How to Preserve Flowers

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

Your beautiful flowers don't have to wilt once their season is done. Preserving flowers allows you to have beautiful, full bouquets well into the winter months. Drying flowers is an easy project that will let you keep your house colorful, without the hassle of changing water and throwing out dead flowers. Read the tips listed below and learn about how to preserve flowers.

  • Hanging The easiest way to preserve flowers is to hang them. Bunch the flowers up around the base of the stems. Hang them upside down in a dark, warm and dry room for one to three weeks. If you're drying several bouquets of flowers, place a fan in the room to circulate the air properly. Flowers that dry especially well using this method include hydrangeas, marigolds and Chinese lanterns [source: Gouin].
  • Glycerine A fantastic way to preserve flowers is to use glycerine. The flower absorbs the glycerine, replacing its water content with it. This keeps your flowers supple and bright. Simply place the stems of fresh flowers in a mixture of two parts lukewarm water to one part glycerine (car antifreeze is a good solution). Let the flowers to sit in the mixture for two to three weeks. If you notice that the flowers begin to wilt after you take them out of the mixture, hang the flowers upside down, so that the mixture reaches the wilted parts [source: Smith]. Flowers that dry especially well using this method include magnolias, bells of Ireland and forsythia [source: Gouin].
  • Chemical drying Create a mixture of equal parts borax and cornmeal or oatmeal. This mixture will allow open flowers to dry while retaining their shape and color. Place the flowers in a shallow box lined with newspaper. The box should be 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) off the floor. Punch holes in the bottom of the box and the newspaper so that you can feed the flower stems through. Sift the borax mixture on the top of the flowers and in between the petals until the flowers are lightly coated. Leave them in the box for 1 to 3 weeks, until they're dry [source: Gouin].

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Originally Published: Jul 13, 2011

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.

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