Arts & Crafts | Floral

How to Press Flowers: Four Methods for Beginners

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If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you know I’m a flower pressing fanatic! My original post on how to make pressed flower art is a reader favorite, so I decided to test other methods. I’ve learned a ton, and now I’m giving you the skinny on how to press flowers four different ways.

Guide to pressing flowers with four different methods and examples

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. For more information, please see my disclosures.

I have fond memories of pressing flowers with my own mother as a child. It’s a tradition that strikes a sentimental chord with me. Do you feel that way too?

Dried esperanza and crepe myrtle stems
Pressed flowers after using microwave method

Since we’re limited on travel these days, I’ve selected flowers from our garden for this guide. You can experiment with any flowers or leaves you have on hand. (Why not use this as an excuse to buy a pretty bouquet?)

Table of Contents


How to pick the best flowers for pressing

If you want to make a masterpiece, you need to start off with the right supplies. Picking the right flowers at the right time is very important for flower pressing.

Fresh esperanza branch
Esperanza stem before pressing

Tips for selecting, picking and preparing your flowers

  • Always choose flowers that are close to full bloom and avoid ones with blemishes or dark spots.
  • Pick flowers from a garden in the morning once any dew is gone.
  • Make sure flowers are completely dry, as wet or damp flowers can become moldy.
  • If using a bouquet, keep it in water until ready to press. (Tip: Always cut stems at an angle and place flowers in a vase with flower food to maintain freshness. Replace water daily and remove any leaves below the water line.)
  • For large flowers with layered petals, consider separating the petals before pressing and then “reconstructing” the flower later, if desired.

If you’re interested in preserving the 3-D shape of flowers, check out my post on how to dry flowers.

Best types of flowers to press flat

Over the years, I’ve learned some flowers were born to be pressed, and some weren’t. I might have scorched a flower or two in my ambitious attempts to press them. Whoops!

The best flowers for pressing include ones with a single layer of petals and flat faces. I’ve used everything from flowering shrubs like plumbago to roses, vincas, pansies, Esperanza, zinnias, and delphinium.

Fresh flowers including Esperanza, plumbago, roses, vincas and crepe myrtle blooms

For larger bulbs or spherical flowers like peonies or ranunculus, you may have better luck preserving the whole flower. You can do this through various drying methods or by separating the individual petals from the stems. For thicker flowers (like roses), you can also split the flower in half before pressing.

Note: Avoid using flowers with fleshy, water-rich petals (e.g., begonias, portulaca). They may be prone to mold or scorch when pressed.


How to press flowers in a book

Pressing flowers in a book is one of the oldest, tried-and-true methods. I’m quite fond of the technique if you have the time and patience to wait. (If you don’t, I’ve got a solution for you below.)

Pressing flowers in a book showing dried rose on top

Supplies:

  • Sturdy book (e.g., phone book)
  • Paper to absorb moisture (parchment, thin cardboard, newspaper, coffee filters or blotting paper)
  • Heavy weight

Note: For best results, avoid using paper towels. Any paper with texture or embossing may leave an imprint on the flowers.

Step 1: Prepare flowers

Before you begin, separate any petals if needed. Then, arrange your flowers on one sheet of paper with at least 3/4-inch of space in between. Try to press flowers of similar varieties or thickness together.

Arranging flowers on parchment paper in a book

Step 2: Cover flowers and close the book

Place the second piece of parchment paper on top of the arranged flowers. Take care to flatten the flower face in the shape you’d like to achieve when pressed. I find it easiest to fold my sheet of parchment paper in half. Then, I can sandwich my flowers inside like a book rather than cutting two sheets of paper.

Next, close the book and set a weight on top. You can also pile on more heavy books or a brick, but you’ll want something heavy enough to create even pressure.

Step 3: Wait 2-4 weeks for flowers to dry

Flowers pressed flat in a book after 2.5 weeks
Pressed flowers in a book after 2.5 weeks

The drying time will depend on the thickness of the petals. I waited only 2.5 weeks for my flowers to dry in the photo above. They came out paper-thin and had great color retention! For thicker flowers, you may choose to wait closer to four weeks.

Some people suggest replacing the absorbent paper every three days or so. However, I didn’t find that necessary with parchment paper.

Once you’re done, I recommend using these nylon tweezers to handle your dried flowers. Book-pressed flowers can have very delicate structures, and you don’t want to tear your pretty specimen!


Using a homemade wooden press

Much like the book-press method, a homemade or store-bought wooden press can give you fabulous results. (Plus, you can decorate a wooden press or customize it to match your style-BONUS!)

Supplies:

Step 1: Drill holes in boards

Drill a hole in each corner of the boards, about 1 inch from the edge. Make sure you match the size of your bolts and line up the holes on both boards.

Step 2: Arrange flowers in between cardboard and paper

Cut the cardboard to fit inside the plywood or MDF, working around the four holes where you will insert the bolts. Lay a piece of blotting paper on top of the cardboard, and arrange the flowers on top as desired.

Again, you will place the flower between two pieces of blotting paper. Then place a piece of cardboard on either side, followed by the wood or MDF.

Step 3: Screw in the bolts, and wait 2-4 weeks for flowers to dry

Insert the bolts, and tighten the wingnuts until secure. Drying times will again depend on the thickness of the flowers used.

Compared to book pressing, the pressure is more evenly distributed with a wooden press. Plus, you don’t risk damaging any books.


Pressing flowers with a microwave

Perhaps my favorite method of pressing flowers for framing is using a microwave. When you’re short on time, this is the ideal option for you!

I wrote extensively about how to use one of these in my post on DIY pressed flower art. Go visit that post to receive a special 10% off promotion to purchase a Microfleur flower press.

