How to Preserve Leaves and Flowers

Overview

When the summer is over and your garden winds down for the year, you can prolong your enjoyment of many flowers and leaves by preserving them for indoor arrangements. You can collect leaves and flowers and dry them at any time of year, but fall is the time that deciduous trees burst into color. You can add these leaves to dried arrangements with flowers from your garden and use them as centerpieces for your Thanksgiving table and in vases around your home.

Preserving Leaves

Step 1

Pick colorful leaves from trees or wait until they drop to the ground.

Step 2

Place several of your leaves between two sheets of waxed paper, cut to a size that will fit on your ironing board. Iron with a dry iron. This method preserves leaves immediately, so you can use them in arrangements right away. If you're not in a hurry, press your leaves between the pages of a large book. Use waxed paper to prevent the pages from becoming wet or discolored.

Step 3

Dry moist leaves in glycerin and water by adding 1/2 tsp. of glycerin to 1 pint of water in a vase or jar. Stir the mixture and then add your leaves. Leave at least 3 inches of stem on the leaves. Remove the leaves after one week and use in arrangements immediately.

Preserving Flowers

Step 1

Dry flowers with 4- to 6-inch stems attached by creating small bundles (about 12 flower stalks) and tying them with string. Flowers such as lavender, basil and other fragrant herbs are well suited to this method.

Step 2

Hang your flower bundles from a clothesline in a dark, warm, dry, well-ventilated place. Most flowers will dry within one week.

Step 3

Preserve loose flowers with short stems, such as calendula or gardenias, by scattering them on top of a screen you have supported on bricks or blocks of wood in a dark, warm, dry, well-ventilated place.

Step 4

Stir your drying flowers every day for one to two weeks. When they are crunchy to the touch, you can use them in potpourris and other craft projects.

Step 5

Preserve some types of flowers in sand. Examples of flowers that do well with this method include roses, tulips, marigolds and snapdragons. Gently bury your flowers in white sand that you have placed into deep cardboard boxes. Keep your box in a dark, warm, dry, well-ventilated place for up to three weeks and then carefully remove the flowers.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use substances such as antifreeze to preserve leaves and flowers because it is toxic and improper use of it might be hazardous to your health.

Things You'll Need

  • Leaves
  • Flowers
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Wax paper
  • Glycerin
  • String
  • Clothesline
  • Screen
  • Bricks or blocks of wood
  • Sand
  • Cardboard box

References

  • Green Living Ideas
  • Old Fashioned Living

Who Can Help

  • Make Stuff.com
Keywords: dry leaves flowers, preserving plants, drying foliage

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.