The allure of fresh flowers is absolutely appealing; they can freshen up your kitchen table top or add a pop of color to your credenza. Why not create a lasting showpiece from a bouquet of fresh blooms?
There are many different methods to preserve flowers, but drying them with silica gel is easy, quick, and keeps the look of flowers at the height of their beauty. Instead of allowing your next special bouquet of roses to wilt in their vase, consider preserving them using this tutorial for a display that will last for years.
Equipment / Tools
- Plastic Container with Lid
- 6 to 12 fresh roses
- 1 jar silica gel
- 1 can spray sealant
- 1 cube floral foam
- Wooden or Cardboard Display Container
Select Roses and Let Them Bloom
Select a bouquet of roses that are open, but not fully blossomed. Allow them to completely bloom in a vase with plenty of water situated near a sunny window. When the roses look perfect, remove them from the vase and gently dry them with a kitchen towel. Gather the rest of your materials for your flower preservation.
Trim the Stem and Leaves
Using a pair of sturdy kitchen scissors or gardening shears, remove the leaves and thorns from your roses. Trim each flower so that only about two inches of stem remain. To determine how many roses you’ll need, consider your display container. For each two square inches of area in your container, you’ll need about one fully bloomed rose.
Add the Silica Gel
Pour silica gel crystals into your plastic container until you have a layer two inches thick. Place your roses into the gel, stem-side down. Carefully cover each flower with more silica beads, using your fingertips to gently pull apart the petals to ensure the gel fully penetrates the blossom. Cover the plastic container with its airtight lid, and store it in a cool, dry place for one to two weeks. For larger flowers, leave them in the closed container for the full two weeks to ensure they’re fully dried.
For a speedier drying method, pop the roses in the lidded container into the microwave for one to two minutes on low power. Gently squeeze a petal between your fingers, if the petal feels dry to the touch, but not quite crunchy, the flowers are preserved.
Apply the Sealant
Remove the flowers from the plastic container, and gently shake each one to remove any excess silica gel. Pull apart the petals very lightly to make sure they’re completely clear of silica. Don't discard your silica gel, though; you can pour it onto a baking sheet and pop it into a 250-degree oven for two hours to revive it and make it usable for another batch or two of fresh flowers.
Lay the dried roses onto a piece of scrap cardboard, then bring them to a well-ventilated area (outside is best) to apply the sealant. At a distance of 8 to 10 inches, spray each flower with one very light coat of clear sealant. Rotate each rose as you spray for full coverage, then allow each one to dry completely.
Tip: When selecting your spray sealant, choose a formula with a matte finish. While a glossy topcoat is often pretty, it can make your fresh flowers look faux.
Prepare the Container
Insert a piece of floral foam into your display container. While your foam doesn’t need to fill the form from edge-to-edge, be sure that it fits snuggly. If you need to trim your foam to fit your container, use a sharp craft knife or metal file.
Arrange the Preserved Roses
Insert each preserved rose into the floral foam. Press each bloom far enough into the foam so that no amount of stem is visible from the outside. Fill the display container completely so that there’s no negative space left. Fluff the rose petals with your fingers lightly. While a few preserved roses look fantastic in a neutral box, you could easily paint your container or add a coordinating ribbon to embellish things even further.
Display in Ideal Conditions
Display your preserved roses wherever you’d like to add a classy accent to your decor. If kept out of direct sunlight and in a relatively cool environment, your preserved roses can last for up to three years. Sweep lightly with a feather duster occasionally to keep your roses in pristine condition.