Flower drying and preservation techniques


This time of year we get a lot of inquiries at our flower shop about preserving flowers. Prom corsages, wedding flowers or even leaves and flowers from the garden.

Our flower shop,  Helen Blakey Flowers, does not offer any flower preserving services, however we can point you in a few different directions to explore.

If you would like to preserve flowers from a wedding you must plan for this well in advance of the day. If you want to try the do it yourself approach, a few practice runs will avoid future disappointment. Also, why not take a picture or two of the flowers while they are still fresh?

To preserve flowers yourself, Try one of these 3 methods. Not all flowers work in all methods so again experimenting ahead will be necessary.

1)      You can simply air dry the flowers. This is the least effective, but by far the easiest, approach. Hang the flowers facing down in a dry, dark area and allow them to dry out on their own. They will shrivel and change colour. Some will not dry well, like alstromeria, others may dry but the colour will change a lot, red roses go blacker, white roses turn brownish.

2)      You can press the individual blooms and frame them in the shape of your bouquetframed for display or create any number of decorative items, cards etc. You can always try the old approach of pressing the flowers under a heavy book, leaving it for several days. Much better results can be achieved with  Microwave flower presses that can be used in the microwave to instantly dry and press flowers. They are easy to use and work well on most types of flowers, retaining their colours quite well. I’ve bought them online at Lee Valley or you can visit their stores at 1275 Morningside or 590 King St W. You can find  many project ideas online and there are books about how to make wonderful keepsakes this way.

3)     To keep the colour and quality but retain the flowers dimensions you can dry whole blooms in silica gel. This technique is a lot more work and is much trickier but well worth the effort. Silica is a powdery substance that draws the moisture from the flowers. The results are quite good on most types of flowers. You must remove the stem and bury each bloom completely in the sand. It can then be left for days/weeks to dry, or the process can be sped up with the microwave, however I’ve found this to be VERY tricky to not overcook the flowers. The sand can be dried out and reused repeatedly. It can be purchased at any craft store like Michael’s and also Lee Valley sells it.

 The internet is full of projects and simple ideas for putting together a lovely keepsake, especially of your wedding day. Plan ahead and have fun. 

 For professional preservation services you must arrange well in advance to have the flower bouquet shipped immediately after the wedding ceremony. The costs are very high, a 16” X 20” framed dried bouquet starts at $1,000. $500 for corsage size flowers with an invitation or similar design.

floralpreservations.com is a local company that offers these services. Even if you don’t want to use their services, check out their website. It shows you what framed finished products can look like and is great inspiration for your own projects.