Throughout history people have found a way to preserve their favourite flowers. They draw or paint them, photograph them, dry and hang them, or press them between the pages of a book. The art of pressing flowers is one that has been passed from generation to generation. This simple art of flower pressing speaks to two basic truths: flowers are beautiful and memories are priceless.
What You'll Need to Press Flowers
Something that absorbs moisture. Blotting paper is ideal, but paper towels work too.
Weight to press the flowers flat. You don't need a sophisticated press, an old phone book or dictionary work just fine for a crude press. The pages of those old books are naturally absorbent, but using a paper towel between the flower and the page is still a good idea.
A dark and dry storage location. The key to keeping pressed petals is storing them away from moisture and light.
For the best results pressing petals, pick just after the bud has opened, when the flower's colour is the brightest. Late morning or early afternoon is the ideal time of day to pick flowers for pressing. You want to wait to start picking after the the dew has evaporated, but not too late in the afternoon when the sun has made the petals start to wilt and not look as fresh. The faster you can get the flowers you harvest into a press, the better. If you have a press that is easily portable, it works well to put them directly into the press as you collect the flowers. Also be sure to pick more flowers than you need so that you have a variety to choose from for your pressed petal project.
How to Press Flowers
The goal of pressing flowers is to get them as flat as possible. In your flower press or book, alternate layers of blotting paper and a single layer of flowers and repeat until the press or book is full. Next close the press and tighten the wing nuts, then store in a dry place out of direct sunlight. Each day tighten the wing nuts a little more, or if using a book, add more books or weights to press the pages tighter. Continue this tightening process until you can no longer do so.
Most flowers take 7 to 10 days to complete the pressing process, but thick flowers or petals that have a lot of moisture at the beginning can take as long as 6 weeks to press fully. Individual petals also press much faster than the entire flower.
The flower or petal is ready to remove from the press if it is stiff and does not wilt when you lift it from the press.
Which Flowers to Press
Choosing which flowers to press is completely up to you. The best way to learn about flower pressing is to experiment. Some easy flowers to start with if you are a beginner are: pansies, cosmos, geraniums, daisies, or hydrangea florets. These are all small and simple flowers that will flatten easily. Tulip and daffodils are a bit more intricate, but are easy to press if you first break down the flower components and press each component of the flower separately.
Besides as a way to preserve memories of special events or from places you've visited, pressed petals are also a great way to extend the life of flowers indefinitely. Wanting to find a use for all the colourful petals we clip off at the end of season to help the tulips and daffodil plants put all their energy into the bulb is what lead us to flower pressing. We hope you can use these tips to press your favourite flowers also, then turn them into art, create cards or ornaments - there are so many possible pressing projects, have fun experimenting!
To learn more about flower pressing, join us in the flower field this spring for the Flower Pressing Workshop. You'll receive step by step instruction about how to press tulip petals and a flower press that you get to take home.