How To Press Flowers and Preserve the Magic of Spring

Posted on Apr 8, 2016

Spring is a special time of year. It seems that each day a new bit of color pops up in the neighborhood, whether it’s the bright green of the tulip shoots, the yellow of the daffodils, the deep purple of the violets, the creamy white of the magnolia blossoms or the bright pink of the cherries. Pressing flowers and foliage is a simple way to chronicle and preserve the colors of springtime. Plus, gathering flowers is a great way to engage your senses and be present, whether you’re on a hike or merely walking through your neighborhood. Luckily, it’s easy to press flowers!

how to press flowers - pistils nursery

There are many ways to press flowers, from the most barebones DIY method of placing them between the pages of a book, to more hi-tech methods using a microwave. We like to stick to the basics and use a classic wooden flower press – in fact, we love pressing flowers so much that we designed and produced our very own! It’s a pretty easy project to fashion your own personal flower press, but for this tutorial, we’ll be using our Black Walnut Flower Press, available in our retail store and web shop (Sunset Magazine called it “must have” in their January, 2016 issue, and it was recently featured in the Seattle Times’ NW Showcase!)

How To Press Flowers

Step 1: Gather

What you need: Basket or bag, a sharp pair of scissors, and a ziplock bag with a moist paper towel (optional).

Stash a small pair of scissors in your basket or bag, and get out into the neighborhood. If you know your neighbors, ask permission to clip a flower or two. Keep in mind the size of your flower press, and pick your specimens accordingly. We like to keep our cuttings about 3-4″ long if we’re including a bit of the stem and foliage. Alternately, cut just below the base of the flower. Place specimens in your basket. Think about what you ultimately want to do with your died flowers, and gather accordingly, trying to keep your clippings varied. Parks are a great place to look, but wildflowers pop up everywhere; medians, sidewalks, and abandoned lots often lead to exciting discoveries.

For best results, always pick clean flowers and leaves free of blemishes and spots. It’s easiest to press flowers that are dry, so avoid going to look during or directly after a rain. If you’re going to be out for more than an hour or so, place the cut stems in the ziplock bag, so that they make contact with the moist paper-towel. This well help keep them fresh during your journey.

If you’re venturing out of the city or off of your property to gather flowers, please remember to gather responsibly. Many of our natural areas are safe havens for threatened and sensitive species, and many have restrictions about what flowers, if any, can be cut. That said, the wild flowers of the Columbia Gorge are what inspired us on our journey to design and sell a flower press, and they make lovely specimens to press, when appropriate.

Step 2: Prepare your specimens

how to press flowers-3

Once you’re home, you’ll want to get your new specimens in your flower press as quickly as possible. Lay out your flowers on the counter, and trim away any unwanted leaves. Cut stems at an angle. Brush off any dirt with a moist paper-towel. If your flowers have wilted slightly, place them in a vase and allow them to rehydrate for about an hour. Discard any specimens that have wilted.

Using your scissors, split any thick flowers in half for best results.

If you can’t press your flowers for whatever reason, close them in a ziplock and put them in the refrigerator to extend their freshness.

Step 3: Arrange specimens in press

how to press flowers-4

Open your flower press and remove all cardboard/vellum paper inserts except for the bottom. You’ll want to distribute specimens throughout the press, starting at the bottom layer, putting your flowers on top of the cardboard inserts between 2 sheets of vellum.

Try to distribute the flowers throughout the press evenly, so that there aren’t any large bumps that would cause them to dry unevenly. It’s helpful not to over fill the press. We like to stick to 3-5 specimens per layer.

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Replace the top of your flower press on the screw posts. It’s okay if you can’t fit all the cardboard and vellum back in at once – you can set some sheets aside for later use. Screw the wing-nuts back on the posts, and tighten evenly around all 4 corners. You want to tighten firmly, but not so firmly that the cardboard compresses unnecessarily.

