Waxing is an old art form of dipping flowers into paraffin wax to seal and preserve them. It’s commonly done with Camellias and it’s a fun thing to do on a cool winter day!
I began waxing camellias many years ago after I attended a waxing demonstration at Massee Lane Gardens in Fort Valley Georgia. I had never heard of waxing Camellias before, and I was hooked from the second I saw it! I rushed home, found an old wok at a garage sale, bought my wax and supplies and started waxing. It’s something that I really enjoy doing not only to have fun, but to decorate my home with the beautiful Camellias that are also decorating my garden. Debbie Odom
5 1lb boxes of paraffin “Gulf Wax”
1 Pint mineral oil
Double Boiler or Electric Wok
Candy Thermometer with a metal base—not glass
Wood or plastic spoon
Deep pan of ice water
Moss Straw or towel for draining
Prepare your work space by laying out a bed of straw or moss. I prefer to use a large basket. This will be used to drain your waxed camellias.
Paraffin is extremely flammable so do not melt your wax over an open fire. Use either a double boiler or you can use an electric wok. A used wok is perfect, especially one with a temperature dial. I do not use my wok for cooking .
If you use a double boiler, you want to use one that is as wide and as deep as possible. Your pot needs to be deep enough so that your flower can be completely submersed and not touch the sides or bottom. Using a candy thermometer melt your wax to 138 degrees. Temperatures below 138 will cause the wax to glob and temperatures above 140 degrees will burn your flower and very possibly YOU. Add the mineral oil to the melted paraffin. Mineral oil softens the wax so it won’t try so hard and crack. Check and adjust your temperature often.
Choose flowers that are fresh, light in color, free of water or mist, and preferably bugs. Cut at least a 2” stem as you will need this to hold on to the flower as you wax. If you choose to wax flowers with powdery pollen on the stamens, you can use a small makeup brush to gently brush off some of the pollen so that it doesn’t discolor your wax.
To wax, hold the flower by the stem and pull back any leaves so that they will not get into the wax. Wax discolors the leaves and your objective is to have your waxed flower look as natural as possible. Completely submerge your camellia into the wax using a slant approach instead of going in face first. Don’t leave your camellia in the wax too long or it could burn it. Just dip it in and remove it. Gently shake off excess drips for a second or two and then using a slight slant entry ease your flower into the pan of cold water. Slanting entry makes the petals retain their natural shape. Plunging your flower into the water too quickly or face first will make the petals stick together and become flattened out. Remove your flower after a few seconds and let the water drip off.
Drain your flower either on a towel or as I do , on a bed of moss or straw . After waxing your camellias will last any where from 1 day to 3 weeks before turning brown. The wax form will hold indefinitely and can be spray painted with a metallic gold or silver spray paint