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How to Preserve Evergreens with Glycerin

Tip

Choose branches with healthy, undamaged leaves for preserving, as any damage becomes more obvious once the stems are preserved.

Use a plant dye to color the leaves once they are preserved if you prefer, as glycerin does not preserve the natural color of the foliage.

Broadleafed evergreens, such as magnolia and holly, make an attractive addition to dried flower arrangements. Typical drying methods often don't work with evergreen varieties as the stems tend to rot and the leaves become dry and brittle. Glycerin, available at craft stores and from florists, preserves the texture and appearance of most evergreens as it replaces the moisture in the plant pores with the preserving liquid. The stems and foliage remains pliable and easy to manipulate long after the evergreen branches have dried.

Cut a slit in the bottom 4 inches of the bottom of the stem using a sharp knife. The slit helps the evergreen stem absorb the glycerin solution.

Mix one part glycerin and two parts water in a pot. Heat it over medium-high heat until it is just beginning to boil, then remove it from the heat.

Pour the glycerin into a large, heavy vase or jar, filling it to a 6-inch depth. Set the container in an area away from direct light where it won't be disturbed.

Stand the evergreen branches upright in the vase. If you are preserving more than one branch, arrange them so they are not touching.

Replenish the liquid in the vase with plain water as it evaporates. Keep the bottom 4 to 6 inches of the stems submerged in liquid.

Soak the evergreens in the glycerin for two to six weeks, or until all the leaves have absorbed the mixture. The foliage changes color to black, pale green or gold depending on the plant species once it's completely dried. Properly preserved leaves are pliable.

Wipe the surface of each leaf with a dry, lint-free cloth to remove the excess glycerin that leached from the leaf pores. Add the stems to an arrangement or store in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.

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