9 July 2021

How to press flowers

Learn the art of pressing flowers with this fun how-to guide for kids.

By Katie Avis-Riordan

A selection of pressed flowers on a blue background

Pressing flowers is a brilliant way to preserve their beauty and intricacy.

We have many pressed specimens in our Herbarium at Kew – around seven million preserved vascular plants in fact, collected from all around the world over the past two centuries.

These specimens contain a wealth of information and help our scientists identify plants, study biodiversity and use the collection to support conservation, ecology and sustainable development.

The preservation process reduces the moisture in the plants which prevents them from rotting. This means the pressed specimens can last a long time and retain their colour and detail for years. 

Now it's time to put on your scientist lab coat and make your own pressed flowers...

Things you will need

  • Flowers
  • Some heavy books
  • Paper
  • Kitchen roll
A red flower in the wildflower meadow at Kew
Wildflowers at Kew ©RBG Kew

1. First of all, you need to select the flowers you want to press. You could pick some up at the supermarket or florist, or even in your back garden. 

There's an array of colour and shape to choose from. Purple, red, pink or yellow, the choice is yours!

Pink echinacea heads in full bloom in the Great Broadwalk Borders
Coneflower (Echinacea) in the Great Broadwalk Borders, Zoe Stewart ©RBG Kew

2. If you're picking your own flowers then make sure you have permission to do this.

The best time to pick is on a dry and sunny day after the dew has evaporated to limit moisture on the flower.

Indigo to blue flowers with nodding heads
Bluebells at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew
Bluebells in Bethlehem Wood at Wakehurst
Bluebells in Bethlehem Wood at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

3. Select a big book from your bookshelf and open it up to about halfway through. 

Lay a piece of paper on the open page. If you plan to press thicker flowers, you may want to add a sheet of kitchen roll too.

An open book resting on a table with plants behind
A heavy book is needed to press the flowers © Ben White/Unsplash
A blank piece of white paper on a table surrounded by green plants
A piece of paper to press your flowers © Val Pierce/Unsplash

4. Place your flower on the paper. Think about how you want to arrange the petals, leaves and stems. 

When you're happy with how it looks, rest another piece of paper on top and close the book. 

Several pressed flowers on white paper
Pressing flowers © Evie S/Unsplash

5. Pile more books on top of the closed book to add extra weight. Leave in a warm, dry place.

Check your pressed flowers every day until they no longer feel damp. 

If you added a piece of kitchen roll, remove this after one day.  

A pile of books
Pile of heavy books to press flowers © Claudia Wolff/Unsplash

6. When your flowers are completely dry, carefully remove them from the book.

Why not display them in a picture frame or even add them to your plant specimen book like a Kew scientist would?

A selection of pressed flowers on a blue background
Pressed flowers © Cary Bates/Unsplash
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