Workshop on how to preserve flowers
Flowers are the most delicate and beautiful creations of nature. They add color, beauty, cheer & fragrance to life. They never fail to bring a smile to our faces. Since time immemorial flowers are being gifted to each other to express love, gratitude & other emotions. But these flowers wilt after some time while the gesture & the emotions connected with it stay in our hearts for a lifetime. What if you can preserve flowers in that state and cherish those beautiful moments for a lifetime with proper care from heat, dust, humidity, pest, etc.
Is it even possible?? YES, we can prolong their shelf life and protect them from drying up or wilting and enjoy its beauty and texture for many years.
Watch our Workshop on “HOW TO PRESERVE FLOWERS” which took place on 6th November with Dr. Mahalakshmi V Reddy who will be enlightening us with this amazing technology. A retired Professor & Ex Associate Dean of Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agriculture University, who served 36 years as an academician, administrator, and Scientist. As a scientist, Flower preservation was one of her contributions to the Nation. Her focus was to develop an advanced methodology for preserving natural flowers as long-lasting flowers by value addition using freeze-drying technology. Don’t forget to visit her Facebook page Lyo Florals and have a sneak peek at the beautiful flowers preserved by her.
Freeze-Drying Technology for preserving flowers
“A very warm welcome to all of you. Welcome to another workshop from The Affordable Organic Store. Today, we have a very special guest with us, Dr. Mahalakshmi ma’am. She is our college professor and I’m honored to welcome you to our platform. Thank you for joining us, ma’am. I would like to give you a brief workshop about the things that we are going to do in this workshop today, said Zehra”
So, after retiring from her college service, Mahalakshmi ma’am is doing a research program on ‘Ways to preserve flowers’. She has even received a patent in an advanced technique to preserve flowers. She is the founder of ‘Lyo Florals’ where flowers are preserved using freeze-drying technology. In today’s workshop, we will be learning more about freeze-drying techniques and simple home remedies for preserving our home flowers. So, now I would like to hand over the workshop to you. Everybody stay tuned for the session. I hope everyone likes the session.
A glimpse of Dr. Mahalakshmi Reddy
A beautiful presentation on preserving flowers
“Good evening everyone. It is my pleasure to be with all of you. For me, it is 4 pm in the evening which is a perfect time for me to talk with all the flower lovers. I have completed my five years of entrepreneurial skills in Lyo florals, So, to celebrate it, my staff gave me a bouquet as a small sign of gesture. When Zehra contacted me regarding this workshop, I found it as a great opportunity to share my flowering knowledge with all the viewers. So, I am Dr. Mahalakshmi Reddy, retired as a professor and the head of the department from College Of Home Science. Before my retirement, I had developed a technology with the government of India funds and established technology for preserving flowers. The thing that I came to know was the technology that I am specializing in is the best one. This technology is known as freeze-drying technology. In my 20 years of detailed study about this technology, ordinary home-makers or very few resources that can be of great use for protecting the flowers were studied by me. Flowers are a very beautiful and precious commodity to enjoy. I have a presentation in which I have narrated about my studies in short. So, I shall share the ppt with everyone. ”
The depicted flowers in the ppt may look natural but they are processed. These flowers have evolved with the technology in which I have professionalized. There are other similar technologies available too that can avail us with good quality of flowers. The contents that will be covered in this presentation are the importance of preserving flowers, the changes happening in the current trend because everybody wants to see flowers in their interior as these flowers add emotions to the people surrounding them. Everyone expects the flowers to be natural, as these flowers will then go back into nature, the way they came back into existence. The characteristics of flowers are so beautiful that they are so beautiful at the time they bloom up. A single flower of Rose blooms for 5 to 6 days, Jasmine blooms up for a day and orchids bloom for a month. After this, the flowers wilt off. It feels that these should last longer to prolong their life, to preserve the natural beauty of flowers, to carry all the emotions. Flowers come in so many textures, colors, shines, shades. This makes us smile at any time of the day by looking at the flowers. Not only the flowers but also the buds, twigs, foliages, pods also provide us happiness. Anything that we create close to nature provides us with a lot of happiness. Cut flowers can be used as it is. They may be used directly in ceremonies, festivals. The petals also can be further processed or can be made edible also. Hydrating the flowers can increase their life. That is, keeping the flowers in the hydrating solution so that the flowers retain their freshness. Preservation through freeze-drying is the best. Air drying, sun drying can help to preserve short-term life for the flowers.
