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.
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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?
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
- Picking the best flowers for pressing
- Pressing flowers in a book
- Using a DIY flower press
- Pressing flowers in the microwave
- How to iron flowers
- What is the best way to press flowers?
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.
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.
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.)
- 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.
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
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!)
- Two 12 x 12-inch pieces of plywood or MDF
- Two pieces of paper (blotting or parchment paper)
- Four bolts and wingnuts
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.
- Microwave flower press
- Tweezers (optional)
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
What is the best way to press flowers?
I decided to create a little chart for an easy comparison across the methods (nerd alert!).
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!
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!