How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves

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How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves with Mod Podge for Home Décor

There are many tutorials for how to preserve magnolia leave. This one is the way I know best. But first, a quote!

“I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.” – Shelby from Steel Magnolias

Remember that movie? I must have watched it a dozen times.  Every time I look at a magnolia tree I think of this movie. I have three 30-ish feet magnolia trees on my property and have never used the leaves! Can you believe it? They are so beautiful and very tough, so they make great leaves for decorating.

How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves with Mod Podge for Home Décor

I decided to use them in my Christmas decor this year so I thought I’d share how to preserve them, so they last longer.

I have read several articles that this method works, but to be honest I am trying it out for the first time.  As a test, I kept a leaf to the side that I did not cover with Mod Podge to test the difference.

How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves Instructions

Time: 30-60 Minutes

Materials:

This materials list includes affiliate links for recommended products.

How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves with Mod Podge for Home Décor

preserving magnolia leaves

Time for this project depends on how many leaves you need.

Step One:

Remove the leaves from the tree and rinse them with water. Dry them off with a clean towel or paper towels.  Allow them to air dry completely. If you apply Mod Podge to wet or damp leaves, it will appear white or faded after a week or two.

Step Two:

Spread out newspaper or packing paper to protect your work surface. Paint the front of the leaf with Mod Podge using a foam paint brush.  Be very liberal with the Mod Podge and make sure you cover the entire area including the stem. Any uncovered area will still turn brown. I used Mod Podge with the Matte finish, but you can use the glossy finish if you like. I found that using the matte finish keeps the leaves looking natural and shiny.

Cover the middle, sides, and stem. Allow them to dry. Turn them over and paint the back. Again, be very liberal with the Mod Podge ensuring that the entire leaf is covered. Allow them to dry. REPEAT three more times.

Step Three:

Use them for your décor!

 

I used them for embellishing my grapevine wreaths as well as decorating the garland for my mantel and front door.

Tip: Use floral wire or garland wire to attach the leaves to your wreaths or garland.  You can buy a pack of garland wire at the 99 Cent Store.

How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves with Mod Podge for Home Décor

 

Without using Mod Podge, magnolia leaves will slowly dry out in about 4-6 weeks. I will keep you posted on the status of this method and how much longer the leaves will last. Important: Be sure to keep the leaves out of direct sunlight as well.

Optional Magnolia Leave Preservation Method

You can also use the glycerin method. This takes longer to do than using Mod Podge. For this you mix one part glycerin with 2 parts hot water. Submerge the leaves in the solution for three to four days. Allow them to dry.

I hope you like my ideas for how to preserve magnolia leaves.

Need more ideas?

Here are some other fun DIY Wreath ideas:

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 How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves with Mod Podge for Home Décor

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38 Comments

  1. Love magnolia wreaths!! How long did the leaves last with the mod podge method? Do they last any longer with the glycerin method?

    1. Hi Angela! They are about the same. The mistake though that I made with some of the Mod Podge leaves is that I did not let some of them dry completely after rinsing all the debris off. So, just make sure they are. It takes some time.

      1. I tried the Marge podge last year it was recommended to wash them first, I would not recommend that and I read a different article this year saying not to wash them or with them, I am all with that because many of my leaves got damaged it took forever for them to dry What I’m getting ready to do is to just wipe them with a barely damp cloth so there’s no loose dirt give them a few minutes on a tray to dry fully before you using the Marge podge hope that was helpful They are incredible leaves almost prehistoric Laura

  2. Sorry if you mentioned, how long did the color last with both methods? Thinking about using some for a diy wedding project and I’d like to know when to get started.

    1. If you are using them for a wedding, to be safe I would do it no more than 2 weeks prior. I say this because you have to make sure the leaves are COMPLETELY dry before applying the Mod Podge, or you will get some brown spots after about 2-3 weeks.

    1. Hi Carol! This wreath lasted several weeks! I did make a mistake on a few of the leaves, though (I didn’t let them dry thoroughly). So, I removed the brown ones, and spread the rest apart and it still looked great.

  3. If you do take precautions and make sure they are thoroughly dried before applying the MOD Podge, how long will they stay a green color?

    I used glycerin and water with green food coloring a few weeks ago and although I feel they are in the process of being preserved (I will give them another week or so, not in a rush to use them) the leaves all turned brown, although pretty, I wanted them green!

    Before my husband cuts this tree down, (it was seeded by a bird dropping and is a wild magnolia that grew way to fast and taking over the garden) I will cut more off and MOD PODGE, if they stay green color and mi the 2 together!

    Thanks!

  4. I have a magnolia leaf that is already Brown and dried out it is beautiful just the way it is I would like to harden it and make it an art piece I have never done this before so I was just looking for some advice I would like to possibly make it as hard as glass

    1. Hi Shannon! My mistake on some of the leaves was rushing and not allowing them to dry completely before I applied the Mod Podge. But on the ones that were dry, they lasted quite a long time.

    2. Dinah, sorry to be repetitive but how long is several weeks? I’m decorating an historic building for Christmas and need a good estimate of lead time preparation.

  5. I found trying to preserve these leaves are a waste of time and expense. Simply attach fresh leaves to wreath. The will still turn brown and get very brittle same as if the were not dried.

  6. My leaves are turning brown after one coat while I am mod podging. Is there a time frame where the leaves need to be picked, rinsed, dried then the three coats applied to keep from turning brown?

  7. I’m a newbie to green stuff.
    How long do they take to dry? How do you know they’re dry? Would putting them in the microwave for a few seconds help?
    Thank you for your response. 😊🙏

    1. Hi Yolanda! You will be able to tell by the touch. I would wait overnight to be sure. Honestly, I never thought about the microwave! Try it with one and let me know!!

  8. Hi, I collected the brown leaves and sprayed them with silver paint. They came out beautiful and lasted a long time!
    Valerie

  9. I’m so glad I found this post. I want to use Magnolia leaves for my Christmas decor this year. I read that leaves preserved with the glycerine method can damage wood surfaces. I have an enormous Magnolia tree so I always have a supply of leaves, so longevity is not an issue, and finding this post was a major score. Thanks!

  10. I am using the Mod Podge method but finding they are turning brown after drying. Having a hard time getting any to stay green after Mod Podge applied. I need about 80 leaves and don’t want a brown wreath. I am wiping them with a damp cloth and allowing to dry before application. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. My guess is two things: 1) make sure they are REALLY dry. I would wait a couple days. 2) Apply a 2nd or 3rd coat of Mod Podge. I hope this helps!

  11. I’m absolutely amazed at your patience in answering every question. Many bloggers won’t bother with their readers once the blogger has posted. Thank you for your kindness. Good luck in your artistic jaunts into the world of DIY.

  12. Hi there,

    I am doing a project where I am saving a bridal bouquet…. with magnolia leaves of course! They have been out of water for a few days now, trimmed stems and everything. Still very green and healthy. When can I put the modge podge on- do I have to wait until the leaves are crispy? I am going to put these in a frame after, is it possible that they could last for years as they are protected? Thanks for the help ❤️

    1. Hi Kylie! You don’t have to wait until they are dried out. I’m not sure how long they will last but mine lasted over a year. I ended up disposing of this wreath after I had to move, so I’m not sure the longevity of the leaves after a year (or so). I hope this helps!

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