Most people want to hold on to items with sentimental value, even flowers. Whether they were a gift from a coworker, friend, for Mother’s Day or from your significant other, flowers bring a joy that we want to make last. To preserve your beautiful blooms, as well as those special memories, try flower pressing.
We’ll show you how to properly press flowers, so that these important blooms can remain in your collection for many years.
Picking the Right Flowers
Freshness is the key. Choose flowers that are either still in bud form, or that are freshly bloomed. If you’re picking them from a garden, do so in the morning right after the dew has evaporated.
Once you have chosen the flowers you would like to press, they need to be prepped. If you can’t press them right away, place them in a ziplock bag and store them in the refrigerator. When you are ready to press, there are a few steps to take to ensure the flowers keep their color and freshness:
- To allow for maximum water absorption, hold the stems under water immediately after cutting. Then, recut the stems at an angle.
- Remove any leaves that will be below the waterline in the vase. If left on, those leaves will rot and can create bacteria that shortens the life of a flower.
- Place flowers in a clean vase with water and flower food, or a teaspoon of sugar. Keep them in a cool, ventilated place out of direct sunlight. You only need to hydrate your flowers for a few hours.
- One thing to note is that flowers with naturally flat faces are the easiest to press. To press thick flowers like orchids or roses, you should split them down the middle with scissors or a knife.
- Lay the flat face of the flower on your paper and you are ready to press.
Paper to Use
To press flowers, you must dry them out as quickly as possible to prevent browning. There are a number of different types of paper you can use to accomplish this, such as printer paper, flat cardboard, plain non-treated facial tissue or even non-corrugated coffee filters. Avoid paper towels, as many have textures that may end up imprinted on the petals.
Ways to Press
There are a few DIY options for pressing flowers, some requiring more materials than others. Experiment with each method to find the one that works best for you.
How to Use A Wooden Flower Press
Here’s how to make and use your own wooden flower press:
- Cut two pieces of plywood in 9-by-12-inch rectangles. Drill holes in each corner of the two boards; be sure they line up properly when stacked.
- Place the flower between the two pieces of paper, and much like a sandwich, layer it so that it is wood, paper, flower, paper, wood.
- Use wingnuts and bolts to tighten everything together. You’ll need to change the blotter sheets every four days or so (this helps prevent browning) and the flower will need to be pressed for three to four weeks.
You can buy a flower press from the store as well.
How to Press Flowers Using a Book
This is likely the most popular way to press flowers, as it is also the easiest. Choose the heaviest book you can find, such as a dictionary or phone book. The moisture being absorbed will cause the pages to wrinkle, so use a book you don’t mind damaging.
- Place the flower between two pieces of paper, and place them within the pages of the book. Depending on the size of the book, you can press multiple flowers at once. However, be sure to space them out so that the moisture from one flower doesn’t transfer to another.
- Use more books, or perhaps a brick, to weigh down the book once it is closed. Be sure not to disturb the arrangement of the flowers upon closing.
- Change the blotter sheets every few days here as well. After two to three weeks, the flowers will be completely dry. When removing, use a pair of tweezers, or very carefully use your fingers, as a completely dry flower is very delicate.
How to Press Flowers Using an Iron
If you don’t want to wait two to four weeks to complete your flower press, consider using an iron. As with all methods of pressing flowers, there are a few things to know first:
- Press the flowers between two absorbent pieces of paper, and then flatten with a heavy book.
- Make sure there is no water in the iron. The last thing you want to do is add moisture to the flower.
- Heat the iron on low. Once warm, press the iron on top of the upper sheet of paper for 10 to 15 seconds. You do not need to make a gliding motion the way you would when ironing a shirt. Wait for another 15 seconds until the paper has cooled, then repeat this process. Carefully lift the paper to check if the flower is stiff and dry.
How to Press Flowers Using a Microwave
Microwave presses are available for purchase, but you can easily make one yourself as well. Use two ceramic tiles and rubber bands to hold them together. You can microwave a book flower press, so long as the book doesn’t have any metal parts; yes, that includes little staples that may be holding the book together.
- When using a homemade press like ceramic tiles, line each side with a piece of cardboard and piece of paper. Place the flower in the middle and sandwich everything together.
- Using a low temperature (a high-heat setting can turn the flowers brown), heat for 30 to 60 seconds at a time, allowing everything to cool between each heat cycle.
- If you’re using books or have more than one ceramic press, save time and press multiple flowers by rotating one in while another cools.
- When the flowers are dry, complete the process by using the book method or traditional flower press. They should dry within two days.
Whether you grew them yourself or received them for a special occasion, the flowers that mean the most to you can remain in your collection for many years using any one of these pressing styles. And if you need new flowers to enjoy and then press, we’ve got a great selection from which to choose.