dry, which can take several weeks depending on the flower type.


Freeze Drying Flowers

Cryogenic drying, also known as freeze drying, is a modern method that preserves flowers in their near-original state. This technique involves freezing the flowers at a very low temperature and then placing them in a vacuum to remove moisture. The result is stunningly preserved flowers that maintain their original color and shape. This method is typically done by professionals with specialized equipment.


Creating Dried Flower Potpourri

Turn your dried flowers into a delightful potpourri. Mix dried petals with essential oils like lavender or rose for fragrance, and add spices or dried herbs for texture. Store the potpourri in a decorative bowl or sachet bag. This is an excellent way to use up flowers that may have lost some of their visual appeal but still retain a lovely scent.


Preserving Whole Bouquets

To preserve an entire bouquet, such as a wedding bouquet, use a combination of the methods mentioned above. Carefully select the best preservation technique for each type of flower in the bouquet to ensure optimal results.

There are numerous ways to preserve flowers, each with its unique charm and beauty. From hanging flowers upside down to dry to encasing them in resin, each method offers a way to keep your precious floral memories alive. Whether you're preserving a wedding bouquet or just a simple vase of fresh flowers, these techniques will help you create lasting, beautiful displays that capture the essence of your special moments.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Preserve Flowers FAQ

How do you keep fresh flowers from dying?
Fresh flowers need to be in clean water to prevent them from wilting and eventually dying. But you can also extend their life by trimming their stems when you get them home. Adding a bit of plant food to the vase can also help your cut flowers last longer. Place them in a shaded and cool area with indirect sunlight, but away from any fruit (so ideally, not in the kitchen).
How do florists keep flowers fresh?
Florists use flower food to prolong the life and freshness of cut flowers. The solution generally have sugar and acid to keep the flower nourished and the pH level low. They also tend to store the flowers in a walk-in cooler to limit exposure to microorganisms and heat.
How long do glycerin preserved flowers last?
If you preserve a flower using glycerin, it will retain its shape and color for six to 12 months, though the color will darken slightly.
How long do pressed flowers last in a frame?
If the flowers have been properly dried and pressed, they can easily last upwards of ten years - even more if not shaken or handled - when framed.