After months of nurturing our beautiful flower gardens, wouldn’t you like a way of preserving these beautiful flowers? Photos are wonderful, but I love the old fashioned form of pressing flowers. It is so easy and they turn out so beautifully so let me show you how to press flowers and make pressed flower art!

White and pink cosmos

The time is now to start searching your garden and preserving these wonderful pieces of paradise to remind us of our lovely gardens.  In this post, I will cover four different methods of pressing flowers, the best flowers to use, how to store the pressed flowers and provide links to instructional posts for pressed flower art diys.

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Different methods to press flowers:

There are four different ways to press flowers and they are:

1.  In heavy books;

2.  In a flower press;

3.  With an iron;

4.  In the microwave.

I will provide full instructions on how to press flowers with these methods below.

What are the best flowers to use:

I have experimented with pressing various flowers and have learned that picking the right flowers is a major key to success.  Flowers that have a single layer of petals like pansies, viola, cosmos, daisies, poppies, delphiniums, love-in-the-mist, and larkspur work the best.  

Thicker flowers or bulkier plants, don’t tend to press as well, but I have had success with thicker flowers like zinnias, lavender and stocks and they turned out very well.  With the zinnias I picked newly opened ones so that the center was not too thick.  Lavender worked incredibly well with the microwave method and for the stocks I waited until they had been blooming so that all the buds were open.

Apricotta cosmos
Apricot Lemonade Cosmos
Thai silk poppy in garden
California Poppy Thai Silk Pink Champagne
Sweet pea in garden
Sweet Pea Bix

When should you press the flowers?

Pick the flowers in the early morning when it is still cool but they are free from dew.  Choose your flowers very carefully and make sure they are free from damage and blemish.  When you bring them inside, trim their stems on an angle, cut off any extra leaves and place them in a vase full of cool water away from direct sunlight.  I usually let them soak up water for 1 to 2 hours before I start using them.  

Heavy book method

The tried and true method of using a heavy book to press flowers, just like how you probably saw your mom or grandmother use, is my favorite.  I find that while it takes longer, it is simple and you get the best results with it.  

First, find a really large book – length, width and depth – so that you can use it to press some larger flowers.  If you can’t find one that is heavy enough you can always use something to weigh it down like bricks.  Old books such as this huge dictionary that I was given or old phone books work well.

Large dictionary pressing flowers

Next, get sheets of paper that will cover the pages of the book so that the flowers do not stain the pages.  You can use paper towels or pieces of absorbent paper.  

I actually use a piece of parchment paper which I tear to fit the entire size of the book when it is open.  Then I fold it in half and insert the crease closest to the spine.

Sweet peas being pressed

Then I start placing my flowers.  For flowers like daisies or cosmos, I discovered the best way to do it is to place them face down with all the petals perfectly outward.  I find it easier to do them face down because they don’t move and the petals come out much better.  

Flowers face down before pressing

When using a thicker flower like a stock, I thoroughly inspect the flower and place the best side facing down.

Stocks getting ready to be pressed
Pink stocks prior to pressing
Pressed stock after 4 days
Stocks four days after starting to be pressed

Make sure to space the flowers and do not have them overlap because they will dry together and it may be difficult to separate them.

Once you have your flowers placed, then fold the parchment paper over top of them making sure the flowers are being pressed down in an attractive way.  Then close the book on them.  I stand on the book to make sure I get the full force of my weight to press the flowers.​

Place in a warm, but dry spot and they should be ready in 2 to 3 weeks.

Sampling of pressed flowers
Sampling of pressed flowers – from left to right – Top row: Cosmos front, Cosmos back, purple petunia, light pink zinnia, pink zinnia, California Poppy Thai Silk Pink Champagne. Bottom row: variety of sweet peas.

Wooden flower press

A wooden flower press is virtually almost identical to a book, except there aren’t any pages and you won’t need to step on it.  Click the link below to see what it looks like.

Wood Flower Press – click here for link to the product.

When using the wooden flower press, you will layer a piece of cardboard, then a few sheets of absorbent paper, then the flowers, then absorbent paper and then finally cardboard.  You can do several layers of the cardboard, paper and flowers.  Once you have them all stacked, place the top board on the carriage bolts.  Then screw firmly with washers and wing nuts.

