Plant pressings are a fun and creative way to learn about local plants and wildflowers. These plant presses are easy for kids to make and even easier to use. All that’s required to preserve the memories from your nature walks are some inexpensive materials, imagination, and time.
You will need:
- Two pieces of wood, plywood, or old hardcover book covers. Think about using a size that will fit into your backpack! We used the front and back covers of recycled hardcover books from the library. Our covers were a great size and had unusual colors. Contact your local library to see if they have any book covers left over from when they recycled old books.
- Five to ten pieces of corrugated cardboard, cut to the same size as your two press covers.
- Newspaper cut to the same size as your cardboard pieces. This newspaper will be used as the blotter paper between cardboard layers.
- Tie-down straps—anything that will hold the layers under pressure is adequate. Suggestions include nylon webbing, old cam straps or other buckled tie-downs, and large rubber bands.
Building your plant press
- Assemble your plant press, starting with one piece of wood or book cover on the bottom, then one piece of cardboard, then two pieces of newspaper, another piece of cardboard, more newspaper, more cardboard, and more newspaper. Finally, your other piece of wood goes on top. Start with three to five newspaper press spaces; you can always add more if needed.
- Once all the pieces are assembled, place your two straps or heavy-duty rubber bands around the press. The tighter your plant press straps the better!
- Be sure to decorate your plant press cover with paint, markers, or stickers.
Filling your plant press
- Use scissors or a small camp knife to snip flowers, leaves, or entire plants. Carefully place each plant specimen between two dry newspaper layers separated by cardboard and keep the cardboard-newspaper-specimen-newspaper-cardboard layering system. Don’t place more than one layer of plant in each section. Check them to be sure your plants are dry after a couple of days. If they are not yet dry, leave them for another couple of days.
- Drying time will vary depending on the temperature, humidity, and type of plant. Once they are dry, be careful not to rip flowers if they are stuck to the newspaper. Extra-delicate flowers can be placed between two pieces of parchment or wax paper, and then between the newspaper layers, to prevent sticking. Completely dry flowers will be stiff, papery, and delicate.
Crafts with Pressed Plants
- Enjoy your beautiful keepsakes or share them as gifts. Pressed flowers and leaves can be used to enhance writing paper, greeting cards, and bookmarks; to decorate gift tags; to embellish photo albums; or to mount in a glass frame.
- Mount your pressed plants on heavy paper, using white craft glue thinned with water. Use contact paper to seal smaller mountings like bookmarks and gift tags.
- Kids can place the pressed specimens in their own plant collection book by slipping them into clear sleeves in a binder. If mounting plants on paper to display and educate, be sure to label them with the collection information.
Tips for Plant Collecting
- Specimens should be smaller than the size of your press, so they can fit inside the newspaper layers.
- It’s best to collect plants for pressing when they are dry and free of dew or raindrops.
- Place plants in your plant press as soon as possible. They can wilt if not pressed quickly.
- Never collect or disturb any plant species that may be endangered or protected. Learn your state laws by contacting your local natural-resources agency.
- Don’t pick a plant unless you can see at least six others of the same species in the area.
Brigid Sinram grew up on the north shore of Long Island, where her love of nature was born. She is now the Environmental Programs Manager for GrandTarghee Resort. When she’s not outside working, she’s outside playing—skiing, biking, floating rivers, or admiring birds.