Gardenia flowers have a distinct fragrance. The white petals quickly brown if handled and the blossom is not suitable for drying. The leaves of the gardenia can be dried, and will turn an attractive black shade. The dried gardenias foliage can be used in art and craft projects. There are various methods for drying foliage and flowers, yet not all are suitable for all plants. Gardenia foliage should be dried using the glycerin method.
Cut the foliage (stems with leaves) from a dry gardenia bush. Do not take the foliage from a plant that is damp with dew, rain or recently irrigated. The stem should be 4 to 6 inches longer than what you ultimately need, as that portion will be crushed during the drying process.
Heat 2 cups of water in a pan on the stove, until it reaches between 150 to 180 degrees. Use a cooking thermometer to test the temperature.
Remove from the stove and stir in 1 cup of glycerin. Stir until it is dissolved and the temperature is 100 degrees.
Pull back the bark from the lower (cut ends) of each stems, about 4 to 6 inches (this is the excess amount mentioned in step 1). You can use your fingernail or similar tool to accomplish this task.
Smash the exposed stem with a hammer. This is to help the stem absorb the mixture in the following steps.
Pour about 4 to 6 inches of the mixture into the milk carton, or a similar container.
Submerge the cut, smashed and exposed ends of the foliage in the mixture you added to the container. The section with the bark pulled back and smashed should be completely submerged.
Soak the stems in the mixture for 2 to 6 weeks, maintaining the liquid level by adding water when needed.