Make flowers last

Sunday, February 14, 2010
Bunch of flowers in a vase

A gift of flowers is beautiful when first received and for a short time thereafter. However, recipients of a precious Valentine's Day bouquet are soon faced with throwing their roses or other flowers away when they lose their original appeal.

Why not make use of those wilting petals? There are several fun and easy ways to repurpose roses and other flowers so they may last as a testament of a cherished gift.

Two local florists, Janet Hahs, owner of Country Shade Craft Mall, and Kathryn Landewee, owner of Knaup Floral, shared tips on how to preserve and reuse flowers that may mean too much to throw away.

~ Southeast Missourian

*** Pressing petals

Hahs suggests pressing flower petals for those who wish to use them in crafts. One decorative example she said she has seen is pressed flowers applied to a window for decoration, adhered to the glass with clear glue.

Pressing rose petals, or sprigs of smaller flowers like baby's breath, is a simple process.

To press flowers, cut small sprigs or remove petals and place inside a thick catalog or book, one per several pages, and allow to dry for up to two weeks. Since the color from the flowers could absorb into the pages, place coffee filters between the flower and the pages to absorb moisture and prevent staining.

The pressed flowers will adhere to many nonporous surfaces when covered with a clear acrylic or polyurethane glue.

For example, pressed flowers on the front of a handmade card or stationery or adorning the cover of a journal make great gifts.

Other ideas for pressed flowers or petals include adding them to containers for decorative use, such as glass votive candles, to make luminarias. To make luminarias, use clear glue to attach pressed flowers to the glass. Cover the flowers with several coats of a polyurethane adhesive, found in any craft supply store. Allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next coat.

A flower mosaic is another decorative option for pressed flowers. Take several photographs of the bouquet when it is first received. Have the photographs printed, and attach them to a medium-size artist's canvas. Glue the pressed flowers and other small objects to the canvas to make a mosaic.

Cut and dried

Can't stand to tear apart that beautiful bouquet?

Drying the flowers is another option, Landewee said.

In order to dry a bouquet, Landewee said to shorten the stems with scissors and use a wire hanger to hang the flowers upside down in a dark, dry place for several weeks. The entire bouquet can be preserved.

She said it would also help to preserve the flowers by first spraying them with hairspray once they begin to wilt, which she said was a more economical choice than purchasing a silicone preservation kit, found in craft supply stores.

Oil and candles

Though most Valentine's Day bouquets contain roses, Hahs said those can be the most difficult petals to reuse because they become brittle when allowed to dry.

If the flowers become too brittle to keep in a bouquet, consider adding the petals to corked glass bottles with oils, herbs and spices. Use the bottles as decorative items, and remove the lids to let aromas fill the rooms in the home.

Adding rose petals to candles is another simple and cheap way to make the most of leftover flowers with the help of a small amount of rose oil.

To make rose-scented candles, melt down lightly colored, unscented candle wax on the stove in a medium-size saucepan. Stir in the flower petals and several drops of rose oil. Pour the wax into glass jars suitable for burning candles and drop in a wick.

Since dark-colored roses, will dry to a dark brown color, Landewee gave this tip on keeping fresh flowers looking their best longer.

She said to place the flowers in a container with a solution of one cup of water and one teaspoon of sugar, in the case a flower preservation granule solution does not come with the bouquet from the florist, or happens to run out.

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