Apart from sympathy flowers, most flowers coincide with a happy occasion. There are flowers for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations, weddings, other special occasions and of course, the flowers you get that are a complete surprise just because someone was thinking of you.
One of the arguments against flowers as a gift is that they are temporary. Cut flowers will die. It is inevitable. There are ways to extend how long they will last, but there is no way to make them last for years... or is there?
For those who want to create a lasting keepsake out of fresh flowers, we have several options for how to preserve those beautiful fresh flowers. Whether they are flowers from your garden or a beautiful bouquet that someone gifted to you, these preservation techniques help prevent you from having to throw them away.
Things to Consider
Before you start to preserve your flowers, it is a good idea to decide how you want them to look and how you plan to use them.
Before you Preserve
There are several different methods for preserving flowers. The state of your flowers will influence which preservation process you choose. Before you preserve, you will need to take an honest assessment of your flowers.
The best time to preserve flowers is when they are robust and in full bloom, so they can look beautiful in their preserved state. Look closely at your flowers. Analyze them as if you were a detective searching for clues. Are they hiding something? Have any petals fallen off? Has the flower turned brown or started to wilt? Is the stem limp? Do they have bad posture or a bad attitude?
It’s also a good idea to decide what you want to use your preserved flowers for before you select your preservation method, as different methods yield different results. Once you figure out that kind of keepsake you would like to create, it is time to dive right into the preservation process.
Before you get into this, there are some things you need to know. We don’t want to sugarcoat it, either. Treat your flowers like vampires. Keep them out of the sun. The sun will cause them to fade, so keep them away from any windows, sliding glass doors or other sources of natural light.
Not all flowers will be able to handle the preservation process. Even with the best care and the gentlest handling, some flowers may not withstand the process. In life, sometimes we must let things go.
However, with the right luck and knowledge, you should still have enough flowers for whatever way you want to use or display.
Methods of Preservation
Before you dry, resin, nuke or press, be sure to assess. The flowers and/or plants need to be dry, and only the supermodels of the bunch should be preserved.
Glycerin is amazing in that it can preserve the flowers with a life-like appearance. The glycerin solution, which is one part glycerin and two parts boiling water, replaces the water in the flower, and after the flowers and/or foliage have air-dried, the glycerin moves up the stem, walking the property as if it is a new homeowner. The flower or plant never dries out.
With this process, the plant or flowers stay nice and pliable. Negative aspects of this method involve costs and impermanence. The only negative aspect is that the colors can change. You can add food coloring or other dyes. As for the cost, it will be expensive and an additional cost of your time since it takes six weeks or more to set.
This one isn’t a DIY, but it does produce flowers with the same look and feel as they had when they were fresh. They even retain the scent!
Freeze drying requires a professional service. You can look online, or sometimes, your local florist might have a business relationship with a company. Freeze drying removes the moisture from the petals and gives you a lasting replica that looks identical but is fragile. This process can be expensive.
No need to find outside assistance for air drying, as anyone can do it. We all have access to air, or at least, we better or we will be worrying about preserving ourselves instead of flowers. That may be why it is the easiest way to preserve flowers. Simply remove the leaves, bind with twine or ribbon and hang the flowers upside down in a well-ventilated area away from sunlight.
This process can take weeks or months. Once they are dry, the flowers will be as brittle and breakable as Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the film “Unbreakable,” but they will have the same shape and scent as before. A quick spritz with hair spray or clear, floral spray may help strengthen them.
Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? If you were a flower someone was trying to preserve, that weight might be the weight of a book. You have probably seen pressed flowers before.
Pressing makes the preserved flowers flat, so if you want to use them in artwork or display them in a frame, this is the way to go. If you have a thick, heavy book and quite a bit of patience, this technique is effortless and yields wonderful results.
It is best to remove the stems. Trim all the way to the flower head. Open your large book and cover the open pages with liner or wax paper. Open and close the book to crease the liner or wax paper. Place the bud in the middle of one of the pages flat on the paper and close the book.
The paper will absorb the moisture. You need to check on it about once a week because the paper may need to be replaced. After about a month has passed, you will have a lovely, dried bloom.
For those whose patience is a bit more limited, there is a kitchen appliance that may hold the key. Did you know your microwave can offer an accelerated version of the pressing method? When the radiation of the microwave heats up the flowers, the moisture escapes as vapor, which dries the blooms.
For supplies, all you need are two microwave-safe ceramic plates, coffee filters, your blooms and a microwave. Start with your plate then place your coffee filter on it. Set your flower on top, then add your other filter and plate face-up.
Like when you heat leftovers, start with a minute and check it. If the flowers need to be drier, replace the flowers and nuke it again until preferred dryness is attained.
If you want to preserve your flowers into a cool memento like a knick-knack or paperweight, resin is the best method. Think about it, just like fossilized remains, your flowers could be encased in resin, too.
Decide what mold shape you want because you won’t be able to change it later. Fill up the mold halfway with the epoxy resin, arrange the flowers in the mold and fill the rest of the mold with more resin. Once the resin dries, you can remove the mold. You now have a cool, fossilized flower to display.
These techniques are ways to transform your fresh-cut flowers, bouquets and arrangements into keepsakes that will last. It starts with beautiful blooms, so contact our florists at Bouquet Florist and Gifts serving areas around West Sacramento, CA, to design a beautiful arrangement you will want to keep through the years.