How to Preserve Live Flowers for Keepsakes
Whether it's a special rose from someone you love, a wedding bouquet from your special day or just a handful of blooms you like, there are plenty of reasons to preserve live flowers for keepsakes. There are also plenty of methods when it comes to preserving flowers, all of which involve removing the moisture. Whatever method you choose, it's important to remember that you need to save them when they're in full bloom, not after they have started to droop and lose petals.
Preserving Flowers With Epoxy
It's not the easiest way to preserve flowers, but preserving flowers with epoxy resin can leave them looking as vivid as they were the day they were picked, and the final result can stay in perfect shape for decades. While epoxy is simple enough with which to work, it is difficult to perfect, so you'll want to do a few test runs with small molds and individual flowers before trying to move on to something more complex.
Before using epoxy, you'll need to first make a plan as to the mold shape you want to use and how you want the flowers to be arranged. Keep in mind that you can't rearrange the flowers or the shape of the resin once they're set, so be sure you're satisfied with the mold and arrangement before you start working.
Once you have your mind made up, mix your resin mixture according to the manufacturer's instructions and then fill the mold halfway full. Arrange your flowers in the mold quickly without moving them around too much and then fill the mold the rest of the way with resin. The resin should dry within 24 hours or so (the instructions should provide a specific time) and then you can remove the mold and enjoy your handiwork.
Air Dry Your Flowers
The easiest and most common way to dry flowers is to simply tie them up and then suspend them upside down for a few weeks (or months if necessary) until they are completely dried. When using this method, for best results, take the leaves off the stems, don't use bundles of more than three or four and be sure to keep them in a well-ventilated area out of the sunlight. While this method is easy, it can take a long time, and the flowers will lose a lot of their color and become very brittle, causing them to break easily.
Store dried flowers away from sunlight and excess moisture, or they may fall apart or lose their color. Never store them in plastic, which can retain moisture.
Oven Dry Your Flowers
If you like the look of dried flowers, you can also dry them in the oven, which will speed up the process. To start drying flowers in the oven, preheat the oven to its lowest-possible setting and then arrange your flowers on a baking sheet in a single layer with the stems removed. Keep each flower's petals from touching one another. Put the baking sheet in the oven and leave the door slightly ajar to keep the heat down and allow for increased air circulation.
Check the flowers regularly. They are done when the petals feel brittle and the stems break easily with a snap. The time may vary from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the type of flower. Once dried, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let them cool for several hours.
Like air-dried flowers, these should be stored away from sunlight or excess moisture.
Take Them to a Professional
Sure, it's easy enough to set flowers in epoxy or dry them, but these methods come with risks, and some flowers can't be preserved with certain methods. When you have a bouquet you really care about, you might want to take the flowers to someone who specializes in freeze-drying preservation to ensure every last bloom is saved in perfect condition.
These professionals still remove the moisture from the flowers, but they do so with specialized tools and techniques that keep the flowers from becoming brittle or pale like they do with most other preservation methods. The flowers are also saved in airtight containers, protecting the bouquet from environmental dangers that may cause it to degrade over time.
While this technique can guarantee that your flowers look as close to their original condition as possible (they even retain their smell if you remove them from the airtight container), it is also very expensive.