How to Preserve Real Flowers & Keep Their Color

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Knowing how to preserve flowers while keeping their color adds to your floral crafts.

When preserved, dried roses and other real flowers lose their color, and sometimes, they can look washed out. Pressed flowers naturally change colors when pressed, but the effects might not come out right when they are too dried out or damaged, if they're synthetically dyed or if they absorb too much moisture. There are ways to help them keep their color, though.

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Flowers for Drying

According to experts, pressing and drying flowers are two different things. Drying works well for flowers with rounder blooms, like peonies, roses and carnations. They can be gathered together and hung upside down, and it will take a few days for the moisture to evaporate.

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You can also microwave them, but to keep the color, you need to cover them with silica gel and put a glass of water in the microwave with the flowers. Heat them at 30-second intervals, checking them in between; it shouldn't take more than two to three minutes.

Which Flowers Can I Dry and Press?

Pressing is suitable for flowers that have flatter blooms and cone-shaped blooms, and you can cut them in half if they are thick. The first option is a traditional flower press, which takes seven to 10 days. Otherwise, you can try using a hot iron. Press the flowers between heavy books to flatten them first. Then, place them between two sheets of paper and iron them on low without using any steam.

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Some of the best annual flowers for drying are larkspur, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias, Queen Anne's lace and verbenas. Perennial flowers to try include roses, amaranthus, hydrangeas and pansies. If you prefer to skip the drying and pressing part, you can find dried roses and many other varieties in stores and online.

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Keeping the Colors Vibrant

Are you going the DIY route and want to retain flower color? Some experts recommend using flowers that have just opened up because fresher flowers mean fresher color. Snip them off in the afternoon once the morning dew has evaporated. You can also preserve color when hanging flowers. Leave at least 6 inches of the stems, strip off any excess foliage and tie the stems together with twine or a rubber band.

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The best place to hang them to dry is a dark, well-ventilated and dry area out of the sunlight. You could hang them on a clothesline or from nails in the wall; keep them away from heat vents to retain their color longer. They should be dry after two to three weeks, and you can spray them with unscented hairspray to protect them. Dust them with a feather duster if needed but remember that they are fragile. You can store them in boxes away from dry heat when not in use.

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You can use silica gel to preserve flower color but do not use the microwave. The gel is a drying powder that you can find at craft stores, and it should work better than air drying or microwaving. You'll need to submerge the flowers in the gel and let them stay there for one to two days. After that, you can pull out the flowers over a sink and gently remove the powder with a soft makeup brush.

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