Flower Preservation...the Options and the Results!
Flower Preservation...the Options and the Results!
An article written by Kathy Reid, Owner of Heller & Reid
The ON-LINE Massachusetts Wedding Guide

We associate many important life events with flowers; weddings, births, anniversaries, and even death. So it is not a surprise that man has been involved in some form of floral preservation since the beginning of time. wedding flower preservation
Air drying and floral pressing are age-old arts dating back to before Egyptian times. Silica gel drying came into vogue in the late 1700's. Ancient Indians in the high Andes Mountains practiced a form of freeze-drying. William Hyde Wallaston introduced the first modern freeze-drying method in 1813 to the Royal Society in London. The freeze dry method used today was perfected during World War II as a method to assist the storage of human plasma. Freeze drying is now employed quite extensively by pharmaceutical manufacturers and food producers. About 15 years ago the first flowers were successfully freeze-dried and over the years floral freeze-drying has become a combination of art and science.
Which method is the right for bridal flowers? That depends on the budget, the look you want to achieve, and the length of time you want your preserved flowers to last.

* Air Dried
* Silicia Gel
* Pressed Flowers
* Freeze Dried Flowers

Air Dried
Air-drying is a method that can be done by anyone. First divide the flowers into smaller bunches. Remove leaves and tie stems with twine, wire, or rubber bands. Hang bunches upside down in a warm, dry, dark area. Wait until all flowers are totally dry, two to three weeks.
PROS: It is easy and does not involve any cost.
CONS: All flowers darken in color and light shades turn to a dreary brown. Flowers shrivel and lose their shape. Short life span.
Silicia Gel
Silica gel looks like white sand but is formulated for floral drying. A few companies offer Silica drying or it can be at home. If you elect to do to yourself you can find silica gel at garden centers or hobby shops. It takes about three pounds to dry 12 average-sized flowers. Cover the bottom of an airtight container, such as a plastic sweater box with a layer of gel. Cut stems, remove leaves and place the flowers on the gel. Cover with more of the silica and cover. Tape the lid to make it as air tight as possible. Check after a week. If flowers feel papery, they are done. If not, close them up and check every two days or so. Remove the flowers and, if needed, use a blow dryer set on cool to remove traces of the silica gel.
PROS: Quick, most flowers dry in a week to 10 days. Can be inexpensive if you do it yourself. Flower shape and color more natural than dried.
CONS: Flowers become brittle, colors darken and flowers are fragile. Results not very natural with roses. Flowers last a little longer than with the air-dried method.
Pressed Flowers
Flowers with flat faces like pansies, petunias, violas and daisies press well. Thick flowers like roses must be pressed petal by petal and then the look of the flower recreated. To press your own flowers, place flowers between sheets of blotting paper and put into a flower press or make a press with two boards and weights. Flowers take two weeks to totally dry. If you want to reproduce a bouquet, use a company to press your flowers since it is a real art to recreate you bouquet.
PROS: You can do this yourself or select a company to do it for you.Flowers do not always retain the original color but can be color enhanced with paint. Flowers can last a lifetime.
CONS: Flowers lose their shape and large, thick flowers cannot be recreated to look natural, which is a problem for roses (the main flower in most bridal bouquets).
Freeze Dried Flowers
The method that results in the most natural looking flower is freeze-drying. A blend of science and art, freeze-drying retains the shape and color of your flowers almost as if they are still fresh. Expensive equipment is required and the process cannot be completed at home. With this method the bouquet is photographed and then taken apart. Each flower is dehydrated and then treated with a special solution to help it retain its' color. The flowers are then frozen (10 degrees below zero) before being put into the actual freeze dryer.
When the freeze dry cycle starts, the flowers are at 25 degrees below zero and a vacuum is pulled on the chamber. The vacuum pulls all the moisture out of the flowers slowly over a two-week period. During this period, the chamber warms up slowly to room temperature. When the flowers are removed, they are post-treated with a thin coating that protects them from fading and moisture. The bride's flowers are then redesigned into the display of her choice. The total process will take 8 to 12 weeks.

PROS: Flowers retain the shape, color and texture of fresh flowers and last for a lifetime if cared for properly.
CONS: Cannot be done at home, therefore, making it more expensive than do-it-yourself methods.
Selecting the Right Company to Preserve Your Flowers
Proper floral freeze-drying doesn't produce flowers that are brittle and lifeless as traditional drying methods do. There are very few experts in this industry because the equipment is expensive, requires extensive training to operate and knowledge about flowers and floral design is imperative. Flowers stay in the freeze dry equipment for about two weeks and the complete process can take up to 12 weeks.
There are a few things you should know prior to selecting a company to preserve your flowers:

* Do they pre-treat and re-hydrate the flowers before they freeze-dry them? This process helps retain the color of your flowers and opens the cells so they freeze dry with a natural look.
* Are all bouquets photographed and then disassembled for freeze-drying? This is the only way each flower will retain its' color and shape.
* Are the flowers post-treated after freeze drying? This process coats each flower with a thin, transparent layer that protects them from light and humidity.

Not all freeze-drying flower companies complete each step because of the time and labor required. Without these steps, however, your flowers may not retain their natural look or will have a shorter life span.
Flower Preservation Preserved flowers are attractive accents for any home and appear much more natural than silk arrangements. There are hundreds of frames, glass or acrylic domes and beautifully creative custom wall and tabletop designs available to display your flowers.
Consult a wedding flower preservationist at least two months prior to your wedding so you can arrange to have your flowers shipped or delivered while they are still fresh. Thousands of brides are now preserving their bouquets and wedding flowers; with so few experts in this industry, reservations must be made months in advance so you will not be disappointed.
Enjoy the sentimental memories for years to come - make this extraordinary display a key centerpiece in your new homes' decor or a gift to someone special. Just as you preserve your wedding gown, photographs and other sentimental wedding memorabilia, you can now preserve your bridal flowers for a lifetime of enjoyment. Bridal Flowers
Heller & Reid provide the very best in floral preservation and a full selection of contemporary frames and displays to protect your flowers for a lifetime of enjoyment. Floral preservation is available from Heller & Reid anywhere in the United States. A refrigerated floral preservation shipper will be sent at no additional charge and allows flowers and bouquets to be sent overnight express mail, FedEx, or UPS to our design center in Richardson, Texas. For more information on freeze drying and floral preservation and preservation of bridal bouquets, please visit http://www.hellerandreid.com or call toll free at (800) 742-9570.

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