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What is a Flower Press?

Sally Foster
Updated: Feb 02, 2024

Pressed flowers can be used to add a decorative touch to books, stationary, homemade paper and many other craft projects. Flowers and foliage can be purchased pre-pressed in craft stores, or they can be picked fresh and preserved at home. While there are several different techniques used for pressing flowers, most involve the use of an item called a flower press.

Flower presses can be purchased in many arts and crafts stores. The two most common types of flower presses are the botanical flower press, also known as an air-dry press, and the microwave press. These devices can be used to easily preserve flowers at home.

The botanical flower press usually consists of several layers of material that serve to flatten and dry the desired plant material. Two smooth, flat pieces of plywood can be used as the top and bottom layers of the press. In between the pieces of plywood, sheets of material are layered in the following order: one sheet of cardboard, two sheets of blotter paper, and a second sheet of cardboard. The outer layers of plywood are then fastened together with either Velcro or bolts that are drilled through each corner.

The microwave flower press is similar in composition to the botanical press. However, the microwave flower press features lightweight wooden frames covered with nylon padding as the outer layers of the press. This material is more breathable and therefore allows the foliage to dry more quickly than the plywood does.

Both types of flower press work in a similar fashion. Fresh flowers or leaves are arranged in one layer between the two sheets of blotter paper. If desired, the user may press several layers at a time by stacking more sheets of cardboard and blotter paper in between the outer layers of the press. Once the foliage is arranged inside the flower press, the Velcro strips or bolts are tightened, squeezing the flowers into a flattened shape.

When using a botanical press, it is best to leave the plant material in the press for one to three weeks, depending on the thickness of the material. Check the bolts or Velcro for tightness each day, retightening if necessary. The flowers will be ready when there is absolutely no moisture left in them.

The microwaveable flower press allows for a much shorter pressing time. When using a microwave press, heat the flowers in the microwave for about thirty seconds at a time, allowing them to cool in between. Repeat this process until the flowers are almost dry, then allow them to remain in the press for about another day.

While pre-made presses can be found in many craft stores, it is also very simple to construct your own flower press at home. All you need is two same-sized pieces of plywood, a few sheets of cardboard, a few sheets of paper and four bolts. If all else fails, the heavy book method is always a successful way to safely and inexpensively press flowers at home.

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Sally Foster
By Sally Foster
Based in Istanbul, Turkey, Sarah is a freelance writer who has experience teaching English language courses and running an expat community blog. Since joining the WiseGeek team several years ago, Sarah has become a veritable fount of knowledge on many obscure topics. She holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon, where she majored in Romance Languages (Spanish and Italian) and Linguistics, and an M.A. in TESOL from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

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Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Jun 15, 2014

@KoiwiGal - I also find that a food dryer can work quite well if all you want is to preserve the flowers. Pressed flowers are nice for cards and things like that, but sometimes you want to be able to preserve the shape of the flower.

By KoiwiGal — On Jun 14, 2014

@Mor - A flower press works much better if you do it a lot, simply because it can apply more pressure in a smaller space. I found that I would have to put several books on top of each other and layer the paper as well, so that the flowers would press properly and not rot before they dried out. The longer it takes, the less color seems to be left in the flowers as well.

The arrangement can take up a lot of space and there's always the risk that someone will clear away your books before you're finished with them.

I'd much rather use a flower press. They aren't expensive or anything and if you know how to use a power drill you can make one in about five minutes.

By Mor — On Jun 13, 2014

I used to love pressing flowers in books when I was a kid. Even today I can still sometimes open an old book in my mother's house and find some flowers pressed in there.

Now that I'm older, I tend to do it when a flower has a particular meaning for me. I think the last time I did it was when a friend of mine slipped some flowers into my pocket without telling me so that I would find them later.

It was such a nice gesture, I wanted to remember it, so I pressed the flowers once they started to wilt.

Sally Foster
Sally Foster
Based in Istanbul, Turkey, Sarah is a freelance writer who has experience teaching English language courses and running...
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