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How to Preserve Flowers with Glycerine

flower and vase image by Tom Hirtreiter from

Preserving fresh flowers from the garden allows you to display the stems year-round. Glycerin is a clear and odorless liquid that is used to make cosmetics and preserve food but can also preserve flowers as it pulls moisture out of the stem and blossom. Glycerin works well on long plant and flower stems as the process holds the standing shape of the stem and keeps the foliage pliable in some plants. Play around with the drying process by using flower blossoms during different stages of opening and a variety of flower species to create attractive dried displays.

Cut flowers and stems to a length of 18 inches or shorter with a pruning clipper or scissors. Choose flowers and foliage that have appealing colors and shapes, and no damage or spots. Collect stems during the cool morning or evening to reduce water loss in the stem.

Remove all leaves from the lower 6 inches of the stem and crush that area with a hammer. Stems that are woody should have the bark pulled back before crushing. Crushing the stem will increase the rate of absorption and quicken the preservation process.

Pour two parts water into a container and heat it until just before boiling. Pour one part glycerin into the water and gently mix. Fill a glass container with the 6 inches of solution and mark the top of the fill line so you can monitor the amount of liquid being absorbed.

Stick the crushed stem ends into the warm glycerin solution. Monitor the level of solution and refill to the fill line as it disappears. The stems will preserve in 2 to 6 weeks depending on the stem thickness. The process is complete once the foliage becomes brown.


Glycerin is a liquid used in soap-making; it is available at crafts stores in the soap-making area. Change the flower color by adding food coloring to the glycerin water. Do not place cut stems in water during the collection process as this will increase the drying time.

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