People have been preserving flowers for decades, using a multitude of different strategies.
Some people preserve flowers for a hobby. Pressed flowers can look amazing when added to scrapbooks, journals, photo frames or albums. While others just want to maintain the beauty and sentimental value of a specific arrangement.
Many brides choose to keep at least a couple of blooms from their wedding bouquet as permanent momentos. Mothers will keep flowers from baby bouquets and it’s quite common to want to preserve flowers from other special days or occasions.
Here are just some of the best ways to make your blooms last longer.
When used in the preservation process, glycerine gradually replaces the water in a plant, allowing flowers to keep their graceful, supple appearance. The great thing about glycerine is that your flowers won’t feel dry, papery or brittle and they won’t crumble to pieces as they age.
However, as with most dried flowers, there is a good chance that the colour of the petals will fade with time. Many people who prefer to preserve using glycerine also add food colouring and other dyes to maintain a certain shade.
Air drying is one of the simplest (and cheapest) ways to preserve flowers. To air dry a plant, you'll need to remove all the leaves from the stem of the flower as this helps it to dry quicker. To dry an entire bouquet at once, tie your flowers into small bundles of three or four, and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area.
Avoid exposing the drying flowers to sunlight. Air drying completely can take several months depending on the flower in question.
Be warned though. The blooms will be very brittle by the end of the process, so you'll need to be careful when handling them.
I dried my own wedding bouquet this way and stored it safely away in a box. The petals kept their colour well (other than becoming darker), but when we moved house, the box must have been dropped and much of the bouquet crumbled away to nothing.
If you're looking for something a little faster and more effective than air drying (and you don’t mind letting someone else do the preserving for you), you could consider having your blossoms preserved using a freeze-drying machine instead.
This method is really quite expensive, and for the odd occasion when you want to preserve some flowers, you probably won’t want to buy the machinery yourself. Instead, look around for a good professional service.
When flowers are freeze-dried, they're frozen at a temperature of under 100 Kelvin for at least 12 hours. Moisture is removed from the flowers using a vacuum pump in a special machine so that petals won't deteriorate with time.
If you’re careful, freeze dried flowers not only maintain their colour, but they also maintain their scent! which is great for when you want to preserve the memories in a specific bouquet. However, only certain hardy flowers like carnations and roses can withstand the freeze-drying process.
"Pressing" is a very popular and traditional way of preserving flowers. The process works best with flowers that are already delicate and flat in style, like violas, pansies, daisies or poppies, as you'll be removing all the volume and texture from the plant.
Thicker, more voluminous flowers like marigolds, dahlias and zinnias can be a problem, as they take a long time to dry out and can go mouldy during the process.
Although you can pinch out petals to stop this happening, it gets more complicated.
You will need to ensure you pick young, fresh flowers in the best original condition and make sure they are not wet with rain or dew.
Try to press them immediately after picking (or as soon as possible) so they look their best.
Use a dedicated flower press, or press the old-fashioned way by placing the buds inside a book, then putting a heavy object on top of the book.
Place the flowers face down on a piece of smooth, white paper with no texture. Fold the paper over, so the flowers are completely enclosed, then place flat, inside a heavy book
Put a brick or other similar heavy object in top, exposing the flowers to a consistent degree of pressure. Leave them here for an extended period - usually four to six weeks.
If you try to remove the flowers before they are completely dry, they will break.
After enough time has passed, you'll be able to remove the flowers and place them into a frame, store they away safely as keepsakes or use them as decorations for scrapbooks or handmade cards.
Most of the methods used to preserve flowers remove the moisture from the plant. Silica gel is a substance specifically designed to draw moisture from a space, which makes it ideal for people who want to make their plants last for as long as possible.
To preserve your blooms using silica gel, you'll need to submerge the plants into the crystals. In most types of silica gel, the silicon dioxide crystals will gradually change colour as they pull more moisture from the flowers. You may need to replace the gel a couple of times to thoroughly dry each plant. Make sure to check your blossoms every couple of days to ensure that they don't become too dehydrated.
Finally, if you really want to get creative with your preservation methods, you can try using Epoxy resin. This clear-coloured substance dries as hard as glass, which means that you can use it to create paperweights and even jewellery with your flowers.
Simply purchase a mould from a craft store and arrange your flowers within it. Fill the frame with resin, and let it dry for several days. The result is a stunning keepsake that you can pass down to new generations.
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