Fossil evidence shows that roses are 35 million years old, and they have an amazing history. Once thrown as confetti, they also served as the symbols of warring factions during the York-Lancaster War of the Roses. They’ve been used as medicine and as cosmetics, and they remain one of the most requested blooms at florists. Preserving the beautiful flowers and the memories associated with them is a simple drying or pressing process you can do without fancy equipment. These same methods work on carnations, daisies and most other flowers as well. After your flowers are pressed and dried, a quick spritz of acrylic sealer helps keep them colorful.
Pressing With Books
The easiest way to press flowers is with heavy books. You need some absorbent paper, but don’t use paper towels; the texture will transfer to the flowers, giving them an unnatural look. Instead, go with flat coffee filters without ridges, blotting paper, cardboard or plain facial tissues. Place the flowers between layers of paper and stack several heavy books or a single heavy book and a brick on top of the flower "sandwich." Leave them for a week and replace the paper. Put the weights back and leave them for another two to three weeks.
If you are pressing only the petals instead of the whole flower, you can also put the paper and petals between the pages of the book. Leave at least 1/8 inch between sets. To protect the book pages from staining, place the paper-petal sets between sheets of waxed paper.
You can also place the paper-wrapped flowers between two panes of glass before stacking the books on top.
Pressing With an Iron
Speed things up a bit with your iron. Make sure all the water is emptied from the iron, and set it on low. While you’re waiting for it to heat up, place the roses between the absorbent papers and press it as flat as possible with a heavy book. Lay the papers and flowers on the ironing board and press the iron on them for 10 to 15 seconds, pressing straight down without moving the iron from side to side. Allow the flowers to cool completely; then repeat the process.
Pressing With the Microwave
Sandwich the flowers and paper between two ceramic tiles and squeeze them together with rubber bands. You can also use a book, but be sure that it doesn’t have metal in the spine or page gilding. Microwave the flowers for 30 seconds at a time, cooling them completely in between. Leave them between the tiles or in the book to air-dry for one to two days.
Drying With Air
Air-dried roses are perfect for dried floral arrangements.
Things You'll Need
- Floral food
- Vase or bucket
- Rubber bands or string
- Shower curtain hooks
Clip the thorns and most of the leaves from the stems.
Hold the stem ends under running water and cut them at an angle before placing them in a vase with water and floral food overnight to condition the blooms. This helps to retain the color.
Tie the stems together with rubber bands or string. Slip the bundle on a shower curtain hook and hang the bundles flower-side-down for two to three weeks.
Drying With Desiccants
Use silica gel or sand and cornmeal to dry your roses.
Things You'll Need
- Airtight container
- Silica gel or equal parts white cornmeal and builders' sand
If you don’t have an air-tight container, use a shoe box and seal it completely with duct tape.
Cut the stems to about 2 inches long.
Spread a 1/2-inch layer of desiccant on the bottom of the container.
Place the flowers on top of the gel or meal mixture, making sure that they do not touch the container or other flowers.
Cover the flowers completely with the desiccant and seal the container. Leave them for two to three weeks before removing them from the container and lightly brushing away the desiccant.
Pamela Martin has been writing since 1979. She has written newsletter articles and curricula-related materials. She also writes about teaching and crafts. Martin was an American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Teaching in elementary education from Sam Houston State University and a Master of Arts in curriculum/instruction from the University of Missouri.