Preserving Wildflowers

wildflowers

Most wild flowers soon wither if you pick them, but you can preserve them for a long time by pressing or drying them. Choose only flowers that you know are common, and do not pick them unless there are lots of them. Remember to pick a stem with a leaf, or take a separate leaf to press with it.

Flat flower heads like buttercups, violets, Blue Columbine, Wild Flax, and Prairie Star press well. Avoid very bulky flower heads like Red Clover, sunflowers, or Teasel. It is better to dry those. Take a plastic bag to put the flowers in. It will help to keep them fresh until you get home.

Pressing Wildflowers

You can buy a flower press ready-made, or you can make your own.

materials

What you will need to get started

  • Flowers
  • Paper Towels
  • Cardboard or newspaper
  • Several heavy books. (You can use out-of-date telephone directories or any heavy books like encyclopedias).
  • A warm dry room to make your press
  • Table or cupboard

Step 1

  1. Arrange the flowers and leaves carefully on the sheets of paper towel. Give each flower enough room, and remember it will press dry just as you have arranged it.

Step 2

  1. Start with a piece of cardboard or four layers of folded newspaper on a flat, hard surface. Lay a paper towel with flowers on top of it. Put another sheet of paper towel and then cardboard or folded newspaper on top of it.
  2. Go on adding layers of flowers between paper towels and cardboard or newspaper until you have a stack no more than 6 inches high. Finish with a cardboard or newspaper layer.

Step 3

  1. Carefully place the heavy books on top of the stack.
  2. Leave the flowers alone for two weeks. Then peel the paper back gently and check that the flowers are flat and dried. If they are not, leave them for another week.

Drying Wildflowers

wildflowers2

Drying is even better than pressing for preserving wild flowers. It keeps their shape as well as their color, and in some cases dried flowers are hard to tell from fresh ones.

Members of the daisy family, like daisies, thistles, and dandelions all dry well. Thistles, Field Scabious, and roses are good too. Always pick the flowers just before they are in full bloom.

Don't pick any flowers that are beginning to fade or wither, unless of course you wait until they go to seed. Poppies, Teasel, and many other seed heads look very attractive dried. So do grasses.

Continue on to see how to air dry your own flowers!

Air-Drying Wildflowers

The easiest way to dry flowers is simply to tie them up in a bunch, hang them upside-down, and dry them for a few weeks.

What you will need to get started

  • Rubber bands
  • Dry airy place to hang the flowers
tied bunches of flowers hanging on pegs to dry

Steps

  1. Tie the flowers into a bunch with a rubber band. Don't put more than 8-10 stems into each bunch.
  2. Hang them upside-down in a dry, airy place for a few weeks. A linen cupboard is ideal because you can hang them easily. An attic, spare room, or garage is also fine, but you will need to fix up a pole or line to hang them from.

Continue on to learn another way dry more delicate flowers.

Drying More Delicate Flowers

Some flowers lose some of their shape and color if they are just air-dried. It's better to dry roses, lilies, and anemones using a mixture of cornmeal and borax, which you can buy from a supermarket or grocery store. This way preserves leaves better too.

What you will need to get started

  • Shoe box
  • Borax
  • Cornmeal
  • Flowers
  • Paintbrush
box

Step 1

  1. Find a box, like a shoe box, which is large enough to hold the flowers easily.

Step 2

  1. Mix equal parts of borax and cornmeal together, enough to half fill the box.
  2. Pour some of the mixture into the box to make a layer 1 inch deep.

Step 3

  1. Cut the flower stems so they fit into the box, and carefully arrange the flowers on top of the mixture without overlapping each other.
  2. Gently sprinkle some more of the mixture over the flowers until they are covered by a layer about 1-inch deep.
hand and paint brush

Step 4

  1. After a week, gently take the flowers from the box and dust off the drying mixture with an artist's paintbrush.