Make a plant press

Activity

Botanists use plant or herbarium presses to preserve plants and flowers as a record of their conservation and scientific value. Use one to record plants growing in your school garden or local area.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Science, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Learners will design purposeful functional and appealing products
  • Learners can select from a range of tools and materials

Essential background information

Preparation

If tools are used, health & safety must be carefully considered. Wood should be smooth with no splinters.
Learners could design the shape and size of their press in relation to the plants to be collected.

Equipment needed

  • Two pieces of stiff material to make the press itself, i.e cardboard, plywood or hardboard (280x350mm)
  • Corrugated cardboard (A4), newspaper & blotting paper A3 folded to A4
  • Drill, long bolts and wing nuts for wooden version
  • String, straps or heavy weights to press the flowers and plants once arranged inside

Step by step

  1. Safely drill a hole approx. 15mm away from each corner on each piece of wood. Place on a flat surface and push the bolts from the underside.
  2. Make a sandwich of cardboard, blotting and newspaper. Use a piece of cardboard to begin and then add the newspaper. When plant specimens are picked they are placed between the folder of blotting paper with several sheets of newspaper, or a single piece of corrugated card between each. 
  3. Continue to make sandwiches of material.
  4. Place the final piece of cardboard or wood on top and secure with wing nuts, string or straps.
  5. The press is now ready for use. Collect plants from your local area and use a plant key or books to recognise and name them.

Hints & tips

  • Ensure all materials used to make the plant press are completely clean and dry before use 
  • Use heavy books or bricks to weigh down the press if you aren’t using screws and bolts
  • Use this activity as part of Flower Power class growing topic

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