Preserving Boxwood

In addition to my article here is a great step by step tutorial that may help with the correct amount of glycerine to use when preserving. They use a tube to hold the cuttings upright. That is a great idea!!!

I love preserved boxwood wreaths and topiaries so I decided I would pick up a boxwood shrub this summer to use for future projects. If you are lucky enough to already have a boxwood shrub in your yard why not try this easy project. In order to preserve boxwood you need glycerin, dye (if you want to keep the leaves green), and citric acid (the citric acid appears to be optional, as not all recipes include it). The glycerin allows the plant to be preserved, but still pliable and soft for bending into wreaths. Mix one part glycerin with two parts water. I picked up my boxwood shrub at Home Depot for about $20. I plan on working it into a live topiary shrub at some point. The glycerin proved to be a little more difficult to find. Some pharmacies carry it, but it took me 4 stops before I found a bottle at a Sprouts grocery store (none at my Walgreen's). You can also find the glycerin and the citric acid at soap making supply stores. This is a two part post with the second part being the actual projects made with the preserved boxwood stems. I have some inspiration photos below from Pinterest. The preserving will take a few weeks so start now and you will have plenty of time to make holiday wreaths and topiaries to keep and give.

For This Project You Will Need:

Boxwood shrub


Dye (optional)


Glass or Ceramic Container

Start by giving your Boxwood shrub a little haircut. Trim off branches that are healthy looking. Use only nice looking branches with no spots on the leaves. 

Pull off a few leaves at the bottom of the stems and give the end a little smash with a hammer. This is supposed to help the stem take up the glycerin better.

Determine how much solution you will need for the preserving. The standard rule of thumb is one ounce of glycerin solution to one ounce of plants. A standard recipe you can use is 2 parts water to 1 part glycerin. So my recipe was the same, but I added colorant:

1 Part Glycerin to 2 parts water

*1 tsp of Concentrated Dye (optional)

*The leaves of the boxwood will turn golden colored if you do not add dye. The other option is to spray paint the preserved boxwood stems green when dried.

Add 1 teaspoon of dye to 1/2 cup of hot water and set aside.

Place hot water in a glass or ceramic container.

Stir in glycerin until dissolved.

Add the remaining dye solution, making sure your total is still 2 parts water to one part glycerin.

Once the solution has cooled down add your stems. My shrub is pretty small so my stems were not very long. I found I needed lower containers to fit the branches. If your stems are nice and long a wide vase would be perfect. Make sure all the exposed part of the stem is soaking in the glycerin and water solution.

Allow your stems to soak up all of the solution. It should take about 1-2weeks. Allow to be fully dried for about 3 -5 weeks before using. 


The Rebel Crafter


  1. Awesome! Good to see you back!


  2. Do you think this would work with rosemary? I think these are so beautiful.

  3. Thank you so much for this. I have a lovely boxwood hedge, that was here when I moved in. I usually pick some for flower arranging, but last year I made a wreath for Christmas. I found that the boxwood dried pretty well, the wreath is still on my wall, and I just gave it a spray with green paint when it had yellowed. Does the glycerine keep the sprigs soft? Mine is a little brittle.

  4. Yes the glycerin keeps the plant pliable and supple so they don't dry out. I will add that note to my blog, thanks.

    I am not sure on rosemary but the Kansas State horticulture has these plants listed for preserving with glycerin: Annual Statice, Broom Bloom, Juniper & Cedar, Leaves of woody plants, Yarrow,Oak, Baby’s Breath,German Statice, Grasses ,Salal ,Sweet Annie ,MyrtleAspen, Corn Plants,Pepper, Grass (Lepidium), Poplar / Cottonwood Candytuft CaspiaEucalyptus, Birch.

  5. Oh wow, I love this! I have boxwood, love boxwood wreaths and love making wreaths. I never even thought about using my own boxwood. I'm pinning this and I'll definitely be giving my boxwood a haircut soon!

  6. This is great. I have to try this. I am so new to crafting home decor, where would I find the glycerin and citric acid? Thanks.

  7. You can find glycerin at pharmacies or vitamin stores. I found mine at sprouts grocery store. Some crafts stores may carry glycerin in the dried floral craft section. Citric acid is harder to find. Not all recipes use it though. You usually get it online at a soap making store site like Possibly Etsy or Eby may carry it as well. If you do buy citric acid make some homemade bath bombs! They are easy to make with citric acid and baking soda. Just google homemade bath bombs for recipes :)

  8. Visiting from your feature over at Elizabeth and Company ... I have access to GOBS of boxwood, and I will absolutely be out there snipping and preserving to make what I hope will be a killer Christmas wreath for our front door. Thank you SO much for this recipe.

  9. Anonymous9/17/2012

    Is the dye you use food coloring or some other type of dye. I can't wait to try this

    1. You need a permanent dye not a food colorant. I used candle/soap making dye but they suggest Absorbit a dye for drying florals.

  10. Did you ever make anything with your preserved boxwood? I was searching your site and did not see a post. Would love to see how your preserved boxwood turned out>>>>>>

    1. So sorry I missed this!!! I was out of town!
      OK I am guilty of not making my mini wreaths yet!! I wanted to make small ones to hang off the back of my dining chairs. Like here: The holidays got the best of me, so sadly the stack of preserved stems is still on my to do list! :)

  11. Can you refresh an already preserved boxwood? I have several that are looking a little yellowish green and would love to spruce them up for spring.

    1. So sorry I missed this!!! I was out of town!! I am not sure if it will work :( You may have to spray paint the leaves green :(

  12. Can you refresh an already preserved boxwood? I have several that are looking a little yellowish green and would love to spruce them up for spring.

  13. I bought a preserved boxwood and spray it with water once a week. I bought it a year or so ago and it still looks perfect, with no yellowing, so maybe spraying it is the key to keeping it healthy looking? I am DEFINITELY gonna try to make my own as soon as I get my hands on the supplies. I've got 3 BIG boxwoods out front! Thanks for the How-to!

  14. For those that want to use citric acid, it can be found in the canning section at Wal-Mart.

    Does anyone know what the specific purpose is for the citric acid, especially since the boxwood can be preserved without it? Thanks!

  15. Oh, and you can buy glycerin at Wal-Mart, also. In the pharmacy area.

    Anyone have any sources for buying boxwood tips in bulk for a reasonable price?

  16. Anonymous10/31/2013

    How do you estimate the boxwood in oz.?

  17. This was wonderfull, I am on a boxwood kick right now and whoa does it get spendy. Thanks to you, now I can do it for just a few pennies. :)



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