DIY Pressed Flowers – Save a Little Piece of Summer!

Right now your garden is looking its best and what better way to preserve your flowers, herbs and leaves than pressing them in a book or a wooden flower press.  This is a wonderful way to preserve memories of special occasions and is a relaxing hobby that is not expensive. 

The oldest preserved flowers were found in a Roman tomb in Egypt.  They were 2000 years old!

In the 1500s Japan and China began to create beautifully framed pictures of pressed flowers.

Victorian people (1700s) adored flowers and used them, not only for special occasions, but as part of their everyday life.   They took up the hobby of pressing flowers when economic trade began between Japan and England.   Both men and women kept botanical scrapbooks.  Botanists created herbarium sheets which were a collection of pressed plants for educational purposes and research.  Herbarium sheets are still used today in horticultural colleges and are created by the students as a spring and summer project. 

In the 1800s the art of flower pressing came to the United States where it was a popular past time in the winter to create beautiful works of art.  Many people today remember finding pressed flowers in old books and the family bible. 

During the current pandemic crafts and creating art of all types have once more become popular. Pressing flowers is a relaxing, creative process and can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike.

  Photo: Pixabay

The best time of day to collect flowers, herbs and leaves is the early morning after the dew is off the plants and early evening.  Keep a container and small pruners /scissors accessible in the garden shed.  Flowers that press well are a

Apple/Crabapple blossoms, Larkspur, Queen Anne’s Lace, California Poppy, Nicotiana, Pansies/Violas, Clover and Sweet Peas. Perennials such as Heuchera also press well and keep their beautiful leaf colors.

Press your daily collections right away!  It does not take flowers long to wilt once removed from the main plant. 

No matter what method of pressing you use, the flowers first must be sandwiched between two pieces of parchment paper, non-waxed white tissue paper or blotting paper.  Do not use textured white paper or paper towels.  The paper draws any moisture out of the flowers. If the flowers are particularly thick it is probably best to double up on the ‘sandwich’ paper or take them apart, petal by petal.  You can also cut the flower and it’s stem in half and place both cut side down on the blotting paper.  Obviously this will take more time but the creative options using single petals are endless.

I would highly recommend writing the name(s) of the flowers on the top of each sandwich page and the date they were pressed.  Make your sandwich paper a little bigger than the book so the flower names and dates will be peeking out the top of your pressing book.  This way you will not have to disturb the flowers to check on them until the drying time is up.

Position each bloom face down on the paper – not touching- before placing your sandwich between the pages of a large thick book.  Do not use books you highly value; they may become wrinkled and marked.  Weigh the book down with additional books, bricks or anything else that weighs a lot and offers even weight distribution. 

If you are using a flower press, place your flower sandwich between two pieces of pre-cut cardboard before inserting the whole unit into the press.  Believe it or not, the book method takes less time to dry and press flowers than a flower press.  I have tried and had success with both methods.  I still like the old-fashioned book method the best. 

 Do not disturb your pressed flowers for at least a month.  If you check and the flowers still stick to the white paper, leave them to dry longer.  It is an exercise in patience!

Remove the delicate dried flowers with tweezers. 

Another popular way to press flowers is the ironing method

1-2 days before you iron, place your flowers - not touching - between two pieces of parchment paper.  Place all inside your pressing book to begin the pressing process.

Empty all the water out of the iron.  Set the dial to the lowest, driest heat setting.  High heat can turn the flowers brown.

Remove the flowers and parchment paper from the pressing book and transfer to the ironing board. 

Press straight down with your iron on each section of the parchment paper for 10 seconds.  Longer than that will brown the flowers. Do not glide the iron across the paper.  Let each section cool down and repeat a few times if necessary.  Gently lift the top paper to check on the flowers.  If they are dry, you are done.  The whole process should take about 5 minutes or less.  Again, remove the pressed flowers with tweezers.   

Pressed flowers are especially fun to use on cards, in scrapbooks, mixed media journals, gardening journals and craft time with the kids.  You can create large or small framed artwork as well.  There really is no ‘right’ way to layer and arrange your flowers.  Do arrange the flowers with tweezers first on your archival acid-free paper.  Once you are happy with your design, take a picture to use as a guide and lightly glue or use tiny pieces of double-sided tape to affix your flowers onto another piece of the same type of paper.    You can also buy archival acid-free adhesives online or at the craft store.  Gently place your artwork behind glass in a beautiful frame and viola!  A personal garden masterpiece forever!


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