Flower pressing is a very old activity practiced by countless artists, scientists, and plant enthusiasts over the centuries. When properly cared for, a pressed flower can last for a very long time–some museums have pressed flower specimens that are centuries old!

Plant specimens are everywhere! Flower pressing works just as well (or better!) with leaves as it does with blooms, so if you don’t have any flowers handy, try substituting leaves or even grass instead. Remember: if you’re picking flowers outside, stay away from other people’s gardens and property unless you have permission to gather flowers there. Also, don’t go overboard collecting plants! As a general rule of thumb, you should only gather one specimen for every twenty you see. This will keep the environment healthy and well-populated, and leaves enough plants and flowers for other people to enjoy.

For this activity, thin, small flowers work best. The main goal in pressing flowers is to remove all moisture from the plant. If the plant you’re trying to press has very thick parts (roses are one example) you may need to cut it into a flatter shape before trying to press it. (If moisture remains too long in the plant, it will mildew instead of drying out.)

You Will Need:

  • Flowers/leaves to press
  • Newspaper
  • A heavy book/books

First, arrange your cuttings on your newspaper. Make sure that none of your plants are overlapping each other. If you want to arrange the petals in a certain way, try to do so now–the plants will become too stiff after the drying process.

Finally, a use for the junk mail I keep getting!

Fold the newspaper onto the plants, then place a heavy book or other weight on top. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed across all of your plants, and you’re done! All you need to do now is wait 2-3 weeks for the plants to dry. (It may be necessary to change the newspaper each day if you’re pressing a thicker plant, but thinner plants should not require this.)

All that’s left to do now is…wait! You should leave your plants alone for 1-2 weeks as they dry out. If you’re pressing thicker flowers, you should (gently!) check on them each day and switch the old pressing paper for a new, dry piece (to ensure that the plant will not mildew.)

That oughta do it.

After 1-2 weeks have passed, presto! You’ve got a whole bouquet of flat plants!

Seen from wherever, it is flat.

Now you’re done! What do you do with pressed flowers, you ask? Well, anything you want!

Ideas for Pressed Flowers:

  • Glue or tape them to a piece of paper and label them with their common and scientific names
  • If you have casting resin at your house, make a paperweight or jewelry.
  • Carefully use clear packing tape to cover both sides of the flower. Trim excess to make a bookmark.
  • Tuck them into the pages of a diary to suggest a commentary on the ephemerality of youth
  • Use them in a collage
  • Write a letter and mail them to a friend (you might want to store them between two pieces of cardboard before mailing to help ensure that they don’t get crushed or bent in transit. To be on the safe side, make extra-double-sure you aren’t mailing seeds–this could create an invasive species issue for your recipient if the seeds are discarded!)

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