How can I preserve cut roses? I’ve heard you can freeze them.
There are 3 main ways of preserving flowers at home:
- Hang or air-dry
- Use a desiccant (silica gel, borax or sand)
Hanging/air-drying is good for seed pods and grasses, but flowers may look quite dry and loose their original colour.
Pressing flowers yields 2-dimensional (flat) results, which would be nice for bookmarks and the like. Dark coloured flowers tend to become darker when pressed, while lighter coloured flowers are more likely to retain their colour.
Most experts seem to prefer the results seen with drying flowers using silica gel, which looks like fine sand and absorbs moisture. The flowers retain their 3-dimensional shape as well as most of their original colour.
I located no information about freezing flowers, other than freeze-drying, which is generally done by professionals and involves specialized equipment (a temperature of -25 degrees F is needed for best results). Again, drying is the key to preserving the flowers and a home freezer would not remove all the moisture from the petals.
Here is an overview of how to dry flowers using silica gel, which is available from craft stores. You will need up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of silica gel for a large flower bouquet.
- Use a cardboard or plastic box.
- Pour a layer of silica gel in bottom.
- Flowers should be dry, with stems cut short.
- Insert flowers into silica gel (the flowers should lie flat facing upwards. Don’t crowd them).
- Slowly pour silica gel over each flower, shaking the box so the gel gets between all of the petals (one expert said, so it gets “into every nook and cranny”).
- Completely bury the flowers in silica gel.
- Place the container somewhere to dry at room temperature (no need to cover, but you can if you wish). It may take several weeks if the flowers contain lots of petals (e.g., like roses).
- Once dry (the flowers should be crispy to the touch), remove the flowers gently from the box and shake off the silica gel. It may take several days to over a week to gently shake all the silica out.
- If you wish, you can make artificial stems using florist wire.
Note that you can reuse silica gel – just make sure it dries out between uses.
There are a number of helpful videos online, which provide step-by-step instructions on how to preserve flowers. In particular, the following are very well done:
- University of Illinois Extension. Use silica gel to dry flowers. September 7 2010
- University of Illinois Extension. Simply hanging plants out to dry. September 7 2010
- University of Illinois Extension. Pressing plants – a simple way to dry flowers. September 7 2010