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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. 

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.

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.

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.)

The ratio is 1 part Borax to 2 parts cornmeal. The amount you would use depends on the size of your box and the number of flowers you want to dry.

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?

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Lorraine Jeskey

Thursday 4th of November 2021

This method sounds great, I would like my flowers not flattened . Do you use equal parts of borax and cornmeal? Thank you for the great instructions. Much appreciated.

Carol Speake

Friday 5th of November 2021

Hi Lorraine. Use twice as much Borax as cornmeal. The actual amount depends on the size of your box and height of your flowers.


Saturday 22nd of June 2019

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


Saturday 22nd of June 2019

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


Saturday 2nd of March 2019

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


Saturday 2nd of March 2019

Hi Kristen. Mine kept their color well.

Amy Miller

Thursday 24th of January 2019

Does it matter if it's yellow cornmeal?


Thursday 24th of January 2019

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


Monday 21st of January 2019

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


Tuesday 22nd of January 2019

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

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