We use a lot of flowers around here for purposes other than decoration, from calendula for skin to dandelions for iced dandelion lime tea. While I enjoy a vase of fresh flowers as much as the next person, the practical side of me always wishes for a way to extend the enjoyment.
I did a little research, and as a result, here are five natural ways to preserve flowers so their beauty lasts for weeks (even months!).
How to Make Dried Flowers for Lasting Beauty & Benefits
Yes, they’re pretty, but flowers have other benefits. Science has shown flowers make us happier!
I may be known for suggesting gifts other than flowers (preferably, experiences!), but there are tangible benefits to this popular gesture. In 2005 researchers explored how flowers impact behavior. People who received flowers were happier and had more positive interactions with those around them. The flowers even positively affected the recipient’s memory!
Fresh flowers can get expensive though! (I personally love to receive potted plants for this reason.) One other approach though is to dry flowers in order to preserve them (and the positive emotions!). Dried flowers are one of the simplest and most classic ways to preserve flowers and make the enjoyment last.
Which Flowers Work Best
Flowers that are delicate can crumble more easily when dried, so sturdy flowers work best. Sunflowers and daisies usually lose their petals when dried, so they’re not the best candidates for dried flowers.
Here are some flowers that work well:
Tip: Flowers are best preserved when they’re vibrant and before they’re fully opened. Don’t’ wait until they’re dying!
How to Make Beautiful Dried Flowers at Home
There are three basic ways (that I know of) to dry flowers: by hanging, by pressing, or in wax.
Option 1: Dry Flowers by Hanging
Pros: Easy to do, little prep time. Ideal method for flowers and herbs that may be used in tinctures.
Cons: Some fading and loss of color. Will crumble easily if touched.
- Coat hanger
- Brown paper bags (optional)
- Remove the leaves from the stem so the flowers dry better.
- Arrange the flowers in small bundles. Space the flowers out so there’s enough airflow and the blooms aren’t smashed together.
- Tie twine around the flower stems and pull it tight. The stems will shrink some as the flowers dry.
- Tie the twine to a clothes hanger. Each coat hanger will fit about 2-3 flower bundles.
- Hang the flowers in a warm, dry place for 2-3 weeks or until dry.
Tips for Success:
- Moisture will prevent the flowers from drying properly and can cause them to get moldy.
- There should be air circulation, but make sure there aren’t any breezes nearby!
- Direct sunlight causes the petal color to fade. Covering flowers with a paper bag while they’re drying can help. Once the flowers are tied, gently place the flower heads into an open paper bag and secure with some twine.
Storage and Shelf Life
Keep the flowers away from direct sunlight and protect them from gusts of wind. When stored properly, dry flowers will last for years, if not indefinitely.
Option 2: Dry Flowers by Pressing
Pros: Easy, low prep, and perfect for framing
Cons: Will lose the three-dimensional beauty; only works with certain flowers
This well known method to preserve flowers works best on blooms that are naturally more flat. There are some inspiring wooden flower presses available, but good old-fashioned books work just as well. According to Better Homes and Gardens, here are some flowers that work well for pressing.
Flowers that work well for pressing:
- Shrub roses
- Miniature roses
Pressed Flowers Supplies
- Heavy books or flower press
- Absorbent paper (newspaper, regular printer paper, etc. NOT wax paper or paper towels)
Pressed Flowers Instructions
- Snip the stems from the flowers as close to the base as possible.
- Lay a sheet of paper on the pages of the book. Arrange the flowers on the paper so they don’t touch each other.
- Lay another sheet of paper on top, then close the book or flower press.
- Stack heavy books on top and leave it be for several weeks.
Storage and Shelf Life
Pressed flowers will last indefinitely when stored properly. Keep them away from excessive heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. The flowers can be displayed in a glass frame, or laminated for things like bookmarks.
Option 3: Preserve Flowers in Wax
Pros: Lasts indefinitely and preserves color better than the other methods
Cons: Time-intensive and can be finicky; more to clean up.
I use beeswax in everything from homemade deodorant to non-toxic candles. Turns out it’s also handy for preserving flowers. Paraffin wax is typically used to wax flowers. However, like petroleum jelly, paraffin is a by-product of oil refining so I prefer to skip it. Soy wax is often used, but it comes from highly refined GMO crops (definitely not eco-friendly), so it’s also on my no list. So that leaves us with beeswax.
Wax Flowers Supplies
- Beeswax (about 1 cup)
- Wide mouth Mason Jar
- Metal Spoon
Wax Flowers Instructions
- Fill the pot half full of water and place it over medium/high heat on the stove.
- Put the beeswax into the jar and place the jar in the water.
- Stir occasionally with a spoon until fully melted.
- Quickly dip the flower into the wax, making sure it’s fully submerged.Large flowers like roses need more wax than something like daisies.
- Pull the flower up out of the wax, but keep the head still in the jar: give it a spin so the excess wax comes off.
- Dry flowers upright for a few hours until hardened.
Tips for Success:
This method is a little trickier than the others and takes some trial and error.
- The wax should be hot enough to smoothly coat the petals, but not so hot it cooks them.
- The wax made the pink and red flowers duller and faded. However the method works beautifully for leaves, yellow, and orange-toned flowers.
- Flowers with petals that aren’t tight together work best (flowers should be completely bloomed and open). Delicate flowers that won’t hold up to the heat of the wax are also a poor choice.
Storage and Shelf Life
Waxed flowers will last about 1-4 weeks, although some people have reported theirs have lasted for years. Keep them out of direct sunlight.
Fun Uses for Dried Flowers
Here are some ideas to use dried flowers:
- Mount pressed flowers in a picture frame and hang them like art. Frames that are clear glass on both sides work well for this!
- Put pressed flowers on some scrapbook paper to make a bookmark. Cover it in contact paper or laminate.
- Arrange and put in shadow boxes (these are like picture frames but much thicker for large items).
- Make a wreath with dried flowers to hang in the home.
- You can make handmade paper from paper scraps and add flower petals for color.
- Decorate gifts by tying with some twine and tucking dried flowers in the twine.
- Pressed flowers can even be used to decorate a smartphone. Simply arrange the flowers on the phone back, then snap a clear phone cover over them.
- Memory books and scrapbooks are another way to keep pressed flowers. Be sure to use very flat blooms and cover them with modge podge, contact paper, or something similar so they don’t crumble on the page.
Have you ever dried flowers before? What are some ways you use the dried blooms?
Haviland-Jones, J., Rosario, H. H., Wilson, P., & McGuire, T. R. (2005). An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers. Evolutionary Psychology. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/147470490500300109