Leave in a warm, dry spot for 2 to 3 weeks.  Carefully dismantle layer by layer.  When removing the paper, be careful not to tear the petals.

Iron method

With this method, you will need parchment paper and an iron.  

Supplies for iron pressing

Place the parchment paper on your ironing board and then place your flowers on top.  Top with another piece of parchment paper and push down on the flowers into a shape you like.  Next, with your iron on low, press the iron on top of the flower and hold for 10 seconds.  Let the paper cool, then repeat as often as needed until the flower is flat.  

Sweet peas ready for pressing
Iron pressing sweet peas

Leave in a warm, dry spot away from sunlight for 2 days until dry.  Gently peel the paper off of the flowers.

Iron pressed sweet peas

This method is definitely fast, however, the flowers did yellow quite a bit. If you are looking for an old world, vintage look then this would work perfectly. I typically like the flowers to look more like they did prior to pressing. If you compare the pressed flowers above to the flowers on the file in the section below entitled “How to store” you will see how much whiter and truer to their original color they are. It will depend on what end look your a looking for to determine what method to use.

Microwave flower press

This has been my least favorite way to press flowers, except for lavender.  For other flowers, I found it very finicky and even on low settings and for short bursts of time, the flowers were either too damp, or cooked and lost their color.  

For lavender it worked perfectly, so that is what I am going to give the direction with.

​Microwave presses come with two exterior pieces of thick plastic, multiple thick felt pads, multiple thin cotton sheets and two large elastics to secure the press together. If you are interested in learning more about a microwave flower press, here is a link to the product.

If this is the first time you are using the press, slightly dampen the felt pads.

Place plastic piece on your counter.  Then place the thick felt pad on top, followed by a cotton sheet.  Now place the flowers on top of the cotton sheet.  Cover with another cotton sheet, followed by the felt pad and then the plastic piece.  Strap the elastic pieces around the layers so that they are held tightly.

Microwave flower press with flowers
Flowers on cotton sheet of microwave press
Microwave flower press filled
Microwave press ready to go in microwave
Poor results from microwave press
Flowers after microwave pressing. Even though they were on for a very short time, some of the flowers lost their color.

Place the press in the microwave (700 W) on high for 10 seconds.  Remove the press and open it up to the section where the cotton sheets are around the flowers.  Do not open to the flowers, but let the flowers and cotton sheets cool.  Repeat but this time for 30 seconds.  Continue until the lavender is flat and dry.

Four pieces of pressed lavender

I will keep working with the microwave press but for the time being I definitely give it two thumbs up for lavender. Look how thin the lavender became! It will definitely be a treat to work with it in a variety of projects.

How to store

I like to sort my flowers into categories such as color and type.  I then place them in a labelled file folder and place them in a sturdy box.  This way they don’t accidentally get broken.  Lastly, I store  the dried flowers in the box in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and moisture. 

File folders with pressed flowers

What can you do with pressed flowers?

There are so many diy projects you can do with pressed flowers. Below is a list and I will be making my way through the list making each of them. When I have the project done I will update this post with a link to the project. Once a week, I send out an email showing all that is new on the blog so if you don’t want to miss out, please subscribe (there is a form at the bottom of this page). Here are a few ideas of what you can do with pressed flowers:

  • resin projects such as coasters, platters or trays
3 tier resin tray with gold accents and pressed flowers
  • create a pressed flower suncatcher

Suncatcher with pressed flowers hanging in a greenhouse window
  • glue them to the bottom of lace or chiffon curtains
Pink pressed stocks on curtain
  • attach them to the outside of candles
  • frame them inside sheets of glass or inside picture frames
  • apply them to thick artists paper and create a botanical print
  • glue them onto wood and then clear coat them for a beautiful photo
  • use them in a dried floral project
  • attach them to the exterior of a journal
  • use them on blank cards for a special occasion
  • glue them to a runner

They also make a great gift to loved ones because they come directly from your garden for special occasions like Mother’s day, a birthday, wedding or baby shower, etc.

Thank you!

I hope you enjoyed this post and will give pressing flowers a try – I guarantee you are going to love it and what better way to keep your beautiful garden with you for years to come!

Pressed flowers in a flatlay including sweet peas, cosmos and stocks

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