How to Press Flowers: 4 Methods

Press flowers with an iron, book, microwave, or by making your own flower press.

pressing fresh flowers between pages of heavy book surrounded by other sprigs

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes - 3 weeks
  • Yield: As many pressed flowers as you'd like
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to 65.00

Pressing flowers yourself is an easy and rewarding craft. They can act as a keepsake, framed artwork, a meaningful gift, or part of a larger art project. The practice of pressing flowers dates back to ancient times as a form of collecting and preserving flower species. Later, in the 16th century, Japanese artists began incorporating pressed flowers into artwork. The practice gained popularity and spread westward, eventually becoming an accessible and admired craft.

Pressing flowers is very simple. There are various techniques to produce a pressed flower but they are all relatively similar: You take a flower, place it between two flat surfaces and use weight to dry and flatten the flower over a period of time. Some flowers press and preserve better than others, and some methods take more time than others. The uses of pressed flowers are endless and can ignite a creative and botanic hobby that brings nature into your home.

The following four methods use different techniques to easily press flowers at home. You will begin, of course, by collecting a variety of flowers for your project.

hand holds up picked small yellow flower with a background of yellow flowers behind
Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

The One-in-Twenty Rule When Choosing Flowers

Pick flowers from your own garden or salvage flowers from an event so they do not go to waste. If you are picking wild plants, botanist Fred Rumsey recommends using a “one in twenty rule,” meaning if you see a group of 20 or so flowers, you can take only one of them to ensure others can enjoy the flowers and that the plant can survive. Only pick flowers that have just bloomed, as they are the freshest for pressing.

After choosing your flowers, treat them delicately to avoid any damage or petals falling. Press and dry them as quickly as possible to preserve the color.

Cut flower stems as close to the base of the blooms as possible. Flowers that are naturally flatter or have only a single layer of petals will press better, such as daisies, violets, and delphiniums. For fuller flowers, push out the petals from the center to make pressing easier.

What You'll Need

Materials

  • 1 to 10 fresh flowers

Equipment/Tools

  • 2 to 10 newspaper sheets
  • 1 to 3 weights (if using method 1 or 3)
  • 2 to 10 paper towel pieces (if using method 2 or 3)

Instructions

Method 1: How to Press Flowers Using a Book

  1. Prepare Your Book

    open book lined with newspaper with fresh flowers ready for pressing

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Open a large, thick book to the middle and line it with newspaper. Any other smooth paper will work as well.

  2. Flower Placement

    hand places lavender sprig in open book
    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Place your flowers in the book, centering so that they fit completely within the binding. Try to lay the flower as flat as possible, with no parts jutting out.

  3. Place Weights

    person in orange sweater places heavy books to press flowers in book on bottom

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Carefully close the book and weigh it down with weights, other books, etc. Anything heavy will work.

    Keep your book and weighing materials in a warm, dry place and check the flowers daily to determine how wet they are. This process will take several days; the exact time will vary depending on the type of flower and ambient.

  4. Remove Your Flowers

    hand removes dried pressed flower from open book
    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Once your flowers have completely dried out, carefully remove them from the book. The flower should feel very dry and fragile, so treat it gently to avoid breakage.

Method 2: How to Press Flowers Using a Microwave

In addition to the supplies listed above, you will need a flat microwave-safe dish.

  1. Prepare Your Flowers

    baby's breath is tucked between two sheets of paper towels for pressing

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Place a piece of paper towel flat on your work surface.

    Place your chosen flowers on top of the paper towel, blooms up. Then, layer another piece of paper towel on top of the flowers.

  2. Microwave

    hand places flowers pressed between paper towel and dishes for drying in microwave

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Carefully put your pile of paper and flowers in the microwave and rest a microwave-safe, flat, heavy dish on top to weigh the flowers down. Ensure that all your flowers are underneath the dish.

    Microwave the flowers for a minute on defrost.

  3. Check Flowers and Repeat

    fresh baby's breath blooms on paper towel with another towel layered over

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura


    Check the flowers to see how dry they are. Microwave for 30-second intervals, checking them each time until they are ready.

    If you are pressing different flowers together, they will dry at different times. Smaller flowers take less time. The flowers are ready when they are dry and flat.

Method 3: How to Press Flowers Using an Iron

  1. Prepare Your Flowers

    small fresh flowers are placed between two sheets of newspaper for pressing

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Place your flowers between two sheets of absorbent paper, such as newspaper or paper towels. Flatten slightly with a heavy object such as a book.

  2. Iron

    hand runs iron over folded newspaper to gently press fresh flowers

    Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

    Run a warm iron over the top sheet of paper covering your flowers from 10 to 20 seconds.

Method 4: How to Make Your Own Flower Press

hand opens up day planner filled with dried pressed wildflowers

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

For this method you will be making your own flower press, which will require several additional supplies:

  • 2 pieces of wood of equal size
  • 2 pieces of cardboard
  • 1 marker
  • 1 drill
  • 1 large piece of scrap wood
  • 1 sander
  • 4 carriage bolts
  • 4 wing nuts
  1. Prepare the Wood

    Cut two pieces of wood to equal size and shape. The size you make your wood will dictate how many flowers you can press at one time.

    Make a mark with a pen at approximately one inch from each corner of every wood piece. These marks will act as a drill guide, so make sure they are evenly spaced and not too close to the edge of the board.

  2. Drill and Sand

    Stack the marked wood pieces on top of each other and align evenly. Place on a work surface or scrap wood and use a drill to make a hole into the marks made at the four corners. Allow the drill to go completely through both pieces of wood, creating matching holes.

    Sand the holes and sides to eliminate any rough edges.

  3. Prepare Cardboard and Paper

    Cut cardboard pieces and newspaper to a slightly smaller size than the wood boards.

  4. Flower Placement

    On top of one wood board, layer a piece of cardboard and then a few layers of newspaper before gently placing your flower on top. If you are pressing multiple flowers at a time, make sure they are not touching each other.

    Add a few more layers of newspaper and a layer of cardboard on top of the flower. Top the pile with the second wood board.

  5. Press the Flowers

    Place carriage bolts into the holes drilled into the wood boards while being careful not to disturb your paper and flower pile.

    Screw the wing nuts onto the bolts and press the top board down with your hand to tighten the wings further.

  6. Allow to Dry

    Allow your flower press a few days to rest in a dry location. Begin checking on the dryness of the flowers after a week. The pressing process could take up to two to three weeks.

leather-bound journals decorated with dried and pressed flowers

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

DIY Projects With Pressed Flowers

  • Framed art or between panes of glass
  • “Paint” with pressed flowers by making shapes out of them (a heart for example)
  • Flower card
  • Bookmark
  • Décor for a candle
  • Décor for a bowl, plate, or box
  • Preserve a wedding bouquet or corsage
  • For scientific purposes or teaching children about different plant species
  • Gift tags
  • Easter egg décor
  • Ornaments
  • Part of a sensory bin