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
- Dish pan of very cold water
- Moss Straw or towel for draining
Prepare Your Work Space
Prepare your work space so you can go from fresh flowers, to wok, to water bath then to drain. You want everything close so you can easily move from one step to another. I use a deep dish pan and use ice water, but I remove any visible ice before I wax. For draining, I prefer to use a large basket with moss.
Preparing Your Wax
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. After the oil has melted, add the mineral oil which will soften 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.
Waxing Your Camellias
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.
Setting Your Blooms
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.
Draining the Blooms
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.
This is my basket of Waxed Camellias. Below I took some of them and wired them to wreath. They stayed beautiful all through the holidays!
After Care For Waxed Camellias
Your camellias will last from one day to three weeks depending on the condition of the blooms, the proper waxing method and location.
Keep the blooms as cool as possible. Stay away from heat or direct sun.
Don't handle them. Yes, it's tempting, but handling will break the waxy coating and the flowers will turn brown. Handle with care and as little as possible.
Waxed camellias do not need water! The wax seals in all of the moisture as long as it covered the complete flower including where it is attached to the stem.
You can float them in water - they are beautiful!
Display them in a variety of ways. You can insert a florist wire prior to waxing and use them in arrangements.
Use blooms as fresh and blemish free as possible. Blemishes and old flowers will turn brown.