How to Keep Magnolia Leaves Fresh for Decorating All Year Round

Magnolia leaves are absolutely gorgeous Their large, waxy green leaves and beautiful white blossoms are iconic signs of spring and summer But did you know that magnolia leaves can be preserved to keep their vibrant color and texture for use in home decor projects?

With the right techniques, you can keep magnolia leaves looking fresh for months, or even up to a year! This allows you to use them to create stunning decorations and displays that you can keep up and enjoy all year round.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about preserving magnolia leaves, from harvesting and preparing the leaves to sealing and storing them. We’ll also provide tips for incorporating your preserved magnolia leaves into gorgeous home decor projects like wreaths, garlands, centerpieces, and more.

When to Harvest Magnolia Leaves

The first step is knowing when to harvest your magnolia leaves. The ideal time is mid to late spring when the leaves have fully developed but are still vibrant green and supple. This is usually around May or June.

Avoid harvesting leaves in the fall when they have started to yellow or brown. The leaves need to be in peak condition in order to preserve well.

Look for leaves that are free from blemishes, holes, or spots Select large, healthy leaves for the best results Use clean gardening shears to clip the leaves at the base of the stem.

Preparing and Drying the Leaves

Once harvested, you’ll need to properly prepare and dry the magnolia leaves:

  • Rinse the leaves gently under cool water to remove any dirt or debris. Avoid submerging them fully.

  • Pat the leaves dry with paper towels or allow to air dry. Make sure no moisture is left on the surface before proceeding.

  • Lay the leaves in a single layer on paper towels, newspaper, or wax paper. Space them out so they are not touching as they dry.

  • Allow leaves to dry completely for 1-2 weeks. Provide good air circulation and rotate periodically.

Proper drying helps remove moisture that can cause premature rotting or browning. Take your time with this step for best results. The leaves should feel crispy and fragile when fully dry.

Preserving Magnolia Leaves with Mod Podge

Mod Podge is an easy decoupage glue and sealer that helps preserve the magnolia leaves. Here are the steps:

Supplies Needed:

  • Dry magnolia leaves
  • Mod Podge (matte or gloss finish)
  • Foam brush
  • Wax paper


  1. Working one at a time, use a foam brush to apply a thick coat of Mod Podge on the front of a leaf. Cover fully.

  2. Flip and coat the back of the leaf with another layer.

  3. Place the leaf coated side up on wax paper to dry. Allow several hours or overnight.

  4. Apply 2-3 more coats, drying between each, until leaves have a smooth, stiff finish.

  5. Once all coats are dry, spray leaves lightly with sealant for added protection.

  6. Let dry fully before using in projects. The leaves will now retain their color and last for many months when stored properly.

Alternative Preservation Methods

While Mod Podge is a popular and easy option, there are a couple alternative methods you can try as well:

  • Glycerin solution – Mix 1 part glycerin with 2 parts hot water. Submerge leaves for 1-2 days. Remove and allow to fully dry before using.

  • Hairspray – Spray dried leaves lightly with heavy duty hairspray, covering front and back. Allow to dry completely. Repeat layers until stiffened.

  • Pressing – Place dried leaves between sheets of wax paper. Put pressed leaves between heavy books or use a flower press. Check periodically until dry and flattened.

Test different methods on a few leaves first to see which you prefer. Glycerin can help leaves remain pliable while pressing flattens them nicely for displays.

Storing Preserved Magnolia Leaves

Proper storage is important for keeping your preserved magnolia leaves looking their best. Here are some tips:

  • Allow all leaves to dry fully for 1-2 weeks after preserving before storage. Any moisture can lead to mold.

  • Store in a dry, dark, cool place away from direct light. A box or book placed in a closet works well.

  • Avoid humidity and moisture which can damage preserved leaves over time. Consider adding silica packs.

  • For long term storage (up to 1 year), carefully wrap leaves in tissue paper or acid-free archival paper.

  • Check periodically for any signs of moisture, mold, or pests. Discard any damaged leaves.

With proper storage, your preserved magnolia leaves can last many months or up to a full year before use.

