Waxing Camellia Blooms

Waxing is an excellent way to preserve camellia blooms and gives them a porcelain-like shine that lasts for many days, and sometimes weeks.  A great time to do it is right before a freeze, or when you want to decorate for a party.  Once waxed, they do not need a vase or water -- you can just display them on a plate or by themselves on a table.  Several articles have been written in the American Camellia Society Journal and Yearbooks on waxing camellias.  This is the method recommended in those articles.  It is very simple and easy. A few extra directions and tips from learning the hard way are added. 


Note- A crock pot and a fry daddy will not work because they get too hot. For best results (if you plan to do this a lot) buy a pot (similar to an electric frying pan but deeper) with a temperature control. Rival makes one.


1.  Heat the wax and mineral oil to 140 degrees. Temperature is CRITICAL.  If any cooler, the wax will become the globby (scientific term) and bead up on the petals. If any hotter, the wax will scorch the bloom and petals will turn brown.   Digital or candy thermometers will work. Don’t even think about using a meat thermometer. It is not accurate enough.

2.  Apply the wax - Holding the stem, with the leaves pulled back, and cupping the base of the petals with your fingertips, gently dip the bloom into the wax Using a side-sweeping motion rather than pushing it straight in. Keep in only a couple seconds - just enough to coat it and then remove it.  Give it a couple gentle shakes to eliminate excess wax.

3.  Set the wax – Immediately dip the bloom into a bowl of ice water (take out the ice cubes).  This sets the wax and cools the bloom. Move the bloom in from the side instead of pushing straight down in the water. If you push straight down, it makes the petals fold back and looks unnatural. It also helps if you hold the outer petals down with your fingers to keep them in place as you put the bloom in the ice water. Leave mine in the ice water for about 20-30 seconds. You can let them float in the ice water until the time is up. Make sure you periodically remove the small glops of wax from the ice water. They will stick to blooms you put in later.

4.  Place the bloom on a newspaper and allow to dry and harden.


Pinks and whites are the best.  The dark red blooms show the wax too much but you can experiment. The anemones (real full, tight petals like a carnation) don’t seem to do as well as the others. The wax globs up too much because the petals are so close together. The thicker and stronger the individual petals are, the better the result. Very fragile petals do not last long. Some whites do very well and can last up to a month. They will last even longer if you put them in the refrigerator. (Great for parties or to take to work.)

Start with the whites, then pinks, then darker ones when you wax. The temp can be 138 for the lighter ones and around 140 for the darker ones.

Narcissus, tulip tree blooms, and roses work well with the waxing. Hang narcissus upside down to harden.

Spray the bloms with gold or silver spray paint when the blooms start to fade and turn brown. You will be able to enjoy them even longer. They make pretty holiday decorations.

Wax and oil - You will to need to mix enough so the wax mixture is deeper than the largest bloom you put into it. Once you do this, you will probably be hooked and want to mix up a lot. It is habit forming! You can keep the pot ready and use it anytime by reheating it. Here is what you will need for specific amounts of wax:

.5 lb wax .25 c oil 1.0 lb wax .5 c oil
2.0 lb wax 1.0 c oil 3.0 lb wax 1.5 c oil
4.0 lb wax 2.0 c oil 5.0 lb wax 2.5 c oil


Visible in this photo are some blue and yellow waxed camellias.  These were done by Brenda Litchfield who had the ingenious idea of adding a color crayon to the wax when dipping a white bloom. A basket of waxed camellias displayed at the 65th Annual Camellia show. A waxed bloom of 'Betty Sheffield Supreme' on display at the 65th Annual Camellia Show.  This bloom had been waxed 5 days earlier, still looking good!
 Page last modified 06/02/2009