One of the most beautiful Mother’s Day gifts I’ve ever received from my husband was this handmade flower press. Made of live edge, air-dried walnut and finished with a French polish and wax, it literally took my breath away! Until then, I had used whatever heavy books I could find around the house to press botanicals. More often than not, I forgot about them only to stumble upon the pressed garden gifts years later (which is always a pleasant surprise!) As a little girl, I remember pressing flowers into my family’s Encyclopedia Britannica set.
While I understand that the process of pressing flowers can be expedited in a microwave or oven, I prefer the more traditional method of pressure and time. A few times a week during the spring and summer months, I find myself harvesting specifically to press and preserve, most of the time without a specific purpose in mind. Pressed flowers take up nearly no space, are no-waste, will keep for decades, and are quite literally a method of preserving a botanical moment in time. I wanted to share some of my favorite, tried-and-true botanical pressing tips with you in case you are inspired to try pressing this year.
- Before harvesting, be sure you have allotted yourself enough time to press as well. Some blooms will begin to wilt or brown shortly after harvesting so you want to press same-day, preferably same hour.
- Avoid picking flowers when they are wet with dew, rain, or right after watering. Late morning is ideal.
- Search for blooms that are unblemished (have not started to brown or shrivel on the edges and are free of tears or bug nibbles.)
- Harvest at different times in the blooming process to get variances among each type of bloom.
- My go-to garden and botanical harvesting tools are from Barebones Living.
You Will Need
- Fresh flowers, herbs and foliage
- Snips to trim botanicals before pressing
- Flower press. If you do not have a flower press, any heavy book will do. Alternatively, you can make a quick flower press with two flat pieces of wood and a large Velcro strap, stretchy fabric, clamps, or any mechanisms that will tightly secure your layers of pages and botanicals between two boards. If you would like to purchase one, I highly recommend the Hygge & Sage Wooden Flower Press Artistry Kit.
- Couch paper to place in between each layer of flowers. They are reusable and absorb moisture as the flower dries.
- Blotting paper to place in between the couch paper and both sides of the flowers to absorb access moisture. This ultra-thin tissue-like paper also makes it easier to remove the flowers without damaging petals or structure.
- Source your botanicals. Dab flowers and stems dry before pressing to remove any extra moisture. Snip off any leaves or petals you don’t want to include in the press.
- Prep your press by stacking a bottom board (corrugated cardboard works great here), followed by a piece of couch paper and then a piece of blotting paper.
- Now it's time to place your botanicals. Place blooms face down as you stack, adjusting the petals and leaves as needed. It will help the petals to press into place in a more natural way.
- Cover your botanicals with another piece of blotting paper, then another piece of couch paper.
- Repeat this stack for as many botanicals as you have to press.
- Carefully place your press top on and secure it.
- Pressing flowers takes time. I usually check in on my press every two weeks and decide what can come out and what should stay another week.
- Curve your stems and leaves into interesting positions.
- When pressing composite flower heads, such as dahlias, the key is careful placement and even pressure applied to the head to get beautiful results.
- Extremely dense centered flowers, such as roses, will need dismantling. This is the process of deconstructing the flower and pressing the petals separately with the intention of reassembling the pressed petals again afterward to reconstruct the rose.
Botanicals That Press Well
- French marigold
- Geranium blossoms
- Lemon balm
- Queen Anne’s lace
- Rose (dismantled)
- Rose of Sharon
- Sweet pea