Fall is around the corner. You will some beautiful red, orange, maroon and gold foliage. These colors are hard to find in any other season. Though, you can preserve fall leaves and make them last longer.
These colorful leaves serve as a unique decoration for mantles and centerpieces.
Once you have pressed and preserved them, you can start decorating your space with them as you wish.
This article highlights how you can preserve the leaves and when is the right time to gather them from your garden.
Keep reading below to know more!
When Should You Preserve Fall Leaves?
The best time to preserve the leaves is when they fall off immediately.
At the time when they just fall from the tree, they are neither dried up nor curled.
If you have planted trees in your garden, you may be already aware of the right time for the leaves to fall.
It varies according to the fall weather pattern and the tree species.
Hence, all leaves do not shed at the same time.
Thus, you need to be vigilant to pick up and preserve the leaves before they have started to dry down or curl up.
That said, you may not be preserving every leaf that has fallen.
Select a particular right type of leaf for your use.
This includes those that can be pressed and preserved well so that you can use them for decoration purposes.
You would want to use a leaf that does not contain any spots or is bumpy.
Moreover, leaves that are flat will be a better choice than those that are curled up.
It may have been a long time since they have fallen off, hence they may have curled and dried up.
Also, pick up leaves that are in different shades of changing colors.
For instance, there are leaves in shades of yellow and orange that have yet to turn maroon and red.
These leaves add variation to an otherwise single color decoration.
Once you have picked the right leaves, it is time to preserve them.
There are a few ways of doing it.
Let’s find out about this below!
Pressing and Preserving Fall Leaves
Using Book Pressing
The most common method you will find for preserving leaves is using books.
It is economical and easy.
All you have to do is use the material already present in your home to keep the leaves preserved for a while.
The material you will need for this method includes:
- Heavy Books
- Newspapers or Wax papers
- Petroleum jelly or fabric softener
This is a way to press the leaves with the needed weight.
However, it is not a method that will keep the leaves preserved for a long time.
Here you will need heavy books so that the leaf is pressed against its weight.
The leaves should also be thin, with low moisture content.
The first step is to prepare the leaves.
Though, this step is optional.
If you want the leaves to be more supple then coat them with petroleum jelly or soak them in diluted fabric softener before you press them.
The next step is to sandwich the leave sin between newspapers or wax papers.
Now place the wax papers with the leaves in the book. Close it and stack other heavy books on top to add weight.
The books should be in a dry place.
Check the progress after a week to ensure the leaves are not rotting instead of drying.
They will need to stay in the book for at least 2 weeks till the leaves completely dry down.
This is the simplest method to prepare the leaves.
However, it is not as long-lasting as preserving them.
There are other methods such as:
- heating in the microwave
- coating with glycerin
- using silica
- keeping in the wax papers
Let’s find out how to preserve the leaves using these methods.
Microwave and Glycerin Method
Using the Microwave
This method can dry up the leaves quickly.
However, you need to constantly monitor it as the leaves can catch fire.
What you will need:
- Microwave oven and dish
- Paper towel
- Acrylic sealant spray
While choosing the leaves go for those that are still relatively fresh and supple and not the ones that have dried down because fell some time ago.
The purpose of this microwave method is to dry them quickly so they should be fresh.
Now put the leaves in two paper towels.
Sandwich either individual leaves or a few leaves spread apart in between the paper towels.
Next, put these paper towels in a microwave dish.
Keep microwaving the leaves for 30 seconds on medium heat.
Use these short bursts to check if there is any overheating and the leaves are burnt.
If the leaves are not dried down yet, keep microwaving for 30 seconds while keeping a check for overheating.
After the leaves dry down, spray them with an acrylic sealant so that their color remains.
Soaking in Glycerin
Using glycerin is a long-lasting method to preserve the leaves.
It will keep the leaves flexible and supple that too for many years.
This is why the leaves treated with glycerin are used in several decorations such as wreaths, table accents and garlands.
For this, you will need:
- Shallow pan
Take a shallow pan and add one part of glycerin to two parts of water.
Next, place the leaves inside and weigh down the pan with another dish to completely submerge the leaves.
After two to three days, check the condition of the leaves, if it is pliable and soft, they can be dried.
If they still feel dry, let them remain inside.
Hang supple leaves to dry for 2-3 days.
Wax Paper Method for Preserving Fall Leaves
This simple way of preserving the leaves lasts for many months.
For this, you will need a few tools such as:
- Ironing board
- An iron
Moreover, you will also need wax paper, rags and fall leaves to press the leaves.
While choosing the leaves, go for those that are thin and contain minimum moisture.
Leaves that are semi-dried out will work for this method.
Put the leaves between two sheets of wax paper.
Next, get your iron and iron board.
Cover it with a rag since you have to place wax paper on it and ironing that can get wax on the iron board.
After that, place the wax paper with the leaves on the rag, cover it on top with another rag or piece of cloth.
Set the iron to a high setting but not the steam setting.
Begin to slowly run it over the rag in back and forth motion.
At this time you need to be careful to not press it too hard.
In that case, the leaves will shift.
As the wax paper begins to seal start using the full weight of the iron.
Press it hard on each part of the paper for five seconds in one place.
This way, the wax paper will fully melt together and seal the leaves in place.
If there is still some left, iron the sheets for longer.
After ironing, the wax paper will be hot, allow it to sit till it is cool enough to touch.
Now, you can cut out the leaves that are sealed inside the wax paper.
Cut carefully leaving a small margin so that the wax paper is still sealed.
Next, you can preserve the fall leaves with silica.
Let’s find out how.
Preservation with Silica Gel
The silica gel is in the form of white powder that absorbs moisture.
Hence, this gel that looks like salt is great for speeding up the leaf drying process.
As it absorbs moisture, it can work on thick and moist leaves.
Most other methods recommend using thin leaves but this one can work fine on thicker ones too.
What You Will Need:
- Microwave oven and dish
- Silica gel
- Acrylic sealant paint
- Fall leaves
Firstly, select leaves that are still supple and moist.
At the same time place around a 1-inch layer of silica gel in a microwavable dish.
In this dish, add the leaves on top of the gel.
Space them apart.
Leave some space on the sides of the dish and between the leaves.
Top the leaves with another layer of silica gel entirely covering them up this time.
After that, place the dish to heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.
Use medium heat and half a minute intervals till the leaves begin to dry.
After the leaves are dry, let them cool down.
Finally, you can seal them with acrylic spray so that they last longer.
These are a few of the ways in which you can get preserve the fall leaves.
The leaves are only part of one season, however, you can preserve them in the form of decorations that last you quite a while.
This way you can keep the ambiance of fall in your home even in the scorching heat of the summers.
So make sure that you preserve the fall leaves correctly so they last dried up without any spots or curling up.