plant pressing tips

by Kaylah Stroup

plant pressing tips

Around eight years ago I became interested in pressing plants. My love for the hobby has a sort of natural ebb and flow that’s fairly dependant on the season. Winter, obviously, isn’t a great time to find specimens. As soon as spring comes around each year I fall right back into old habits. Picking and saving all the prettiest little plants! It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s really satisfying!

Every time I share photos of my pressed plants I get a few questions on my methods. I’m all about experimenting with what I’m pressing and how I do it. There is no wrong way to do it unless of course, you’re not getting the results you want. I thought it might be helpful if I shared some tips for pressing plants that I’ve learned through trial and error and some information on what I use.

My supplies and method

I always keep a notebook in my bag for pressing plants. No matter where you go there is always an opportunity to find something pretty to press. I like these moleskin notebooks because of the size and the band that keeps it closed but honestly, any type of book works! Word to the wise, don’t press in any super special books. It will leave marks and potentially ruin the pages. This is why I like to have a dedicated notebook on hand.

When I get home I always try to empty my notebook so I have lots of room in case I hit the jackpot next time I step outside. Your specimens will most likely dry just fine if you leave them in your small notebook (I leave mine in there about half the time) but for the best results, I recommend doing this next step.

After I’ve emptied out my findings for the day I transfer all the plants to a larger notebook but not before first sandwiching them between paper towels. This really helps the drying process because all the moisture gets soaked up in the paper towel. After everything is neatly layered in my notebook I cover it with something heavy and try to forget about it for a week or so. Drying time obviously depends on the plant size!

After they’ve dried completely you’re free to do whatever you’d like with them. I normally move mine to yet another notebook (this one is perfect!) and tape down my plants with some washi tape. I tape them down because it holds them in place, looks nice and keeps them organized. Also, I can remove them if I ever want to use them for another project. The ones that don’t get organized in the notebook are placed in a Rubbermaid container. Just make sure not to place anything in the container that isn’t completely dry. If you add moisture, you’re probably just gonna end up with a moldy container of rotten plants.

I have plants that I dried many many years ago that are still holding up beautifully! They’re fragile, of course, but their colors haven’t faded.

Some tips!

▴ Press the prettiest! Let me state the obvious here, your plant isn’t going to get any prettier after being pressed! Make sure to choose the healthiest looking one of the bunch.
▴ Say no to plastic. There needs to be something to absorb to moisture or someway for to it to escape so avoid putting plants in plastic baggies or airtight containers before they’re dry.
▴ Press fresh things. You really don’t want to press plants that are already dry or dead, they’ll just crumble.
▴ Remember that however you put them in your notebook is how they’re going to look when they’re done. Arrange all stems, leaves and other parts exactly how you want them to be when they’re dry before you close up your notebook.
▴ Make sure your specimen is dry to the touch. Carefully wipe off any moisture before pressing.
▴ Use paper towels that are flat and do not have a bumpy design on them or else that design will be imprinted on your plants. I’m partial to Viva.
▴ Try not to put big juicy plants near small nearly dry ones in your notebook or else the moisture from the big one may compromise the quality of the small one.
▴ Keep a small piece of paper towel folded up between your phone and its case to press plants when you don’t have a notebook. I mostly use this for when I find four-leaf clovers. You’re going to want to get them out of here as soon as possible since it traps moisture but in a pinch, it’s a great thing to have.

I think that’s just about everything! Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, flower pressing is all about trial and error. After a little bit of practice, you’ll have your own routine that works for you. If you prefer to go a different route, plant presses exist (and have great reviews). I’ve also tried microwave flower presses! I always end back up at my favorite method though, the notebook! All you need to get started is a book of some sort to squish plants in between and you’re good to go!

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Ami May 22, 2018 - 10:12 am

Thanks Kaylah! I’ve been meaning to give flower pressing another go, these tips are really handy. What a great idea pressing flowers under your phone case! It’s a pain to take my case off but I think I will see if I can do something similar in my purse.

I need to think up some creative things to do with the flowers once they’re pressed, they normally just end up floating around my art supplies!

Kaylah May 23, 2018 - 9:03 pm

Hah! I feel ya! My container is pretty full of things I’ve had pressed for years! For a while I was sending them to penpals which I though was a really fun way to use them but really, I just hang on to the majority of them. I like sorting them and organizing them.

Susan May 23, 2018 - 11:03 am

I need to try this! A couple of years ago I found a flower press at a thrift shop for $2 and it’s time I put it to use. Thanks for posting these great tips.

Kaylah May 23, 2018 - 8:59 pm

Awesome! What a great find!

Good luck! 🙂

Sam May 28, 2018 - 9:02 am

This is soooo helpful! I actually bought my friend a flower press a few months ago and then instantly wanted to buy one for myself as well. When I was a kid I’d tuck flowers into many of my parents books and then forget about them. I have no doubt there are still books, now totally wrecked, with discarded flower remains inside them! EEEkkkk.

I really want to get back into this just because it’s so therapeutic and mindful – the idea of taking a piece of a day and preserving it. I don’t know, it’s romantic and whimsical and how I want to live my life, y’know? I also love framed pressed flowers so you’ve spurred me on! I’m going to start this week <3

Kaylah May 31, 2018 - 8:02 am

I feel ya! I love keeping a little piece of the day like that. It’s half the reason I love taking photos so much. Pressed flowers are just one more way I can steal little memories!

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