What parts of plants can be preserved?
- Flowers like roses, tulips, carnations, and lilies.
- Straws, grasses, and pods can also be preserved.
- Leafy greens, branches, and twigs can also be preserved.
The background that you are using, the materials used, the types of flowers used, all are part and parcel of preservation.
Advantages of Dried flowers
Fresh flowers always look beautiful and fresh as compared to dried flowers. But, dried flowers have an added advantage. These flowers have long-lasting life and beauty. These flowers can withstand heat, cold and harsh atmospheric conditions. The shape, pigments, and cell structure can be retained with the help of these flowers.
Pre-requisites for drying flowers
- The place from where the flowers are going to be obtained. These flowers can be from a bouquet, shop, or garden.
- The flowers must be cut when they are fresh or partially mature.
- The flowers must be free from moisture. So, mornings are not ideal for cutting flowers because flowers retain moisture in the mornings.
- Cut the flowers with the stem as long as possible, so that the flowers retain their freshness for longer periods.
- Use sharp knives for cutting the flowers and the stems.
- Keep care of the flowers to stop them from wilting.
- Remove the unnecessary parts and ensure to clean the parts thoroughly.
- Always check for any pests or mealybugs. Sometimes, insects have already laid eggs on the plants. So, take care of the flowers.
- Some flowers should be provided for giving them strength if the original stem is weak.
Ways of drying the flowers
There are various techniques implied for drying:
- Air drying: keeping the plants in an environment that is well ventilated. Tie the plant with a rope and hang them upside-down so that the petals retain their form. Do not use any harsh chemicals. There is a change in the color of the flowers due to drying.
- Natural drying: Plants are allowed to dry on their own.
- Sun-drying: Keeping the plants dry in the sun. Plants lose their moisture but retain their form in drying.
- Desiccant drying: These drying agents that are silica gel, sand, cornmeal, and borax mixtures are used for preserving flowers. Silica gel can be used alone but the rest can be combined for preservation. Silica gel is best. We need to place the plant in the right place in a container for desiccant to be placed properly with the plant for retaining moisture.
Process of preservation with silica gel
- Place the flowers in a tray.
- Place a layer of silica sand underneath the flowers.
- Place a layer above the flowers that will be of sand or silica gel.
- Press drying: The materials must be warmed up and kept under a pressure.
- Microwave drying: Plants must be dries for 24 hours under low temperatures.
- Glycerine drying: It is a natural product obtained from fats and oils. Glycerine is ideal for foliage preparations. Add one part of glycerine with two parts of water.
- Hot air oven drying: fast drying is possible with this technique. The drying time differs from flower to flower.
- Freeze drying: we need a floral freeze dryer. Floral freeze dryer has temperature variations of -30 degrees celsius to 60 degrees celsius. Fresh flowers are supposed to be kept in a freezer for drying. It may take about 8 to 9 days. It is expensive but this technology is the best of all the processes.
New technologies are cropping up like Glycernation technologies. In this technology, external chemical substances are replaced.
Resin coating or lamination can also be used. Silicone molds and hardeners are used for the resins to set. They may be used as paperweights or decorations. Do not use them in excess as they harm the environment.
Uses of dried flowers
“Thank you, ma’am. That was amazing! , exclaimed Zehra”
I have kept six rose flowers in a vase. Three of these flowers are well hydrated and three of them are not hydrated at all. So, the roses that aren’t hydrated start drooping.