Preparing flowers in a microwave flower press
Arranging flowers in Microfleur flower press

Supplies:

Step 1: Place flowers on inner lining

You’ll want to arrange your flowers on the fabric liner in the shape you want to achieve in the end. Always try to group similar flowers together.

Step 2: Microwave flowers for an initial burst

With most microwave presses, you’ll want to heat the flowers for one long initial “burst.” I typically start with 25 seconds.

Pressed flowers after microwaving with the Microfleur Max flower press
Plumbago flowers after pressing in microwave

Step 3: Continue microwaving in short bursts

Continue to microwave your specimen in 10-second bursts until the flowers feel paper-thin. Always air out the plates in between bursts to prevent browning or scorching. If scorching occurs, you can always reorder refill packs. (Ask me how I know.)

Note: Using succulents or flowers with fleshy petals may cause scorching when microwaving.

Take care when you remove flowers, since petals may stick to the inner liner. It helps to stretch the fabric liner in opposite directions or use nylon tweezers to help release the flower.

You can also use a book in the microwave instead of a press. Just please make sure there are no metal accents on the cover that might create a fireworks show!


Pressing flowers with an iron

You can also apply heat to dry flowers using a household iron. I must admit, this is my least preferred method because I just don’t think the quality compares to the other methods. However, it’s a good one to have if you need pressed flowers ASAP and don’t have another microwave option.

Ironing flowers with parchment paper

Supplies:

  • Iron
  • Parchment paper or other absorbent paper

Step 1: Arrange flowers between paper

I used parchment paper to sandwich the flowers and position them into place before ironing. A good hard surface with a thin towel underneath also helps.

Tip: For a fun kids craft, you can use wax paper to create a “suncatcher” with the flowers preserved in between. The wax paper will seal itself around the flowers, and you can staple thick cardstock as a frame for display.

Step 2: Iron on low heat

Turn off any steam settings, and iron the flowers for about 15-30 seconds at a time on low heat. Let the flowers cool briefly before attempting to press again.

Once the petals have partially dried out, you can choose to finish drying using the book or wooden press method above.

Drying flowers with an iron
Results of pressing flowers with an iron

As you can see, the results of ironing don’t measure up to the other methods, in my opinion. The parchment paper tends to wrinkle, which causes ripples in the petals of the flowers as well.

Plumeria bloom before and after ironing
Plumeria blossom before and after pressing with iron

What is the best way to press flowers?

I decided to create a little chart for an easy comparison across the methods (nerd alert!).

Four ways to press flowers with pros and cons

The best technique to press flowers and keep the color and texture was the book method. The microwave flower press is a close second and definitely wins in terms of convenience. I would not suggest ironing unless you’re in a pinch or need some quick flowers for a kid’s craft.

If you want another method for preserving flowers, try drying flowers with silica gel. It’s the best way to maintain the texture of your blossoms.

Pin it for later!

Comparison of four methods of pressing flowers

What to make with dried flowers

Now that you know how to make pressed flowers, you can preserve flowers from any occasion! Consider preserving flowers from your wedding, vacation, or other life events. I’ve even had readers preserve flowers from a funeral to remember loved ones.

I have a tutorial on making wedding table numbers with pressed flowers if you need inspiration. Talk about gorgeous!

In upcoming posts, I’ll share some fun ideas for using dried flowers in everything from jewelry to shadow boxes. Stay tuned for more, my friends!

First Day of Home signature
Fresh flowers, including plumbago, roses, vincas and crepe myrtle blossoms, before pressing in microwave with the Microfleur flower press

How to Press Flowers Four Ways

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner/Easy
Estimated Cost: $10

Learn how to press flowers with four different methods. Find out which flower pressing technique works best for your craft project!

Materials

Book Press Method

  • Fresh flowers
  • Heavy Book
  • Parchment paper or absorbent paper

DIY Wooden Press Method

  • 12x12-inch pieces of plywood or MDF (or store-bought wooden flower press)
  • Cardboard (2 pieces)
  • Parchment paper or blotting paper
  • 4 bolts and wingnuts (if making DIY press)

Microwave Flower Press Method

  • Microfleur Flower Press
  • Tweezers (optional)

Ironing Method

  • Standard iron
  • Parchment paper or absorbent paper

Instructions

Book Press Method

  1. Arrange flowers on parchment paper, and place another sheet of paper on top.
  2. Close book and set a heavy object on top to apply pressure.
  3. Wait 2-4 weeks for flowers to dry completely.

DIY Wooden Press Method

  1. Drill four holes in the corners of the plywood/MDF, or use a store-bought wooden press.
  2. Arrange flowers between two sheets of parchment paper and then two pieces of cardboard.
  3. Sandwich the pressed flowers between the two pieces of wood/MDF. Then, tighten the bolts and nuts through the holes in each corner.
  4. Wait 2-4 weeks for the flowers to dry completely.

Microwave Flower Press Method

  1. Place flowers on the inner lining of the microwave flower press, and cover with the remaining lining and felt pieces.
  2. Microwave the flowers for an initial "burst" of about 25 seconds or per the manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Open the press to release moisture before continuing to microwave in 10-second intervals. Release moisture in between bursts to prevent scorching and burning.
  4. Gently peel flowers away from the fabric lining once flowers are completely dry.

Ironing Method

  1. Place flowers between two sheets of parchment paper or other absorbent paper.
  2. Turn off any steam settings, and iron the flowers on low heat in 15-30 second intervals.
  3. Let the flowers cool before continuing to press.



Notes

Each method has trade-offs between the time required and the quality of the finished pressed flowers.

The best method for preserving flowers and keeping texture and color is either the book press or DIY wooden press, followed closely by the microwave method.

Given the convenience and quality, microwaving is my preferred method of pressing flowers for craft projects, resin jewelry, and pressed flower art.

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