How to Preserve Flowers with Borax

If you love the look of dried flowers in your home, don’t buy them.  It is easy to preserve flowers yourself with two common household ingredients:  Borax and Cornmeal. Borax and cornmeal can be mixed together and then sprinkled to preserve flowers. It's easy to do...all you need is a box and a bit of patience.

One of the true joys of gardening is having so many flowers in my garden. I sometimes cut them to bring indoors, and also like to dry them for flower arrangements and other crafts.

Dried flowers can be used in all sorts of ways in craft and decor projects.  Getting them dry and keeping the color gives you the best looking results. This method of drying flowers does just that. Preserving flowers with Borax

Borax has dozen of uses in the home.  It is great for laundry and cleaning, of course, but can also be used in many other ways. I’ve even tested Borax as an ant killer with great success!

The 20 Mule Team product makes a great weed killer for Creeping Charlie, too. But for today’s purposes, I will be using it to preserve flowers.

Remember placing a flower from a prom date or other special occasion in a closed book to dry it?  The only problem with this is that the flower gets flattened.Pressing roses in a book

Instead of this, we will use Borax to preserve flowers, so that they can be used later for making craft projects, door wreaths, or just displaying in the home.

It's easy to preserve flowers with Borax & Cornmeal. Find out how! I ♥ Flowers! Click To Tweet

It’s time to preserve flowers with Borax!

Borax and corn meal can be used to dry flowers

To do this project you’ll need these things:

  • 1 part Borax
  • 2 parts ground cornmeal
  • a large shoe box
  • some cut flowers
  • tissue paper

How does this work?

Have you ever found those little packets of silica gel in boxes? They keep moisture out of whatever they are packed with. Borax acts in a similar way.  

It acts as a desiccant, slowing removing the moisture from the petals of flowers but allowing them to retain their natural shape and color.

Flowers and plants with thin petals work best.  Some good choices are:Thin petaled flowers work best for drying with Borax

Prepare the Flowers.

Before you try to preserve flowers with Borax, you will need to get them ready.  Trim off the leaves and cut the stem to the length that you want. (It will need to fit into the box.)

You can also preserve only the heads of flowers, in which case you would cut the stem just below the flower head. (great for pot pourri!)trim your flowersTIP:  The fresher the flower is, the better it will preserve, so cut them from your garden just before you start.  Cut dry plants.

Wet plants after a rain are harder to handle and will easily be damaged.  Place the flowers in plastic bags in a shady spot, not in water.

If you use flowers from a florist, give them a fresh cut and allow them to soak in water for 20 minutes or so and then put them into bags. This will help to remove any preservatives the florist may have added.

There are a few ways to preserve flowers with Borax.

There are several ways to preserve flowers with Borax. You can lay them sideways in the box, or place the faces of the flowers into the mixture.

You can Iayer newspaper in the box and poke holes in the bottom of it and insert just the flower heads with the stems hanging below.

I placed some on mine sideways i the box and others had just the flower heads facing up. I’ll use those for potpourri and crafts.How to preserve flowers with Borax

The Borax and cornmeal is placed in a layer on the bottom of the box over newspaper. Once the flowers are placed in the box, sprinkle the Borax/cornmeal mixture over the flowers. Be sure the flower heads are completely but only lightly covered.

Keep adding the mixture until they are all covered.  My illustration shows some of the flowers only partly covered.

(I wanted to test to see exactly how much Borax was needed to dry them well, and what happened if they had less mixture over them.)

For the last step, add a layer of tissue paper, close the box with a lid or cover and be patient. Check in about a week to see how they are doing.

Now you wait!

The flowers can take from 1-3 weeks to dry.  To test them, gently pinch a petal.  If the petal still feels cool to the touch and moist, it needs more drying time.

If it feels dry, also test to see how dry the calyx is (the leafy part of the back of the flowers.) If this is dry, you will know that the procedure is finished. flowers preserved with Borax

The smaller the flower, the quicker the drying time will be.  Tightly petaled flowers, like rose buds can take quite a bit longer to dry. I had best luck with the roses but the colors of the others was preserved well too.Dried Rose petals

Once the flowers have completely dried, carefully remove them from the mixture.  Gently brush away, or blow away the mixture that still clings to the petals.  

