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Not All Flowers Are the Same

So you’re wondering if your particular bouquet will preserve well.  Yes, there are some flowers that preserve more easily than others, and there are some that, no matter what we do, don’t preserve well AT ALL.  Fortunately, the latter is more the exception to the rule. 

Granted, once preserved, the flowers cannot keep that “dewey fresh” appearance.  Once dehydrated, the translucency and moisture that provides an undercurrent of luminosity is lost.  Through coloring techniques by experienced artists, some of that look or personality can be restored a bit.  But the expectation that preserved flowers will appear “just like they did” when fresh is not realistic, no matter how or who preserves them.

Take roses, for example .. beautiful upon preservation.  Folks will often mention that their roses have some browning around the edges or appear wilted.  No worries, really.  The brown edges can usually be trimmed, and petals with significant browning can be replaced, if necessary.  Usually, once they’re re-hydrated, roses retain their shape post preservation.  Coloring changes, for them as well as other flowers ..we’ll talk about that in a later blog .. (see color theory and the preserved flower).  But behaviorally, during preservation as well as afterwards, they retain their shape well and are hardy enough to make them relatively easy to work with during the design phase of the preservation and display process.  Thankfully, we do get a lot of roses in bridal bouquets .. and they do add to the soft lines and lush beauty of a preserved piece.

Garden roses deserve a separate mention .. their petals are very closely tied together within the center of these flowers.  These increasingly-popular bridal flowers are a challenge to preserve, but once through a little “Keepsake magic,” will present beautifully.   The petals are not only closely knit, but curled and intertwined the closer you get to the middle of the flower.  It has taken our preservation team a good amount of experimentation on the best methods for these little fellows, but we’ve really got a good several-process system, enabling us to successfully dehydrate even the challenging centers of these flowers with great success and close to no petal loss.  Our preservationists are so awesome!!

What else do we often see in bouquets?  Lisianthus, stock, delphinium, hydrangea, freesia, alstromeria . ..  The petals on these blooms are thin, so preventing tearing or breakage is important.  But their end-result is gorgeous.  Lisianthus, either white or the lavender, pink or deep purple do beautifully.  They stay “fluffy,” retain shape and personality after they’re preserved.  Stock’s fluffiness is diminished a bit, but the texture remains.  Hydrangea, more often than not, require significant rehydration upon their arrival, and must be handled gingerly as they move into and out of the preservation processes.  But awesome when done and soft and textural.  Freesia often require some TLC due to their exceptionally thin and weak bloomed petals.  End result though?  Great.  Alstros look almost fresh when all is said and done, including their telltale spots and stripes.  When these seemingly delicate flowers are preserved properly (as they are here at Keepsake), their final look remains soft-looking, light and airy.  Colors mellow and deepen, depending on their particular breed of origin, but the result is great texture and visual softness.

Thicker-petaled flowers, like callas, dendrobiums, tulips, amaranthus, agapanthus and amaryllis do very well.  Petal thickness decreases a bit, but not enough for the lay-person to much notice. Dendrobiums, although more of a tropical flower, do very well .. shape is well maintained, although some of the “transparency” of these petals is reduced upon preservation.  Amaranthus and amaryllis must be separated from their stems to retain shape, but for all of these, preservation treats them well.

Lilies .. stargazers, asiatics (of all colors), Casa Blancas, white mountain and other hybrid lilies are rockstars.  The colored ones change color .. stargazers and pink or lavenders become more purplish in tone, whites more ivory, of course.  
Tropicals can present a bit of a challenge, mostly due to petal thickness and color loss.  Blooms like ginger, birds of paradise, (spiny things / pincushions), protea finish up from preserving fine, but are quite labor-intensive coming in due in great part to those thick, vegetable-like petals and leaves requiring dissection and disassembly upon arrival.  And they require a good degree of patience and attention during the coloring phase prior to design.  Once through that “Keepsake magic,” however .. everyone is amazed!

Greenery?   Ivy, ruscus, leatherleaf, petals from lilies and hydrangea, rose leaves ..  all provide close to fresh shaping and coloring becomes deeper, but realistic.   Two once florist-favorite greens, tree fern and plumose, are NOT recommended for display within our keepsakes.   No matter how we treat them, the flaking and loss of those tiny little leaves (they really should be considered eyelashes, they’re so small and plenty!) cannot be prevented.  And no one wants those little things floating around and attaching themselves to random areas of her keepsake background!

The only flowers that more times than not that just don’t preserve worth a darn are day old stephanotis – that is, stephanotis that has been in an arrangement for more than a day .. and succulents ..  For most all stephanotis, we replace with steph that is pretty close to fresh off the vine. The petals of those older stephanotis, when preserved, wave and wrinkle significantly.  While we might get a little of that with the freshly-picked ones, the amount of that issue is rather insignificant.  If stephs are to be used back in the keepsake, we’ll replace them with those freshly-preserved stephs, complete with rhinestone, crystal or pearl centers if that’s how they were displayed within the original bouquet.  And succulents, which are becoming more popular, are so thick and cactus-like that extracting the water from them is impossible while maintaining shape.  At Keepsake, we replace them with an artificial version, that honestly, is almost imperceptible from the fresh varieties.
How about daisies?  And gerbers?  Labor-intensive (which, of course doesn’t bother us, as our entire process is that way, really) to ensure minimal petal loss and petal curling, but great when our preservationists and designers are done with them.  Often times, these babies will need some petal supplementation to avoid sparseness due to shrinkage during preservation, but nothing our ladies can’t handle!

Bottom line?  We haven’t met much of a flower that we can’t preserve.   Yes, some  need a bit more TLC than others, but the secret to a beautifully preserved flower is in the system and the experts working the system.   Fortunately, Keepsake has both great systems and even greater preservationists and artists taking what for some would be impossible and working laboriously to treat, preserve, color and design even the most difficult flowers into a beautiful work of art.  These “angels” that call Keepsake “home”, ensure day after day that the special flowers that belong to our clients are treated with the same attention and care as we would treat our own.

If you have a specific question about flowers you are considering for your bouquet or flowers within your bouquet, visit our website at or give us a call (800) 616-5337.  We’d be happy to help!