Six Ways to Preserve Roses and Other Types of Flowers

Updated on November 28, 2017
Elyn MacInnis profile image

Elyn spent the last 30 years in China, coming home in the summer to cook American food and have fun doing craft projects with her family.

Photo: Seth Reese
Photo: Seth Reese | Source

How to preserve roses is an important question, because a rose isn't always just a rose–it is often connected to memories you don't want to forget.

Did you receive a rose or bouquet of roses for your birthday? Perhaps you've had the happy occasion of getting married and want to preserve your wedding bouquet; or, maybe, you simply have lots of roses in your garden, and would like to prevent them from drying up and withering away when the winter season comes. In this article, I will outline a number of ways to preserve your flowers so they can last forever.

The process of preserving roses depends a lot upon the state of the bloom: Have the petals fallen off? Has the rose turned brown? Are the flower and stem looking a bit limp?

The preservation method will depend on whether your rose is fresh or dying. Make sure to read carefully and select the right one.

1. Glycerin

By using glycerin, your flower will not dry out, keeping its graceful and lively form. This is because glycerin replaces water in the plant, resulting in a plant that never dries. The stem, leaves, and blooms will keep their texture and won't get wrinkled. The feel of the flower after using glycerin will be rubbery and flexible.

The drawback of using glycerin is that, while it keeps the supple texture of the leaves and flowers intact, the color will fade with time. That is why people who use glycerin to preserve their flowers often add food coloring or other dyes.

Another drawback is that glycerin is expensive and takes anywhere from two to six weeks to set.

2. Freeze Drying

Freeze drying flowers is complicated and can be expensive, but the result is lovely.

To freeze dry flowers, you will need to would look online for a freeze drying service or consult your local florist, who may work with a freeze drying company or be able to refer you to one. Freeze drying takes the moisture out of the petals. The result is lovely, bright, and timeless flowers. Another bonus is that freeze dried flowers keep their scent.

Freeze dried rose bouquet.
Freeze dried rose bouquet.

3. Air Drying

Air drying flowers is perhaps the easiest and most common way to preserve flowers.

  1. Take the leaves off of the stem of the flower. (This allows the flower to dry faster).
  2. Tie the flowers into small bundles of three or four using a rubber band.
  3. Hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area. Keep them out of the sunlight and keep the heads separated if the flower has thick, moist petals.

Air drying can take a week to several months depending on the flower you are drying. Air dried flowers will be brittle, so you will have to handle carefully when taking them down.

Air drying roses.
Air drying roses.

4. Pressing

You may have seen pressed flowers or plants before. When I was a child, we had pressed ferns displayed in a shadowbox hanging on the wall that fascinated me deeply. They looked so ancient and elegant.

Of course, when you press flowers, they become flat. This is a good method for less "meaty" flowers or ones that are already mostly flat, like pansies.

The old way of pressing flowers employed newspapers or an old telephone book as supplies. If you want to do this the old fashioned way:

  1. Put the flowers on a piece of paper or inside a telephone book, making sure they do not overlap.
  2. Put another piece of paper on top of flowers, or, if using a telephone book, close it.
  3. Put a board or heavy piece of cardboard on top.
  4. On top of the piece of cardboard or board, place something very heavy, like a pile of coffee-table books, a weight, or a big rock.
  5. Let the weight put pressure on the flower for two to four weeks, depending on the moisture in the flower.
  6. After a few weeks, remove the weight, board, and paper. Your flowers will be pressed and ready for display.

But I think using a microwave to dry flowers an press flowers is a great idea. Watch the video below to see how it is done.

Microfleur 9" (23 cm) Microwave Max Flower Press
Microfleur 9" (23 cm) Microwave Max Flower Press

You can use this microwave flower press to press your flowers very quickly. I think you will be very surprised at the results. I was!


5. Sand

Any method that pulls the moisture out of a flower, causing it to dry, is a good way to preserve flowers. Sand does just that. Not to mention, its easily obtainable and a good excuse to go to the beach.

The video below provides a tutorial on how to use sand to dry flowers.

6. Silica Gel

Silica gel isn't the cheapest method, but it can be used multiple times. This method works much like sand, in that its granules serve to extract all the moisture from plants and flowers.

Some brands of silica gel contain blue crystals that change color to indicate how much moisture has been absorbed. These blue crystals turn pink as they absorb moisture from the flowers, so you will know when the gel's drying abilities have been expended. In order to use the gel again, you must bake it, removing all the moisture.

If you decide preserve your flower using silica gel, you will have to put it in a container that is air tight.

The video below provides a tutorial on how to use silica gel to preserve flowers.

© 2013 Elyn MacInnis


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  • Deborah Minter profile image

    Deborah Minter 6 months ago from U.S, California

    Beautiful and helpful article!