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From Garden to Craft: The Art of Pressing Daffodils

Updated: Apr 9

The fleeting joy of Daffodils bobbing in the spring breeze brings cheer and hope after the long days of winter, but what if you could capture their sunny beauty for year round enjoyment?


This guide will walk you, step-by-step, through the traditional method of pressing Daffodils and provide essential tips for successful results, so you can hold on to that spring optimism.


With a little preparation and patience, you'll learn how to transform these cheerful blooms into beautiful pressed flowers, perfect for preserving memories or adding colour to your craft projects.



Pressed Daffodils on a flower press
Sunny pressed Daffodils: A new craft obsession for spring

When it comes to pressing flowers, not all blooms are equal. As the blooms get larger and stems get more juicy, successful pressing creates some challenges.


Fear not! Centuries of traditional flower pressers have generated a wealth of techniques to help us tackle those more challenging blooms, and the rewards of seeing those vibrant pressed specimens are all the sweeter when you have learned to overcome those challenges.


The key is knowing a few tricks of the trade......which I'm about to tell you.


The first secret, that few care to share, is that traditional flower pressing is never 100% successful. There will inevitably be some blooms that don't turn out as hoped.


Don't be discouraged. You're working with a natural product and nature loves to throw a curve ball. Be armed with this knowledge, allow yourself plenty of blooms, follow the instructions below and, most importantly, enjoy learning a new skill.


 
A collection of equipment needed for pressing daffodils sitting on grass
Daffodil Pressing Essentials

Equipment needed 

Flower Press (or heavy books)

Cardboard Sheets (I use grey board)

Blotting Paper

Protective Cutting Mat

Sharp Craft Knife

Kitchen Roll (or something similarly absorbent).




 


Top Flower Pressing Tips


I know you want to dash out and quickly gather armfuls of glorious Daffodils from your garden to press, but try to resist for just a few short moments. The following tips will greatly improve your results so it's worth taking time to review them before cutting your precious blooms.


Part of the joy of flower pressing is slowing down and fully immersing yourself in a rewarding activity. So grab yourself a cuppa, sit quietly in your favourite spot and review these tips before you snip.


  1. Weather - To ensure your specimens are free from excess moisture, plan to pick/press on a dry day and ideally wait until afternoon to allow any morning dew to evaporate.

  2. Prepare your press - Take some time to ensure you have all your materials ready. Open your press, place the first sheet of cardboard into the press, add a sheet of blotting paper on top and have extra paper and cardboard nearby for additional layers before you start picking flowers.

  3. Pick in small batches - I know all too well how easy it is to get carried away and pick way more flowers than you have time or space for, so aim to pick enough for 1 or 2 layers of flowers in your press, arranged with plenty space around each flower. It's best to get the flowers into the press as soon as possible after they're picked, so pick a small batch, get them in the press, then pick more if you have room.

  4. Keep it simple - If you're pressing Daffodils for the first time then I'd recommend picking simple blooms, like the traditional single varieties. The full petalled, double varieties are stunning but will be trickier to successfully master. The variety I'm demonstrating with is my all time garden favourite - Thalia.

Are you ready to pick?


 

Step By Step: How to press a Daffodil

A freshly picked Thalia daffodil flower
Daffodil Variety: Thalia

Prize blooms at the ready? Let's get stuck in.

Step 1: Pick a perfect Daffodil & remove the Spathe

For the best chances of success, select a bloom that is newly opened and looking perky.


Signs of damage, or blooms that have started to fade may produce disappointing results, so go for the best of the bunch.


Spathe being removed from a fresh Daffodil
Peel off the papery Spathe


The papery covering below the flower, which protects the bud before blooming, is called a Spathe.


I like to remove these before pressing for a clean pressed flower.






Step 2: Reduce the bulk by dividing the flower head

As daffodils are quite large and have a sappy stem, splitting them in half has 2 benefits;


1. It halves the amount of moisture that the blotting paper needs to dry out, therefore increases the chance of the flower pressing successfully.

2. It gives you double the number of pressed flowers to create with (yippee!)


Splitting the flower in half requires a bit of careful handling, both to prevent you cutting yourself and to avoid damage to the flower (and your table!).


To prevent damage, place a cutting mat onto your surface and lay a piece of kitchen roll on top. Place the flower head onto the kitchen roll to mop up any moisture from the stem.


A Daffodil flower being cut with a craft knife
Cut between the petals at the base

Cut between 2 petals


Position your craft knife between 2 petals, at the base where they meet.

Carefully push the blade into the centre of the flower, avoiding cutting all the way through.







A Daffodils Ovary being cut in half with a craft knife
Cut into the Ovary

Slice through Ovary


Very gently pull the knife down towards the stem, through the Ovary (shown in the picture) then stop.


Again, only slice into the centre of the Ovary, not right the way through to the other side.


You should now have a cut from the base of the petals to just below the ovary.






Rotate & repeat


We now want to repeat this process on the opposite side of the flower, so turn the flower over, counting 3 petals from where you made your first cut. Insert the knife in the same way at the base between two petals and carefully cut down through the ovary.


