Pressing Flowers

November 04, 2017

Pressing Flowers

Pressing Flowers


Another way to preserve the beauty of summer flowers is to press them.  Pressing flowers removes the water, leaving you with a thin, delicate flower.  There are many uses for pressed flowers.  You can make a wildflower collection by gluing them to cards and putting them in an album.  Label each specimen with the collection date and location, and the common name and Latin name of the plant.  This is a good way to make a catalog of the flowers that grow near you.  Pressed flowers add a summery, personalized look to gifts and decorations.  You can use them to decorate cards, wall hangings, vases, and anything that would benefit from having flowers glued to it. 


The best types of flowers to press are flat and simple, like geraniums, pansies, and poppies.  It is challenging to press flowers that are bulky or complex, like lilies, roses, and daffodils.  When collecting flowers for pressing it is important to pick the prettiest ones you can find, as any flaws will be visible when they are dry.  Also, some flowers fade during pressing, so choose the brightest ones.  It is best to pick the flowers right before you are ready to press them, but you should be sure that there is no moisture on them.  You want them to be in good condition and not starting to decay, or they may turn brown.  You can press the flower head by itself, or you can leave it attached to the stem and leaves.  You can also press the leaves by themselves, of course. 


Be aware when picking flowers.  If you are picking them in the wild, take only one or two from each plant, and only if there are other plants in the area.  Always ask permission before picking flowers on private land.


You can use a flower press if you have one, but I have found that a heavy book works just as well.  Lay the flowers down on a flat sheet of paper.  Copy paper is a good choice because it is smooth and absorbent.  Avoid using paper towels.  They often have a pattern that is transferred to the flowers, and the flowers have a tendency to stick to the porous paper.  To keep the moisture from damaging the pages of the book you are using, add a layer of newspaper or construction paper to the outside of the copy paper.


When you have collected flowers and supplies, arrange the flowers on the copy paper in the way that you want them to look.  It may be helpful to smash them down a little bit, so that they stay where you want them, especially if there are a lot of petals or leaves.  To press more complicated flowers, such as orchids and roses, you can cut them into pieces and press them individually.  When dry you can glue the pieces back in position.  When they are properly arranged, lay another sheet of copy paper on top of them, and add a layer of the more absorbent paper on the top and bottom.  Then put the sandwich in the book and close.  I often put the book with the flowers in it back on the shelf to compress it more, but you can weigh it down with other books or bricks, or whatever you have laying around.  Check on them after two weeks.  If there is any moisture left, put them back for another few days.  It can take up to a month for flowers to be completely dry.  When they are dry, gently peel them from the paper.  It may be helpful to use tweezers.  Store them in a dark, dry place until you are ready to use them. 


That’s it!  Pressing flowers is fast and easy once you know how.



Sarah Lyon 


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