The flowers can be used in some many ways for home decorations. I especially love to use them in my centerpiece box for my dining room table as well as for door wreaths.Wreath with dried flowers.

The left over Borax mixture can be reused at another time.  If it is still damp, place it on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheets and place in in a 150º F oven for 30 minutes to dry.  

Place in an air tight container until you are ready to use in future. (see more uses for parchment paper here.)

Have you ever tried to dry flowers? How did your project go?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  19 comments for “How to Preserve Flowers with Borax

  1. Jill
    02/25/2018 at 5:23 am

    Can it do without cornmeal? Can I use ground rice?

    • Carol
      02/25/2018 at 10:28 am

      Hi Jill. I have not tried this anyway other than with cornmeal so I don’t know how it will work. Carol

  2. Dale Rekus
    04/28/2018 at 10:39 pm

    Jill, I understand you can substitute oatmeal for the cornmeal. Have not seen any reference to ground rice.
    I have a question about drying out the mixture in the oven. My electric oven only goes as low as 170 degrees F. How long would I dry it at that temperature?
    Thank you for a good article,

    • Carol
      04/29/2018 at 9:55 am

      I don’t think the 20 degrees would matter than much but try it for 20 minutes instead of 20 just to be sure. This is only needed if there is extra moisture in the Borax after drying the flowers. Carol

  3. Jrose
    06/28/2018 at 9:02 am

    How long would the preserved flowers will last??

    • Carol
      06/28/2018 at 11:00 am

      Hi, It is hard to say exactly how long they will last, since it depends on how they are stored and used. I had some dried hydrangea flowers that I had in a vase and they lasted for a year before I replaced them with something else. As potpourri, they might last indefinitely. Once dried, there is no moisture to rot them. Carol

  4. Jenny Lin
    07/24/2018 at 3:59 am

    Thanks for sharing. Have never tried this method before. I have tried using silica gel crystals before and my flowers are well dried within a couple of days. Might give this new method a try.

  5. Sarah Curtis
    10/05/2018 at 7:54 pm

    How come some of my flowers are growing mold???

    • Carol
      10/06/2018 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Sarah. That didn’t happen with any of mine. It either has to do with high humidity where you live, or flowers that have a higher water content (thicker leaves, etc) Could also happen if the flowers are really large, I think. Carol

  6. Jennifer B
    12/05/2018 at 3:23 pm

    I have used this method and it works rather well. I have flowers that still have the dust on them…I am affraid to try and blow it off. What would you suggest? I make jewelry and need to get as much off as possible.
    Thank you for your time.

    • Carol
      12/05/2018 at 4:36 pm

      Hi Jennifer. Once the flowers are dried they are pretty sturdy. A hair dryer or some compressed air should work. Carol

  7. Jasmine
    01/21/2019 at 8:50 pm

    How long would the flowers last if I put them in a shadow box??

    • Carol
      01/22/2019 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Jasmine. It’s hard to say exactly. But as long as the moisture is gone from the flowers they will last a really long time. Commercial dried flower arrangements last indefinitely. Home dried flowers are relative to how successful you are in removing the moisture. Carol

  8. Amy Miller
    01/24/2019 at 7:36 am

    Does it matter if it’s yellow cornmeal?

    • Carol
      01/24/2019 at 11:16 am

      Hi Amy, I think any type of cornmeal will do. The finer it is the better.

  9. Kristen
    03/02/2019 at 9:58 am

    Do the flowers hold their color as opposed to just air drying that usually turns brown

    • Carol
      03/02/2019 at 11:26 am

      Hi Kristen. Mine kept their color well.

  10. Angela
    06/22/2019 at 1:03 am

    How is the condition of the flower? Is it flaky or can it hold its shape well enough?

    • Carol
      06/22/2019 at 11:09 am

      they hold their shape reasonably well but is not exactly the same shape as a fresh flower.

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