How To Preserve Your Collection Of Fall Leaves

big-tree-lots-of-leaves-by-shellorz.jpg Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The leaves turn such interesting colors here in Washington. I looked out my 6th floor window this afternoon and noticed that the trees across the street were a mixture of gold, and red, and even though it was raining hard, they were just stunning.

Preserving Fall leaves is one of the best ways to decorate your home during the autumn months.

You can use your preserved leaves to make wreaths, adorn your fireplace mantle, make a centerpiece for your dining room table, or use them as part of your outdoor yard decor. The choices for what to do with your preserved Fall leaves are endless, and only require a bit of imagination.

Here’s how to preserve colorful leaves…


Leaves Worth Collecting

First, you need to go out and collect some colorful leaves.

When collecting Fall leaves, there are a few things you want to keep in mind:

 Don’t pick up leaves that are already dried out and curled at the corners.

 Don’t pick up leaves that have brown spots as the decaying process has already begun to take place.

 Try to find leaves that are flat and have the least amount of damage from for example being stepped on by passersby, or rain.



How To Preserve Leaves

Okay, now that you’ve collected some leaves, it’s time to begin preserving them. Here are 4 ways to  preserve your collection of Fall leaves.


#1 Pressing leaves – the easy way.

Pressing is one of the oldest techniques when it comes to preserving  your Fall leaves, but it’s not the best one. Unlike some of the other methods, this one doesn’t actually do anything to keep the Fall leaf looking its best. (You’ll see what I mean when we get to the next technique.)

Here’s how to do it:

  • Simply put your leaf between 2 sheets of white typing paper, and make sure that none of the corners are turned up.
  • Then lay something heavy on top to press the leaves between the two sheets of paper.
  • In a week, check on your progress. If the leaves still are moist or damp, and haven’t dried out yet, then leave them for another few days until they are.

Once they have dried out, they are ready to be used for crafts.


#2  Pressing leaves – advanced method.

This method, which also requires you to press your Fall leaves, is my favorite method:

  • After cleaning off your leaves so they don’t have any dirt or other stuff on them, lay them out on a piece of wax paper that is on top of an old towel or some other thick piece of cloth.
  • Then, lay another piece of wax paper on top of your Fall leaves.
  • Now, lay another towel on top of these so the leaves and wax paper are sandwiched between the two towels.
  • Then, set your iron on medium, and very carefully iron the top towel. The idea is to melt the wax around the leaves, but be careful when doing this — because you don’t want to scorch the wax. Also, you don’t want any steam, so no water in the iron!
  • Once the wax has melted around the leaves, let it cool, and then cut out the leaves from the wax. Just leave a border of wax around the leaves. If you cut too close to the leaf, you could end up with a hole where moisture and such can get in and damage the leaf.


#3 The glycerin and water method of preserving leaves.

  • Soak your leaves in a flat glass dish, such as a baking dish that holds a solution of glycerin and water.  Make sure when you do this that you have twice as much water as glycerin.
  • In most cases the leaves will start to float to the top so you will need to take a smaller glass dish and weigh them down.
  • Let your leaves sit for 6 or 7 days. During this time, the leaves will soak up the glycerin and water, which will make them supple and flexible for many years.

This is one of the best ways to preserve Fall leaves because it is so lasting.


#4 Using the microwave to preserve leaves.

This method will not preserve your Fall leaves indefinitely. However, it will preserve them for the length of time you want to use them decorate for the current Fall season.

  • First, dust off any dirt, and/or used a damp paper towel to gently clean any dirty leaves.
  • Lay a paper towel on the floor of your microwave, and then put one leaf on it.
  • Put another paper towel over the leaf, and microwave the leaf for 30 seconds.
  • Check the leaf for dryness; if it is still not dry, then microwave for another 30 seconds.

Be sure to watch your leaf very carefully, as it is possible to set a leaf on fire if it gets too dry!


All of these methods will adequately preserve your Fall leaves, though some (such as the glycerine and water method) are better than others since the preservation lasts longer.

Whichever method you choose, preserving your Fall leaves for both decoration and memories is just one of the many ways to celebrate the colorful Fall season.



Some of my favorite things to write about are topics that have to do with living green, saving money, pregnancy, weddings, and dogs. When I'm not writing, I love to spend time with my husband, read, create 3D artwork and Native American beadwork.

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  • Mandy

    I would like to try the glycerin method, but I’ve never worked with glycerin before, where can I buy it and in what form?

  • Jacqueline Roberts