“I have researched a lot on this hydration process, said Dr. Reddy“
I have chrysanthemums preserved by freeze-drying.
Solving the doubts of Viewers
- “How long does the flower stay fresh in this hydration procedure?, asked Zehra”
Every three days, you have to provide new hydration. Take good care of the flowers. Cut the branches at an angle of 45 degrees.
The next one is the baby’s breath. Hair spray is used to preserve these flowers.
Any mild hair spray can be used.
- “Do we have to hang these plants in a particular place?”
There should be proper ventilation but away from the sunlight, in a dark place. Keep it away from direct sunlight.
I have a sample preserved in silica gel as well. I haven’t opened it yet. I want to show my audience. It is being preserved for five days. I have preserved rose flowers in it. The flowers are dries and they are brittle.
“The flowers look fresh and delicate. The flowers look like they are freshly plucked from the plants, added Zehra.”
Now, I am going to show you how to preserve the plants in silica gel.
Take the flower along with the stem.
Cut at 45 degrees just below the flower.
Place this flower in the silica gel that is kept in a container. Place the flower firmly inside the container. Half of the material must go inside the sand.
- “Why do we need to cut the stems?”
Our main motive is to conserve the petals and not the stem.
- “Can we use the same silica gel again?”
If the silica gel hasn’t changed color, then we can use the same silica gel. If the silica gel turns pink, then we have to evaporate it and then use it again.
Now, bury the flowers completely inside this sand or silica gel.
- “So, ma’am we have to give them ample space in the container and no two flowers should touch each other?”
Yes, exactly. The flowers must not touch each other and must be kept at a distance because moisture in one part can affect the other part if they are in contact.
The flowers can also be preserved in a box.
Thank you so much for the efforts, ma’am.
- “How are all the flowers present behind you preserved?”
The flowers are preserved using freeze-drying.
“These flowers will stay forever in these glass containers?”
I have anthuriums that are freeze-dried.
- “Are they put into air-tight containers after freeze-drying?”
Yes. The plants should have the right container, air seal, proper conditions after freeze-drying.
The precise care to be taken while freeze-drying is that the flowers should not get infected with insects or all the insects must be sprayed off.
- “What is the cost of preserving one flower by freeze-drying?”
Flowers like red ginger may cost up to 400 rupees. Generally, it costs 200 to 300 rupees for flowers to be preserved.
- “Can this method be used for other parts too?”
No, this machine is suitable for only flowers as the minimum temperature possible is -30 degrees. Usually, fruits and food cannot be preserved as they require temperatures of -465 to -50 degrees celsius.
- “Can a five-year-old flower have the same softness using this technique?”
You won’t be able to feel any softness at all because the flower has lost all the softness after freeze-drying. The flower becomes brittle.
- “What method is best for preserving flowers?”
Oven drying using silica gel is the best method.
- “Where can we get this silica gel?”
Online e-commerce websites are the best for silica gel.
“It was a lovely session, ma’am. We just keep the flowers and then discard them afterward. It hurts to part away from these wonderful flowers. But, now we know the way to preserve flowers, added Zehra.”
There was an actress who had been given a flower which she wanted to preserve. So, I had preserved that flower for her using this technique.
These flowers carry a lot of emotions and feelings along with them. So, safeguarding them gives immense pleasure.
Thank you Dr.Reddy for your time!
It’s the best job to work with the most beautiful things of nature and preserve them. It’s a lovely job. Everybody should do a part about their passion. With all the flowers around you, every day is a lovely day. We learned and enjoyed it a lot. It was a wonderful experience for me. If anyone has any queries or anyone has to send their flowers to Dr. Reddy ma’am, you can always contact her. Festive flowers can also be obtained for her. Whatsapp, Facebook can be used for reaching Reddy ma’am.
Thank you so much ma’am for giving your time. It was a very good workshop.