Useful Tips

Herbarium of leaves - how to dry leaves for a herbarium


Herbarium is a dried plant that has retained its attractiveness. It is not only flat, but also voluminous. It all depends on the drying method. Some require a herbarium solely as a home school assignment for children. Others create whole panels and paintings with dried flowers. For most, the fundamental choice of technology is the drying rate of plants.

How to collect leaves for drying

You can collect both fallen leaves and one that has not yet completed its growth. A sharp knife or scissors is useful for this. The collection is made on a dry sunny day, after the dew.

Collected wet leaves after drying may become brown spots. This rule does not apply to the collection of mosses and lichens. They should be collected just after the rain.

When collecting fallen leaves, be sure to pay attention to the following points:

  • leaves must be fresh, recently fallen from a tree,
  • the leaf should be flat, not curled from old age,
  • in appearance the plant should be clean, without damage and traces of rot,
  • petioles of leaves should be fresh and not twisted.

After collection, you must immediately proceed to drying.

Natural way of drying

If the collected foliage will be used to make garlands and other crafts involving a three-dimensional appearance of the plant, then it can be dried on a sheet of paper. To do this, the leaves are laid out in one layer on parchment, and left in a dry, dark place. After a few days, the leaves will begin to dry and curl, taking on elegant forms. With this drying method, the color of the foliage will change. It will become dull and faded, but this situation can be easily corrected with a spray can with shiny paint.

Drying plants in a book is the easiest and most familiar way. To do this, the leaves are placed between the pages of the book, not lapped. The book is closed, and a load is placed on top of it. To protect the surface of the pages from moisture released by the leaves, additional sheets of perforated paper or paper towels are inserted between them.

Under the press

This method is considered professional, as it involves the use of a special device - a press for drying plants. The use of this equipment allows you to maximize the preservation of the structure of the plant, its shape and texture.

A plant press is a rather expensive pleasure, so you can look for alternatives to dry the leaves at home. For example, a press made of books and sheets of paper is suitable. Plants are laid out in one layer on a sheet of parchment, and on top they cover with another sheet. For these purposes you can use ordinary old newspapers. Now on the blank you need to put a load, for example, books.

Plants will dry under such a press for 2 to 3 weeks.

With iron

This can be said an express method. It allows you to dry leaves in record time, while maintaining their natural color.

The collected leaves are laid out on paper, trying to arrange them so that they do not touch each other. Cover with another layer of paper on top and begin to iron the plants on medium power iron. The drying procedure lasts only a few minutes. It is very important to turn off the steamer function before ironing!

The disadvantage of this method is that the leaves dried with an iron become thin and brittle, which does not allow them to be stored for a long time.

Galina Bee in her video will talk about how to dry leaves instantly

To keep the herbarium as long as possible, the foliage can be “sealed” in wax. For this method, in addition to the iron, you also need waxed paper. In order not to stain the wax board, first lay a sheet of plain paper. Then a waxed sheet is laid on it, and already plants that need to be dried are already on it. From above, the sequence of layers is preserved: waxed paper is laid on the foliage, and ordinary paper on it. Instead of sheets of paper, you can use a soft cloth that also conducts heat well.

To iron this "sandwich" you need at maximum power for 3 to 5 minutes. In order for the wax to stick to the plant evenly, the structure must be turned over and ironed on both sides. After the wax paper sticks tightly together with honey, the iron can be turned off. The cooled sheets of paper are carefully cut along the contour of the plant, leaving a few millimeters from the edge. Then the paper is removed, and the dried sheet is laminated in a thin layer of wax.

Marina Khvaleva in her video will talk about how to properly prepare dried flowers and dry herbarium in different ways

How to store dried leaves

The herbarium leaf storage room should be dark and dry. In this case, the storage temperature does not matter. The air in apartments in the winter is often overdried, which can adversely affect the collected material, so a glazed balcony or loggia can be a great place to store.

The best storage containers are spacious cardboard boxes that do not allow billets to break and protect them from sunlight.

Press drying

The least simple way to obtain a herbarium, which is also called cold drying. Leaves with flowers are laid between the leaves of the book or paper towels. Stack the press on top. The book is used when they want to get a herbarium from small plants and in small quantities. In other cases, it is advisable to take a paper towel.

