After all the HEAT we have had well into October, I must say I’m happy for a chilly day today!
I will greatly miss my fresh flowers during the months ahead, though, so I have been researching the topic of preserving flowers! I planted some Eucalyptus this spring and knew that preserving some mature branches of that plant (which did very well in my flower bed) would be on my fall ‘to do’ list.
Today was the day to begin the first stage of this preservation project! I harvested my Eucalyptus and also experimented with selected stems of assorted color zinnias, lavender, one sunflower, one cone flower, fern leaves and some cork screw type grass. While I’m not sure how the preservation of these selected flowers will go, I am quite hopeful about the Eucalyptus branches! I had planned on cutting some juniper to preserve for Christmas, but my son didn’t know my plans and he tore out and burned the juniper bushes at his house a few weeks ago!
Today’s steps in the preservation process were very easy…you may want to give it a try!
For this project you will need: water, vegetable glycerin, vases/containers and your flowers or greens. *Vegetable glycerin is the same type of product used to make soaps and lotions and can be found at Amazon.com.
Following are directions to begin the preserving process:
- Select some sturdy containers to use for this project. I used both glass jars and ceramic vases. If your stems are longer, you’ll want to use a taller container to support the branches. Plastic containers won’t stand solidly and will loose their shape when you add the hot water. One of these days I will find a use for those saved containers!
- Measure the amount of water you’ll need to insure ample amount for your containers. *Add extra so you will have some prepared mixture to use when you need to refresh the liquid in the vases. The process will continue for 6 weeks. Keep in mind, as you estimate the water you’ll need for your vases, that you’ll be using 2 parts water to 1 part glycerin.
- Place the WATER ONLY in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn off burner or remove from stove.
- Add the correct amount of glycerin to the boiled water. Remember…2 parts water to 1 part glycerin. (So, for every cup of water you use, you’ll need to add 1/2 cup of glycerin.)
- Stir this mixture for a while to make sure the glycerin is well dissolved in the water.
- At this point I transferred the mixture into the jars/vases that I had set aside. I thought doing this may speed up the cooling process. It doesn’t really matter WHEN you transfer into your containers.
- Allow this mixture to cool. (I added a few ice cubes for faster cooling because I was impatient! If you plan to add ice, use a bit less water to account for the melted ice. I forgot this part!)
- While your mixture is cooling, you’ll need to cut your flowers and foliage. Cut your specimen stems (on an angle) and trim off all lower foliage, as you would do to arrange cut flowers. I had many branches of Eucalyptus so as I cut, I stripped the lower leaves and laid them out according to size and stem width.
- Bunch the stems of similar sizes together and secure with a rubber band twisted onto the bare stems. I placed about 8 cuttings of similar sizes together.
- After your flowers/greens are bunched, you simply place them into the containers of water/glycerin mixture. *Make sure the stems of all the branches are placed way down into the container (touching the bottom) so that the liquid is easily absorbed through the stems.
- This step may be challenging, depending on your home, but you’ll need to find a cool, fairly dark and somewhat accessible location (so you can check frequently) to store your vases. The preserving process will take about 6 weeks! I have a laundry room that I walk through to the downstairs powder room but other than that, is used about once a week. My laundry also has a sink and counter so my preservation location was a ‘no brainer’!
- Next step is to WAIT and WATCH! Research indicates the process takes about 5-6 weeks. Indicators of a completed preservation are darker colored leaves and a smooth glossy feel to the leaves. *It is suggested is that you check the process from time to time as more water/mixture may need to be added to the vases or changed entirely if the water turns a nasty brown.
- The process was a bit messy, so I’m pretty sure clean up will be your last step!
That was my early afternoon project today! I will anxiously be watching and waiting as my Eucalyptus and cut flowers go through the preservation process. *An added bonus…My laundry room smells wonderful!
I will be back with an update sometime in November! “Til then, Happy Fall!
*If you try your hand at the art of preserving flowers or greens, please leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to follow your progress also!