Magnolias are flowering trees that grow beautifully and their leaves will be green all summer long. If you want to preserve magnolia leaves to make bouquets or bouquets, it's easy to do so by a process called "glycerol absorption." This process replaces the water content in the leaves with a compound called glycerol that can keep the leaves beautiful for months, even years!
Part 1 of 2: Making a Glycerol Solution
Step 1. Heat 500 ml (2 cups) of water to 60 °C
Place a pot of water over medium heat and wait for it to warm up. Use a thermometer to check the temperature and make sure it doesn't exceed 65°C. After that, turn off the fire.
Hot water will make it easier to mix glycerol with water
Step 2. Mix 240 ml (1 cup) of glycerol in the water
Pour the glycerol into the warm water and stir with a spoon. Keep stirring for at least 30 seconds to make sure the glycerol and water are thoroughly mixed.
- You can buy glycerol at pharmacies, convenience stores, or the internet. Choose engineering glycerol-not laboratory glycerol-because it's cheaper.
- This solution will appear clear. So you can't see if the water and glycerol are well mixed.
Step 3. Pour the glycerol solution into the pan
Use a glass pan large enough to hold the magnolia leaves. Carefully pour the solution and leave an empty space on the top of the pan 1 cm high.
If the glycerol solution remains, store it in an airtight container. You can use it to preserve other leaves or flowers
Part 2 of 2: Preserving Magnolia Leaves with Glycerol
Step 1. Cut the branches of fresh magnolia, pluck the leaves, and cut the twigs
Choose shoots that are fresh and green from the tip of the branch for the youngest leaves that absorb the glycerol more easily. Use a pair of scissors to trim the leaves from the branches, then crush or trim the twigs with scissors to increase the absorption rate.
Cut the leaves from the branches according to their intended use. Some craft projects may require you to leave twigs, while others require leaves without twigs
Step 2. Place the magnolia leaves in the pan until they are completely submerged in the glycerol
Arrange the leaves so they don't overlap and make sure that most of the surface is covered with the glycerol solution. Some of the leaves will float. Split it!
Glycerol is a nontoxic compound that is safe for humans and animals. So you don't need to wear gloves when you touch the glycerol solution in the pan
Step 3. Place a tray or plate on top to keep the leaves from sinking
Choose a plastic tray or heavier plate to place on top of the magnolia leaves. Make sure the tray fits snugly in the pan and covers the entire leaf.
If the tray is not heavy enough to hold the leaves under the surface of the soaking solution, place a heavy object on top, such as a rock or paperweight
Step 4. Leave the magnolia leaves in the solution for 2-6 days
Soak the leaves in glycerol for at least 2 days, then check. When all the leaves look golden brown, remove them from the solution. Leave the leaves that are not yet golden brown in the solution for the next 1-2 days.
- The magnolia leaves will feel flexible when removed from the solution. So, bend it back and forth a few times to make sure the leaves don't break. If the first leaf you bend breaks, put all the leaves back in the solution and soak for another day to absorb more glycerol.
- If you're soaking larger leafy twigs, this process can take 2-3 weeks and you'll need to change the glycerol solution every week to make sure it has enough glycerol.
Step 5. Rinse the magnolia leaves with warm water and pat them dry
Wash the leaves under warm running water to remove any remaining glycerol solution. After that, lay it flat on a towel and pat it dry with a cloth or tissue paper.
If you want shiny leaves, polish them with a soft cloth for 15-20 seconds each to make them shiny
Step 6. Use magnolia leaves in bouquets or display them for years to come
Leaves that are flexible and already contain glycerol will be very durable and long lasting. You can string them into a bun or use them as leaves for bouquets. If the leaves are not being used, store them in a plastic ziplock bag or airtight container in a dark, dry place.