How to Press Flowers

When picked at their peak and preserved, pressed flowers offer a wonderful way to savor the beauty of summer long after its blooms have faded from the garden.

pressed flowers
Photo: Adrienne Bresnahan / Getty Images

Pressing flowers not only allows you to preserve blooms—it also gives you a way to record your garden's evolution from year to year. Plus, pressed blooms can be used and enjoyed in a myriad of ways, says Janie Gross, a gardener, artist, and the author of Afterlife of Flowers. She shared the art and science of pressing flowers along with some of her own techniques, using a microwave and a custom vented, microwavable press.

The best flowers for pressing are those with a single layer of petals, such as cosmos and delphinium; Virginia blue bell tulips, pink miniature roses, perennial geraniums, and forget-me-nots work well, too. Thicker flowers, such as peonies, lilies, and large roses are generally not good candidates, notes Gross. For the best result, you should always begin with freshly cut flowers (it's also best to cut them in the afternoon, after the morning dew has had a chance to evaporate). Want to learn more about pressing flowers and leaves? Read up on our best tips—and discover ways to turn your creations into works of art.

What You'll Need


  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Microwaveable press
  • Book
  • Weight
  • Avery sheets or airtight plastic bag
  • Flower press
  • Utility knife


  1. Begin by cutting the stems short enough so that they'll fit in your press (Janie's press is a custom-designed model, but you can use a generic press from a crafts store).

  2. Place the flower on a sheet of clean paper, and continue placing additional flowers to design your layout; just make sure the flowers aren't touching one another. Leave the flowers in the press until dry, which should take three to five days, depending on the flower and the humidity levels outside.

  3. If your flower is more complex, meaning that it has more than one row of petals, you'll need to dissect it before pressing. (Janie uses a Japanese knife for dissecting, but you can use a utility knife), cutting it in half and removing the pistols and stamen.

  4. At this point, Janie uses a vented, microwavable press, which has layers of cardboard and sheeting between two pieces of felt, to press her flowers in the microwave. Alternately, you can use two pieces of stiff cardboard and a non-porous weight such as a small piece of marble. Place the flower between the cotton sheeting, place it in the microwave, starting at a medium heat, and set the timer for 35 seconds. Flip the press over, and microwave for an additional 20 seconds; check it, then microwave 20 seconds more. Remove.

  5. Set the flower between sheets of paper, and weight with a book until completely dry, about one hour. Once pressed, store your flowers in protected Avery sheets or in an airtight plastic bag away from direct light.

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