Workpieces are ready for use in a week. When using paper towels, they change daily. Often, if you overexpose the flowers under the press, they become too fragile. To correct the situation allows a solution prepared from PVA and water, taken in proportions of 1: 4.
Flowers and leaves for fakes and garlands can be dried without using the press. They can simply be laid out on paper, and then neatly spread out. If you plan to use the herbarium to create beautiful panels or paintings, a press is already required here. It is better to use a special one, which can be bought at a needlework store or made independently.

Hot drying

It is an express method of obtaining herbarium. The very next day, the dried plants are ready. This option is best suited for cornflowers. Other types of flowers may turn pale, losing their attractive color.

Hot drying is not only fast, but also simple. Flowers with leaves are laid out on paper. Cover with another leaf on top and iron it until the plant loses all moisture, that is, the steam stops flowing.
Large inflorescences, in the petals of which contain a lot of moisture, can be dried in a microwave or oven. The temperature should not be high. It is necessary to carefully monitor the entire process and prevent the petals from turning brown.

Alternative dryer drying

A microwave and oven are not the best way to produce a herbarium. In addition, you have to periodically monitor the safety of the petals. The advantage of the hair dryer is that the flowers do not darken. Most parents, preparing a child’s herbarium for school, dry the plant with this appliance.
The most ordinary hair dryer will do without any frills. The main thing is that you can adjust the flow rate of hot air. If you turn on the device at full power, the leaves can quickly curl. To make the herbarium good, they give the plant “rest” from time to time, and then it is again dried with a hairdryer.

Natural drying

It is very popular among summer residents and owners of country houses with their own personal plot. Plants can not only be suspended by the stems, but also simply laid out. It is best to lay the future herbarium on rice napkins, blotting paper or cardboard.
Covering plants is not recommended. Do not lay flowers under the scorching sun. It is enough to choose a damp place where enough natural light penetrates. The natural drying process takes from two to three weeks and allows you to harvest many colors at once.

Drying in water

Some flowering plants quickly fade. They do not have time to dry before withering. These include hydrangea, almost all bulbous, completely unblown cloves, lavender and so on. To obtain a herbarium from such plants, it is necessary to use combined drying - water “plus” air.
Some water is collected in a vase. Four to five centimeters is enough. There should be a diagonal cut on the stem. A plant is placed in the container, which will dry as the liquid evaporates. When the buds wither, the plants are removed. So that mold does not start to appear, the ends of the stems are cut. The plant is dried on cardboard, paper, napkin.

Hot-drying plants (express drying)

Hot drying, that is, drying with an iron, is ideal when you need to dry leaves for a herbarium for tomorrow. Also, hot drying can preserve the original color of cornflowers.

Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth or cotton pad to remove dirt and dust. Too much water and rubbing is not necessary so as not to damage the fragile surface.

Cover the ironing board with clean paper and lay the leaves on it.

If you use newspapers - be careful, as the printing ink can be printed both on the leaves and on the surface of the ironing board.

Cover with another sheet of paper.

Switch the iron to the minimum temperature and check that there is no water in it. If your iron does not have a very high power, then you can set the temperature closer to average, but not at all, because an too hot iron will ruin the leaves.

Iron the leaves a few times, then remove the paper and turn them over to the other side. Cover again with paper and iron.

Repeat the procedure until the leaves are completely dry.

Next, carefully transfer them to a book or box so that they are not damaged.

Drying flowers with bulk materials or volumetric

There are many good moisture absorbing substances. They are ideal for creating herbarium and flowers. Bulk materials allow you to preserve the beauty of the petals. The most popular substances are silica gel, perlite, and storm. An alternative may be absorbent cotton. When dried in bulk solids, petals do not wrinkle and acquire a saturated color.


Flowers cut on a sunny day. If there is too much rain, drying will be delayed. Therefore, it is recommended to plan harvesting of the herbarium exclusively in the dry period, until the rains begin. The best time is noon or a little later, when the dew already has time to evaporate.
Flowering plants are cut along with the stem. Most of the latter is cut off, leaving quite a bit. Carefully thread a thin wire inside. The end of the wire is wrapped in a ring. This method allows you to calmly connect the flower with the stem, which is dried separately.