Step 4: Press flowers, wait, unveil!

how to press flowers-steps

This last step in how to press flowers is arguably the most difficult: patience! For best results, you’ll want to leave your specimens undisturbed for at least 2-3 weeks. Set your flower press aside, somewhere it can be admired but not forgotten about. The ideal location will be nice and dry, with good air circulation, as the goal here is for your flowers to dry as quickly as possible. While you’re waiting, you can brainstorm fun ideas for how you’ll use your new pressed flowers and foliage!

Check in on your flowers after about a week by seeing if you can tighten the wing-nuts down a bit more. As the flowers dry, they contract, which will make your press feel a bit loose. Tighten them down again to keep the drying going.

After 2-3 weeks, it’s time to see how you did. Unscrew the top of the flower press, and carefully remove the top sheets of cardboard and vellum. It’s common for flowers to stick a bit, so take care when you open the press not to rip them as you pull off the paper. If your flowers feel totally dry, and still colorful and vibrant, you’re all done! It helps to use tweezers to pull them off the page.

How to press flowers - pistils nursery

Any flowers that still feel moist can go back in your press for another week of drying. The rest can be used in craft projects, home decorating and more! The possibilities are truly endless.

Now that you know how to press flowers, how will you use them? We want to know! Share your ideas in the comments, and post photos to Facebook and Instagram – we’ll repost our favorites!


  1. Stephanie
    April 13, 2016

    Love this!

    • Jesse
      April 15, 2016

      Thank you!

  2. steph
    May 10, 2016

    Simple! Thanks! I’m going to make a pendant for a necklace 🙂

    • Jesse
      May 11, 2016

      Awesome! Sounds like a fun project. Enjoy!

  3. flowers in Auckland CBD
    December 9, 2016

    Great to learn about this today! We just added a link to resources accompanying a popular article on the value of seeking out independent and we welcome you to suggest other ways we can guide people to seek out American-grown. We could add a couple of paragraphs on the topic to this article or perhaps publish an accompanying piece if you like. Thanks!

  4. Giuliana
    May 2, 2017

    Thank you, this is great!
    I just wanted to know: does the color remain? if it does, for about how much time? Or do the flowers eventually turn brownish?

    • S.padmino
      October 2, 2017

      I have tried pressing flowers -orchids but after a week the colour was not retained turned brown and flowers were detached from the stalk.How to.prevent this.kindly let me know

  5. S.padmino
    October 2, 2017

    I have tried pressing flowers -orchids but after a week the colour was not retained turned brown and flowers were detached from the stalk.How to.prevent this.kindly let me know

  6. Jody
    August 11, 2018

    How do you store the dried, pressed flower before using it in a project?

  7. Mio
    October 21, 2018

    I loved this! It was hard to wait for 2 weeks because I was so excited! Since it is winter my flowers dried pretty fast. I superglued them into my clear phone case and it looks awesome!

    • Jaime
      April 3, 2019

      Hi. Do you still have your phone case? Could you share a pic? What a neat and creative idea!

  8. Inés de Castro
    January 14, 2019

    Hi, I have a question because English is not my native language, it’s Spanish.
    I need yo know wich kind of paper you use to put the flowers onto and with what material you cover each layer of flowers.

    I don’t understand what “vellum” means.
    I would Like to make book markers but everytime I put tree leaves into books: they lose their original colour and remain just brown.

    Can you help me?? I would appreciate all your help very much.
    Thakn you!!

    • Alexander
      March 7, 2019

      Hi Inés, vellum can mean a couple things. originally, it was a sheep skin. Today, vellum refers to a type of plant based paper. it is very similar to tracing paper or tissue paper, but is typically thicker. for pressing flowers, you can use several types of paper. you must be careful, though, to avoid papers that have a texture.

  9. Jaime
    April 3, 2019

    Hi. Does the color stay? If so, for how long? Also, I was wondering if an absorbent type of paper would work better in the press – maybe they would dry faster and the paper can be switched out after a week. It just popped in my head so I though I would ask if there was such a material that could be used in a press that would work. Thanks!


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