By The Old House Web


The use of glycerin in drying is successful with most FOLIAGES, but cannot be used successfully with flowers. Only perfect specimens should be selected, following selection. the leaves or branches should be washed in water to remove all dust and dirt. Then, the lower inch of stem should be cut off, in order to remove the air bubble which prevents the easy flow of liquid. The stems should then be placed upright in a can or jar of glycerin solutions, using one part glycerin and two parts water. Some heavy leaves (ex: magnolia) require a half-and-half mix. The materials should remain in the solution until full absorption has taken place. The leaves will change color with absorbtion; when the color is the same all the way to the edge, the leaf has absorbed all the liquid possible. This process usually takes two to three weeks.

Some low-growing plants absorb moisture through their leaves: these plants should be submerged completely in a half-and-half solution. Examples of low growing plants are: galax, lily-of-the-valley, ivy foliages. Good AIR CIRCULATION is necessary when using this method, and its use is recommended highly during hot weather, as the foliage will absorb the solution quickly. To determine absorbtion, the leaves should be wiped occasionally with a dry cloth dampened in the solution. This helps check drying before the glycerin has reached the leaf edge.

Glycerin changes the colors of some leaves more than others--depending on the variety, the stage of maturity, and the length of time left in solution. For example, Barberry gathered in early spring will turn a bright red, in the fall, it will turn brown. If gathered early, beech, crab-apple, plum and forsythia will retain their natural color. With some leaves (e.g. flowering plum), a few drops of red cake coloring added to the solution will result in a glossy, red color.

If the leaves get droopy, they have been left in the solution too long. For restoration, the leaves should be wiped off, a string tied around the leaf stem, and the leaf then hung upside down. Before being stored in boxes, the leaves should be wiped thoroughly with a soft cloth to remove excess moisture. The boxes should be labeled and checked frequently to be sure no "leakage" occurs from the leaves, causing mold.

Leaves which take the glycerin solution well are:

Aspidistra Galax Plum Barberry Geranium Poplar (alba) Beech Huckleberry Privet Bergenia Iris Oregon Holly Grape Birch Ivy Rose Canna Lily-of-the-Valley Russian Olive Coral-Bells Magnolia Ti leaves (TEE) Forsythia Peach Yucca

SOURCE: "Gathering, Drying and Processing Techniques for Flowers", HM-83. By Mrs. William Ullenbruch. Reprinted from Extension Bulletin 410.

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