How to press flowers the right way

July 29, 2015

Pressing flowers and leaves is the oldest and most commonly used method of preserving plant material. Here's what you need to know before getting started.

How to press flowers the right way

A brief introduction to pressing flowers

  • Moisture is extracted from the plants by flattening them under pressure, making them paper thin. This method is more time consuming than air or desiccant drying, but the results are more permanent.
  • Pressed flowers will last for many years as long as they are kept away from moisture, insects and ultraviolet light.
  • As a general rule, the less succulent a flower the better it will retain its colour when pressed. Orchids, for example, are very succulent and lose most of their colour, while pansies keep theirs because of their relatively low moisture content. Intensity of colour is also a good indicator.
  • Bright flowers usually hold their colour well; pastel blooms do not. Once flowers are pressed, they can be used to make a still life flower picture and to decorate stationery, bookmarks, greeting cards and candles.

Start with the press

An inexpensive flower press can be made from two 30-centimetre-square (12-inch-square) pieces of 1.5-centimetre-thick (1/2-inch-thick) plywood.

  • Drill holes in the four corners or each piece of plywood.
  • You'll also need four eight-centimetre (three-inch) bolts with wing nuts, two pieces of cardboard, and some newspaper and sheets of blotting paper.

The steps

  1. Arrange the flowers on blotting paper.
  2. Cover the flowers with another sheet of blotting paper.
  3. Place them in the press between layers of newspaper and cardboard.
  4. Close the press, insert the bolts and tighten the nuts so that all parts fit snuggly together.
  5. Store the press in a warm, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  6. Replace the layers of newspaper on either side of the blotting paper on a daily basis for the first seven days.
  7. Leave the flowers in the press for another two to four weeks, taking care not to disturb them.

Extra tips

  • The pressing time is determined by the moisture content of the individual flower. Most common flowers will take between two to five weeks.
  • The lowers are ready when they feel paper thin and dry, and are completely flat, without curling at the edges.
  • Flowers should be stored flat and well away from heat, moisture and light. They must also be protected from insects.
  • Keep small quantities of lowers in a box, large quantities between sheets of acid-free paper pressed inside an old telephone directory.

Keep these tips in mind and preserve your flowers the right way.

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