Decorating with Preserved Magnolia Leaves

The possibilities are endless when it comes to using your preserved magnolia leaves for gorgeous home decor! Here are some inspiring ideas:

Magnolia Leaf Wreaths

  • Preserved magnolia leaves look absolutely stunning on classic grapevine wreaths. Use hot glue to attach leaves.

  • For Christmas or fall, add accent decor like pinecones, berries, or velvet ribbon. Hang on doors, walls, or banisters.

Garlands and Swags

  • Create dramatic garlands by wiring magnolia leaves onto jute, twine, or wire. Hang over mantles or staircases.

  • Accent with pine, eucalyptus, or leftover magnolia stems for texture.


  • Cluster preserved leaves in a vase or bowl for an easy yet elegant table centerpiece.

  • Prop leaves around candle displays, mercury glass vessels, or floral arrangements.

Place Cards or Favor Boxes

  • Use Mod Podge to adhere leaves to place cards, table numbers, or favor boxes. Adds a lovely natural touch.

Table Runners

  • Line the center of tables with preserved magnolia leaves interspersed with votive candles or fairy lights. Breathtaking!

Home Decor Accents

  • Place a wreath of leaves on a wall, frame with a shadowbox, or display solo leaves in picture frames.

  • Use leaves to embellish lampshades, vases, terrariums, or any decorative accessories.

Magnolia leaves add gorgeous, organic texture perfect for any season. Get creative with how you incorporate them into your home decor or gift giving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you preserve magnolia leaves while still green?

It’s best to let magnolia leaves dry completely before attempting to preserve them. The leaves need to be harvested fresh but then fully dried before using any preservation technique.

How long do preserved magnolia leaves last?

With proper drying, sealing, and storage, magnolia leaves preserved with Mod Podge or glycerin can last 6-12 months. Avoid humidity, heat, or direct light which shortens their lifespan.

Why are my leaves turning brown after preserving?

If the leaves weren’t fully dry before applying Mod Podge, moisture trapped under the sealant can cause browning. Ensure leaves are crisp dry next time. Adding too little sealant can also cause browning over time.

Can you preserve magnolia leaves in resin or glycerin?

Yes, clear resin or glycerin are other options for preserving magnolia leaves long-term. Make sure leaves are completely dry first. Submerge small batches at a time.

Should I pick magnolia leaves green or after they start to brown?

Always harvest magnolia leaves while still vibrant green. Brown or yellowing leaves will not preserve well. Select leaves before fall when they are still supple and waxy.

Enjoy Preserved Magnolia Leaves All Year Long

With the simple process of harvesting, drying, and sealing magnolia leaves, you can keep them looking fresh for use in home decor projects any time of year.

Mod Podge and proper storage allow you to enjoy these beautiful natural decorations for months to come. Plus, you can feel good about repurposing leaves that would otherwise simply fall and decompose on the ground.

Are you inspired to start collecting and preserving magnolia leaves from neighborhoods or parks this spring? Let us know about your favorite projects using these iconic giant leaves. Their versatility allows you to get endlessly creative with holiday, seasonal, or everyday decor.

How to Preserve Magnolia Leaves Instructions

Time: 30-60 Minutes

This materials list includes affiliate links for recommended products.

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. Mod Podge will turn white or fade after a week or two if you put it on wet or damp leaves.

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 put them on my grapevine wreaths and used them to decorate 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.

Without using Mod Podge, magnolia leaves will slowly dry out in about 4-6 weeks. I will let you know how this method is going and how long the leaves will last. Important: Be sure to keep the leaves out of direct sunlight as well.

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. It’s crazy that I have three magnolia trees on my property that are about 30 feet tall and I’ve never used the leaves! They are so pretty and strong that they would make great decorations.

I chose to use them as Christmas decorations this year, so I thought I’d share how to keep them in good shape so they last longer.

I’ve read that this method works in a few places, but I’m excited to try it for the first time. I kept a leaf aside that I didn’t use Mod Podge to see what the difference was.

How to make the Easiest Wreath with Fresh Magnolia Leaves

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