Preserving Cut Flowers
I was wondering if you could tell me the best way to save or preserve flowers. They are from a very special occasion, and I would like to keep them. How would I 'dry' them so they will stay around for a while?
If you want to dry them, then spray them with hairspray and hang them in a dry dark area. The hairspray keeps the dust away and keeps some of the color in the flowers. Another way is to press them and then arrange in a photo frame so everyone can admire your beautiful flowers.
I would bring them to a specialized florist & have them freeze dried. The flowers will last for at least 10 years this way. This is what I had done for my daughter's wedding bouquet. But, this is kind of pricey.
You could dry them yourself using silica gel but this is tricky. If you dry the flowers too long, they'll shatter- too little & they'll go limp. Once they're limp, you can't put them back in the silica gel because they won't hold their shape. You can buy silica gel at a craft store like Michael's. For the freeze drying, look in the yellow pages.
Lee Valley, A Canadian company, based, I think, here in Vancouver, BC sells a microwave flower drying kit. It is so easy! It consists of two terra cotta plates with a series of absorbent pads. You place your flowers on the pads and cover them with more pads and the other terra cotta plate. Then you put the whole thing in the microwave for a few seconds, and you have perfectly preserved, pressed flowers. Lee Valley has a web site: www.leevalley.com. Happy memory preservation!
I too wanted to save an orchid once. I went to a craft store (Michael's) and bought a canister of a flower drying desiccant. It not only worked quickly, but the orchid was preserved beautifully. I've since tried other flowers and fern leaves with good results. And the best part? It's reusable!
Preserving fresh flowers can be tricky. There are three main ways to keep special flowers preserved. The results depend on the type of flowers, the condition of the flowers, (as to how open the buds are), and the method chosen to preserve them. The first preservation method is to hang them upside down in a cool, dark place to dry. This usually results in the flower drying into a smaller size, the color can change, and the petals may drop if the fresh flowers were hung upside down after they were beyond the "bud" stage. This method is an old standby for flower preservation and is the least expensive.
The second method is to use silicone crystals. Silicone crystals can be purchased at many larger retail outlets that sell craft items. This method requires the flowers to be placed in an airtight container surrounded by the silicone crystals. The flowers do take a long time to dry this way, although they usually retain their shape and color quite well. The container will give specific instructions for preserving your flowers. This method can be costly for the crystals, but you can reuse the crystals over and over by drying the crystals in your oven after each use. Follow the instructions.
The third and the best way to preserve fresh flowers is to have them "freeze dried". This is a method that gives great results. The color, size, and shape remain almost identical to the original condition of the flowers. This is an expensive way to preserve flowers, but it gives the best results. Contact a company that freeze dries flowers by looking in bridal magazines for companies that specialize in this method. A special machine is used to dry and preserve the flowers. The sooner you ship the flowers to the company the better, so they retain their shape and color before the freeze drying process.
There is an alternative method which I have recommended to customers. Take at least three pictures of your floral arrangement, from different angles. Also, measure the height, width and length. Take your pictures to your favorite florist and have a silk (permanent) arrangement made to look like your special floral arrangement. Most reputable florists have silk flowers that look so much like fresh flowers many people cannot tell the difference until they actually touch and smell the flowers. There are even flower scents available to make silk flowers smell like fresh flowers.
Chose a method that will satisfy you. Flowers are a special part of our lives. Preserving them can add much pleasure to our day to day living.
Here's what we did with my wife's wedding bouquet: We got a cardboard box big enough to hold the bouquet with room to spare. Buy cat litter, not the flushable type, but the cheap stuff that you need to scoop. Fill the box with the litter. Wait 2 weeks. Then put the box inside a large garbage bag; cut the box open along the sides. And presto, perfectly preserved flowers.
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