How To Preserve Dried Leaves and Flowers

How To Preserve Dried Leaves and Flowers by Sisters Know Best

Since writing the post about DIY Fall Leaf Roses, we’ve been asked how to preserve leaves. Of course, we have since they are so beautiful and fun to make! Who wouldn’t want to keep them around as long as possible? There are quite a few ways to preserve dried leaves and flowers. #3. How To Preserve Leaves with Hairspray is our favorite way but we’ve listed other ways below so you can choose what you like best. If you have other ways, we would all love to hear about them!

How to Preserve Dried Leaves and Flowers

1. Glycerin

Glycerin is a great way to preserve dried leaves and flowers. Because glycerin is shiny, the preserved leaves look more natural. This method works with branches or twigs, too. For branches or twigs, cut off the tips of the stems or twigs and crush the ends to increase absorption.
Steps to Preserve Dried Leaves and Flowers with Glycerin:
  1. Use 1 part glycerin and 2 parts of water. Heat the water to 150-180°, then add the glycerin to reduce the temperature to 100°F.
  2. Make sure to use plenty of the mixture for the stems to absorb the glycerin – they will need to be completely covered.
  3. Place the leaves, branches, and twigs in the mixture to soak.
  4. This process takes 2-6 weeks. You can tell it’s complete by how the leaves will look. They typically turn a greenish-brown.

Pro Tip: Check levels daily and replenish with water only.

How to Preserver Dried Leaves and Flowers

2. How To Preserve Flowers and Leaves with Shellac

Use 1 part shellac and 2 parts denatured alcohol. Dip the leaves or flowers into the mixture or apply with a paintbrush. Make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area or outside. We use this shellac for preserving our flowers and leaves.

 3. How To Preserve Leaves with Hairspray

Spray the entire leaf or flower with hairspray. Coat 3-4 times for best effect. If you were doing your hair in the 80’s and 90’s then you know the best hairspray for the job is Aquanet. 🙂

Bowl of Dried Leaves and Fruit

 4. Modge Podge is a great way to preserve leaves and flowers

I use this modge podge to protect and preserve complex puzzles when finished. It’s also perfect to preserve leaves. Simply apply it with the brush provided. We recommend two coats, allowing the first coat to dry completely before applying the second.

5. Wax to Preserve Dried Leaves and Flowers

Thank you to our reader Carol for her suggestion of wax (aka paraffin)! Dip in hot wax, drain the excess and let dry – just be careful not to get hot wax on your hands! She said her leaves have lasted over 40 years!  Clearly, this is her best solution to how to preserve leaves!

Bouquet of dried flowers

6. Acrylic Spray

Our fabulous reader, Rosemary, suggests acrylic spray to preserve dried leaves and flowers. It holds the color well and is easy to apply. Be sure to form the leaves and flowers into any shapes you want first as the spray becomes stiff when dry. When I looked for it on Amazon, I noticed Modge Podge makes one of these sprays too!

What other methods do you use to preserve dried leaves and flowers? We’d love to hear from you and see pictures!

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42 thoughts on “How To Preserve Dried Leaves and Flowers”

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  2. A couple of questions. Do you immerse the leaves entirely or just the stems? And I’m not sure what you mean by “Heat to 100°F by heating the water to 150-180°”

      1. I have used a mix of mod podg n water spray on. I also glitter the tips ….ads something…. Hair spray I use n a few thick coats to crystalized state. Gonna try the wax next. Thanks guys

  3. I don’t them to change colors. I like the leaves being a yellow or reddish color. We see enough of em brown here in Texas as it is. Will just spraying them with acrylic spray after they are formed work just as well?

  4. My leaves hold their color pretty well through the season and some I get to use several years when I spray them with clear acrylic as soon as I get them home. So I think it would be key to form the flowers immediately and then spray quickly also.

  5. Thank you for posting the lovely flowers, Neat idea. Years ago, when we would collect leaves as kids, my Mother would iron them between two layers of waxed paper between two tea towels. Leaves stayed bright and flexible. Lasted for a long time.

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  7. I have successfully preserved my leaves by placing them between two pieces of waxed paper, make sure the waxed side is inside. Cover with a piece of a brown paper bag or a tea towel/dish cloth. Then using your iron set on a med/high heat, run it back and forth across your leaves until the wax is transferred.
    Be sure to peel the paper off immediately or it will stick to your leaves as it cools. Lift your leaves by their stems and place on a clean surface and allow them to cool completely. Depending on what you intend to do with them will determine how long they will last. I like to scatter them around for an “Autumn” feel inside. I learned this when I was in Grade 7 from a Home Economics teacher. 45 years ago!

  8. I have some leaves I cherish from a wonderful place I used to work. I put them between the pages of books so they are dry and have stayed there for many years. I want to preserve them and hang them in my home. I am wondering the best way since they are already dried and have been this way for years. I seems that some of the instructions are for fresh leaves picked and flattened and may still have some moisture in them. What is your suggested way for my leaves so they don’t break? I’m fine with them staying flat. I’m thinking wax paper, but want to get your advice. Thanks!

  9. Hairspray question: do you spray stems and branches before or after they dry?
    I have cut some stems a few days ago and they are dried now and would like to keep them for making wreaths 🙂
    Thanks heaps, Karen

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