How to Preserve Fall Leaves

Pressing and Preserving fall leaves

One very important thing to know about using fall leaves for crafts is that unless they are properly preserved they will most likely become dry and brittle and begin to crumble. To avoid this the leaves should be first pressed to flatten them and second preserved to keep them from crumbling.

Pressing Leaves

This process is very simple, after you have collected all of the leaves that you like best place them between sheets of newspaper one on top of the other to save space. Then find an out of the way place to leave them for a week or two and place a flat heavy object on top of the stack and leave them to completely dry and flatten.

Preserving Your Fall Leaves

There are several different ways to preserve your fall leaves from the old fashion pressed leaves to soaking in a solution of glycerin and water. How you choose to preserve them is entirely up to you.


There are several different ways to preserve your fall leaves the best that I have found so far is the old fashion ironing them between two sheets of wax paper. It’s easy, it’s fast, it makes very little mess and it’s inexpensive to do. You will need a roll of wax paper, an iron, and an old rag or towel, and a pair of scissors, that’s it.

After you have picked out the leaves that you like best, put them to the side. Roll out a piece of wax paper about 2 feet long and turn the wax side up. Place your leaves on the wax paper making sure that they are at least 1 inch apart and one inch from the edge of the paper. Roll off another 2 foot piece of wax paper and place it wax side down on top of the leaves.

Heat up the iron to medium heat and place the rag or towel on top of the wax paper. When the iron is heated to medium heat use it to iron over the rag until the wax has melted over and around the leaves. Allow the leaves to cool and cut out each leaf with a pair of scissors.

Microwave Oven

These are the days of microwave ovens and cell phones of course you can’t dry foliage with a cell phone, but you can use your microwave. When you pick your leaves to preserve in the microwave you will need the brighter fresher leaves verses the already fallen dryer leaves.

Place your leaves or twigs in the microwave on top of a paper towel in a single layer and cover with another paper towel. Set the microwave on half the heat, set the microwave on 1 minute to start and repeat until the leaves are completely dry, being very careful not to burn them. If the leaves begin to curl up after they have been removed they are not dry enough and should be heated longer.

Remove all the leaves from the microwave and let them dry for an additional 2 days, after they are completely dry you can spray them with an acrylic sealant.

Microwave Oven And Floral Silica Gel

Another great way to use your microwave to preserve your fall leaves is with Floral Silica Gel which is a drying agent that florist often use to dry flowers. You will need a flat cardboard box that is small enough to put in your microwave. Put a layer of about 1 ¼ inch of the Floral Silica Gel beads in the bottom of the box and place a single layer of fall leaves on top of that making sure to keep the leaves away from the edges of the box, cover the leaves with 1 ¼ inch of the Floral Silica Gel. Place the box in the microwave and cook uncovered on the automatic defrost setting for between 2 and 3 minutes or according to the directions on the Floral Silica Gel package.



Another good way to preserve your fall foliage is to dip them in a mixture of glycerin and water. A very simple solution mix one part glycerin and two parts water in a casserole dish or some other flat pan. Place the leaves in a single layer and make certain that they are totally submerged in the solution. Leave them to soak for at least 2 days, and no more than 6 days. Carefully remove the leaves and wipe off the excess solution with a soft cloth.

Preserving your fall leaves like this works very well when you are using them as table setting and door wreaths.

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