Drying technique

The selected material is poured into a deep cup. You can take any cardboard box. Perlite, silica gel or a storm is poured with a layer of one to two centimeters. The flower is laid on top so that the bottom small piece of the stem is below. Petals gently pour over. It is necessary to ensure that they are separated from each other, and the substance penetrates deep inside.
On a note! Bulk material can be used repeatedly. The main thing is to leave it in an open container, for example, to dry on a windowsill.
When the flower is completely covered, the container is tightly closed. She should stand in a dry place from three to five days. The larger the inflorescences, the longer they dry. The dried flower is removed from the box with tweezers. The powder remaining on the petals is shaken off or blown off with a rubber bulb. The flower is connected to the stem.

River sand

It perfectly absorbs excess moisture and dries, but has one drawback. It consists in the fact that drying takes from two to three weeks. In addition, sand cannot be used immediately. It is first sieved and calcined over a fire. The advantage is the availability of the material and the absence of the need to pay for the substance.
As a container, it is best to take a container with an opening bottom. This allows you to quickly get rid of sand. If dried zinnias, calendula, gerbera, flowers are laid down face down. The rest, on the contrary, put inflorescences on top. Otherwise, there is no difference between the previous method.

Drying flowers in the oven

Single large flowers, whose petals are rich in liquid, such as roses or tulips, can be dried in the oven at a low temperature.

Watch the process carefully: the flowers should not turn brown.

Before you get started, cover the table with oilcloth so as not to stain it with glue. Prepare the base - a sheet of cardboard, collected or dried leaves, scissors, glue (preferably PVA), tweezers.

First you need come up with a future picture . Then arrange it on a separate sheet. And only then begin to stick the individual parts of the leaves to the base. Glue is best applied in droplets around the edges. If you apply glue to the entire surface of the sheet, then when drying the application, it can warp.

You need a finished picture put under the press for one to two days. Do not forget to do it for her frame!

Desiccant Selection

There are several popular desiccants - substances that quickly absorb moisture. Each has its own characteristics:

  • Borax, corn and white flour. Differ in low cost. The drying time in desiccant is 8-18 days.
  • Semolina. More suitable for small and medium flowers. Large petals can decay. The medium-sized inflorescences are perfectly preserved and keep their shape.
  • Silica gel. Allows to dry small colors in 2-4, and large ones in 6-7 days. It can be used repeatedly. The downside is the cost. For five liters you will have to pay 150-300 rubles. Before use, be sure to calcine in the oven at 100 degrees for about 2-3 hours.
  • Salt. It absorbs moisture well and has a low cost. It is often used to dry herbarium, but will have to wait about a month until the flowers dry. It is best to take fine salt, which is able to penetrate deeply into the petals.

If the drying speed of the herbarium is of paramount importance, it is best to use silica gel.

Absorbent cotton - an alternative to bulk solids

Petals of flowers are perfectly preserved when dried with absorbent cotton. Pieces of this material are laid between the petals. They must be separated from each other. Cotton wool must be laid carefully. Otherwise, you can damage the flower and the petals will begin to crumble.
Flowers are suspended by the stems. Unlike creating a flower herbarium using bulk materials, you need to cut the plant completely. Separate inflorescences from stems is not required. Flower heads dry for about 5-6 days. They remove the plants a little later, when the stems dry completely.

Laid on application.

Try to start by inventing pictures that do not require any details to be cut out from the leaves, but created using leaf overlay. You can think of a lot of such pictures: butterflies, mushrooms, chickens and other birds ... The missing elements can be drawn with a felt-tip pen or made from other natural materials.

Having caught up in simple pictures, children can begin to come up with multi-tiered images. In this technique, leaflets are glued to each other in layers. The application will turn out bright and cheerful if the leaves are different in color.

Symmetrical applique.

It is used to create separate images or whole pictures having a symmetrical structure, as well as to obtain two completely identical images (for example, reflection in water). To do this, you need to select similar leaflets to get an image with its “reflection” or symmetrical in itself (“Butterfly”, “Dragonfly”, “Landscape with a lake”, “Boat on the river”).