Thinking of using sola wood flowers as wedding centerpieces and wondering if they float in water?! I have some good news and bad news to answer your question:
Yes, sola wood flowers float. They are made of very lightweight wood and are extremely buoyant. However, depending on the thickness of the petals and how tightly they have been wrapped, they may begin to soften up and lose their shape before the end of your event. And the dye may discolor the water.
However, I wouldn’t count sola wood flowers out for use in “floating centerpieces” at your wedding. After reading comments in some Facebook groups, I almost didn’t even bother but I’m glad I did because they DO float… it’s just a matter of doing a little experimentation and choosing the right kind of sola wood flowers! Using sola wood flowers instead of real flowers can save you a bunch of money, and unlike most other artificial flowers — they float!
You’ll find that some type of sola flowers float and maintain their shape in water better than others. And for those that don’t do as well in water, there are some tips and tricks to make them float and maintain their shape longer. I did a little flotation experiment with my own sola wood flowers (a couple of flowers that I was willing to sacrifice for the sake of “science”! Haha!). Here are my top tips:
- Use un-dyed, ivory colored sola flowers if possible to avoid the dye leaking into the water
- Use tightly-wrapped (non-fluffed) sola wood flowers that don’t have a lot of space between the petals
- Consider putting wood wax or some other kind of water-resistant sealant on the bottoms of the flowers to keep them from getting waterlogged
- Help “float” your sola flowers with transparent water gels packets
BTW: If you’re looking for a place to buy your own sola wood flowers, I highly recommend Oh You’re Lovely, the place I bought my wedding sola flowers! They have a huge selection at all different price points, and also sell greenery and supplies. You can get 20% off your order with the coupon code Wayfaring20. This is limited to one per customer. Enjoy 🙂
Conducting my own sola wood flower “floating” experiment
There are so many gorgeous floating flower centerpiece ideas for weddings that are oh-so-simple to create — they just require clear vases, water, maybe some candles and mirror bases… and flowers! And based on my little home experiment, you can use sola flowers instead of real flowers and save yourself some money (as sola wood flowers tend to be much cheaper!).
Bottom line (TLDR;): Choose sola wood flowers that are tightly wrapped (with little to no air, or fluffing, between the petals) and that haven’t been dyed.
So, yes, here I am preparing my little flotation experiment (in my fanciest hoodie).
First, I chose two of my sola flowers that had some tears or imperfections that I didn’t like. I had done a terrible “dye job” on one of them and they were both just… not the prettiest sola wood flowers of the bunch, in my opinion! So I thought, why not make them test “floaters”?!
One was an un-dyed “knot-shaped” flower pictured above and below (sorry, I’m not sure what it’s really called!) that was made very tightly wrapped. All sola wood flowers are handmade but some are made very tight and some have looser petals. The petals of this one all touch each other and there is no air at all between them!
The second flower I chose was one with “looser” petals that are more splayed out (the reddish-pink one pictured below). This is one that I had dyed (with a mixture of water and acrylic paint) and then dried completely days prior to this experiment. Both flowers were bone dry before I placed them on the water.
I placed both flowers on the surface of about two inches of room temperature tap water, in two separate bowls, and just left them alone. Here I am with my floating sola flowers:
I left them for 5 hours (about the length of the average wedding reception) and the good news is that they were both still floating at the end of that time.
However, the dyed flower had leaked some of its dye into the water (not terribly though, just a tiny bit) and some of the petals had absorbed and sort of sunk into the water. Here are a couple of photos of how it looked at the end of 5 hours — still floating but lopsided because one side of the petals had become waterlogged:
On the other hand, the white one was still floating, without much change at all to the flower! Here’s a photo of both of them side-by-side at the end of 5 hours:
What kind of sola wood flowers float best?
The white, un-dyed flower held up really well in the water, even after 5 hours while the red flower… not so much. If you can buy some tightly-wrapped flowers as opposed to flowers with a lot of “fluffed” petals with lots of air between them, you’re more likely to make this work.
Will the dye leak into the water?
The water got a bit red but it actually wasn’t super noticeable and I don’t think you can even really tell in the photos that I took (above). The water was just slightly tinted with a bit of red dye. I actually thought the dye would leak a lot and it didn’t. If you want to try this out yourself, I used acrylic paint mixed with water to dye my flower (no glycerin on this one), and let it dry completely before this experiment.
Despite this, I would still probably just go with all un-dyed, ivory colored sola flowers for floating centerpieces, just to be safe.
“Float” Your Sola Flowers with Transparent Water Gels Packets
As we saw in my experiment, sola wood flowers float pretty well but they might need a bit of help depending on the type of flower and how long you keep them in water. Enter the transparent water gel packet, available on Amazon! These are clear gel packets that expand in water, becoming invisible and giving anything placed on top of the water the appearance of “floating” on their own. They’re seriously so cool and perfect for helping your sola wood flowers out and making the perfect elegant floating centerpieces.
Use these as a safety net and also to float some other things in your water vases, such as beads, jewels, other plants and greenery, and/or candles.
Coat Your Sola Flowers Before Putting them in Water
If you want to try sola flowers that are more “lotus” shaped with splayed petals and are concerned that they might fall apart in water, there are a few things that you could try. I haven’t tried these myself yet but am interested in how certain wood sealants would work. For example:
- Household Paraffin Wax which is used for all sorts of things, including making things water-resistant. I wonder if a tiny bit applied to the bottom of each flower would better protect it from the water.
- Aerosol Guitar Lacquer is used for water-proofing guitars and I have a hunch that a tiny bit sprayed to the bottom of the flowers might also work well.
My suggestion is to do your own little experiment in your home. Put the sealant of your choice on the bottom of your sola flower that you want to use in your centerpieces, and let it float in water for about 5 hours. See how it holds up!
Should I Use Bubble Wrap to Float My Flowers?
Finally I have heard of people using a tiny square of bubble wrap, applied to the backside of sola wood flowers to help them float. I honestly don’t love this idea.
First of all, sola wood flowers float on their own, so they don’t really need bubble wrap! This is better for heavier fabric flowers. Sola flowers need help from getting too waterlogged and falling apart, so a wood sealant and transparent gel packets, as discussed above are my picks for a beautiful floating sola wood flower display! 🙂
Hope this helped answer some questions! Good luck!