A daffodil flower being gently pulled in two
Gently pull apart

You should now be able to pick up the flower and see all the way through the cut you've created.














Gently pull the two halves apart

A Daffodil flower head split in two halves
Allow the trumpet to tear in two

The trumpet will start to rip as you slowly pull the flower apart. Keep going until the Trumpet rips fully in two.


You now have one stem and two flower heads









Step 3: Cut the stem


This bit is rather fiddly as the neck can be narrow, so you may end up with one half of the flower without a stem, but don't worry if that happens, it's still perfectly useable.


A Daffodil stem being cut in half
Cut down the full length of stem

Lay the two halves of the flower head onto your protective mat/kitchen roll and place the knife into where you finished the previous cut.

Slowly and gently cut all the way through the stem and pull the knife down the whole length

until the stem is fully separated.











Step 4: Remove excess moisture

Daffodils have a really sticky sap within the stem. It's best to mop up as much of this as you can in order to help reduce the moisture that the press needs to dry out.

A cut Daffodil being dried off on kitchen roll
Gently press to remove moisture

(If you get sap on your hands, wash it off to prevent irritation)


With the inner part of the stem facing down onto the kitchen roll, gently apply soft pressure along the stem to allow the kitchen roll to make contact and draw out any moisture present.


Be very gentle with the stems to avoid bruising them. Bruising can cause the pressed stem to become brown. You just want enough pressure to make contact between the stem and the paper.



Step 5: Loading the press


Now it's time to get the prepared Daffodil into your flower press.


A Daffodil being placed into a flower press
Arrange the petals

Make sure you allow plenty of room around the flower in the press. This will allow the paper beneath and around the flower/stem to remove moisture more quickly and improve the chances of a successful result.


Place one half of the flower into the press, with the raw/cut centre facing downwards.


You can now play around with the composition of how you'd like the finished pressed flower to look.


With Daffodils, I like to gently encourage the petals backwards, away from the Trumpet. This helps to separate layering of petals and improve the pressing success rate, as well as showing off the flower in it's full glory.


A Daffodil being covered with paper in a flower press

With one hand, gently hold the petals in place and with the other hand carefully lay a sheet of blotting paper on top.


In a press this size (A4), I would normally have both halves of the flower on the one page (and sometimes a third) but if you find it difficult to position the petals then you may find it easier to just place one half on each layer.





A Daffodil completed covered with paper in a flower press

This can be a little fiddly and may take a few attempts to get it right. Just take it slowly and be gentle with the petals. You can always lift a corner of the paper and reposition a wayward petal if needed.


Having said that, those wayward petals often create interesting specimens so don't worry if it doesn't behave.







Cardboard being placed into a flower press
Add cardboard to separate the layers

Once you're happy with how the flower is lying, carefully place a sheet of cardboard on top and repeat for further layers until your press is full (or you've used all your flowers).











Step 6: Get Pressing


A flower press being tightened with wingnuts
Loosely tighten the press

It's tempting to pop the lid on and fasten it down as tight as possible, but a more gentle touch will reduce the risk of bruising your precious blooms.


Tighten the press loosely, with just enough pressure to hold everything securely in place. There may be a small amount of space between the layers of blotting paper where the flowers sit but this shouldn't be much more than about 1mm.


On day 2, the fastenings will most likely be very loose. Tighten them a little more firmly than the first press, drawing the layers close together.

Don't be tempted to open the press yet.


Day 3, increase the pressure until it becomes a little difficult to tighten further.


Leave the press in a dry, warm room, out of direct sunlight for 2-3 weeks before peeking. Keep checking it every few days and tighten up the fastenings if needed.


 

Step 6: The big reveal


After 2-3 weeks, when you come to open the press for the first time, slowly peel back the sheets of paper.


You may find that the flowers and/or stem sticks to the paper a little (or a lot). If this happens, it's often better to peel the paper from the flower rather than peeling the flower from the paper. This reduces the risk of tearing the delicate papery flower & stem.


Turn the paper over, so that the flower is facing downward and then very slowly and gently peel the paper back. You may need to hold the flower down with one hand and peel the paper back with the other.

a selection of pressed daffodil flowers
Vibrant pressed Daffodils

You've pressed your first Daffodil! Well done!!


Marvel at your gorgeous pressed flowers, then store them in a box somewhere dry and away from sunlight (in a cupboard is ideal).




Let's get crafty

You've read the blog, you've picked your Daff's, you've prepped, pressed and peeled and you've got some gorgeous specimens. Do you have a project in mind?


Perhaps you want to make a pressed flower card to send to someone and show off your new skills or maybe you want to create a lasting reminder of spring to keep you smiling all year round. The possibilities are endless.


If you're new to crafting with pressed flowers, how about trying an easy to follow crafting kit?


Contents of a pressed flower crafting kit including a mini wooden easel
Pressed Flower Craft Kit

Each kit contains everything you need to complete beautiful pressed flower projects, including step by step instructions, tips and a selection of pressed flowers. Why not add in your own pressed Daffodils, as the focal point of your designs and send me a photo.


Happy Crafting

I can't wait to see what you make!

Barbs.

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