How to preserve your greenery with glycerine

Are you thinking about preserving greenery from your garden so you can add it to your autumn and winter flower arrangements? If so, you'll need a bottle of glycerine.

Preserving your greenery with glycerine

There are two easy steps to preserving greenery with glycerine. Although, there is an element of trial and error involved.

  1. Pick your greenery in the summer months
  2. Use the correct solution of glycerine

When to pick your greenery

You need to think about preserving your greenery in the same way as dealing with a glut of fruit and veg in your garden.  Enjoy it in the moment and what you can’t use, preserve for another day.

You need to pick your greenery during the summer months, before it enters its dormant stage and after the new growth has hardened off.  If you cut it too early the new growth will not be robust enough to hold the glycerine and the tips of your stems will droop.  If you cut it too late the glycerine solution won’t be pulled up through the stem in an effective way.

Your glycerine recipe

You’ll need to mix one part glycerine to two parts hot/boiling water.  I bought my 200ml bottle of glycerine from a high street chemist – I found it next to the cough medicine.  You’ll end up with 600ml of liquid (1 pint).

If you’re using boiling water make sure you mixing jug/bowl is heat resistant. I’d suggest you use a narrow container/jug for preserve your greenery in, so your 1 pint mixture sits at a reasonable depth in your jug, rather than having a shallow amount in a wider container.

Re-cut the stems of your greenery and place them in you glycerine mix.  Then watch and wait.

Preserving greenery with glycerine
Preserving greenery with glycerine

How long will it take to preserve your greenery?

Within a few hours you’ll start to notice brown shading on the leaves of your greenery as your glycerine makes it way through the structure of your stems.  Your stems won’t stay green – but will change various shades of brown.

Once they’ve changed colour completely, remove them from your glycerine solution. If you leave your stems too long the glycerine starts to ooze out of your leaves, leaving them sticky to the touch.  Once preserved, leave your stems to dry and then they’re ready to use, or store them in a box for later in the year.

You can reuse the remainder of your glycerine mix – don’t be put off by the fact it may have turned brown.

What greenery responds well to be preserved with glycerine?

The following is a list a greenery you might like to try preserving – if you give it a go, let me know how you get on. In the meantime, you might find this video helpful.

  • Alchemilla mollis (Lady’s mantle)
  • Bells of Ireland
  • Choisya ternate
  • Clematis seed heads
  • Conifer
  • Cotinus coggygria
  • Foxglove seed heads
  • Eleagnus
  • Eryngium
  • Eucalyptus
  • Beech
  • Fatsia japonica
  • Garrya elliptica
  • Ivy leaves and seed heads
  • Hop
  • Hydrangea
  • Holly
  • Magnolia
  • Silver birch catkins

Until next time, happy flowers!


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Preserving greenery with glycerine
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2 thoughts on “How to preserve your greenery with glycerine

    1. Hello Heidi – I’ve never tried preserving sweet olive. It’s worth giving it a go though. Try a small piece and if it works harvest a bigger quantity to preserve. I’d suggest you pick your sweet olive at the height of the growing season – when the sap is rising. Let me know how you get on.

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