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Sola Wood Flowers vs. Real Flowers

If you’re considering using sola wood flowers for your wedding, great! That’s exciting! But you may have many questions about how they look and feel in comparison to real flowers if you’ve only seen pictures of them and have never seen or touched sola wood in person. After ordering and playing with many sola wood flowers in preparation for my own wedding, here’s what I’ve found out:

Do sola wood flowers look like real flowers? No, sola wood flowers don’t look like real flowers, but are instead their own unique thing. They aren’t trying to be real flowers. Some sola wood flowers are designed to resemble real flower species, and may even look very similar to real flowers in photos (especially the higher end versions), but up close it’s fairly easy to see that they aren’t “the real thing.”

Do sola wood flowers feel like real flowers? No, sola wood flowers don’t feel like real flowers. They are lighter in weight and have a soft, foam-like texture in their raw state. If they are dyed, they take on the rougher texture of the paint that you use.

Are sola wood flowers cheaper than real flowers? Yes! A lot cheaper. But they can cost you your time and energy to paint and arrange. More information about that below!

It’s really difficult to explain exactly what sola wood flowers look and feel like without holding one in your own hand! It’s best to buy a small, inexpensive batch and decide whether or not they suit your own personal wedding flower preferences. Do it as early as possible so that you have plenty of time to make a decision before your wedding.

If you do want to buy a small batch to try them out, I recommend the company that I bought my sola wood flowers from, Oh You’re Lovely! You can get 20% off with the coupon code Wayfaring20 (limited to one per customer) — they have a great selection of flowers, plus greenery and supplies 🙂

Here’s a video I made reviewing sola wood flowers that you should check out on my YouTube wedding channel:

Fair warning: If you hate crafting and experimenting with things like dye and DIY, sola wood flowers may not be the route for you! Unless you go over to Etsy right now, and just choose a pre-made sola bouquet that you don’t have to make yourself!

The Look and Feel of Sola Wood Flowers

Sola wood flowers come from plants — either cassava roots, sola plants, or balsa wood in most cases, which I explain in detail in another post if you want to learn all about where sola flowers come from! All of these plants create the extremely lightweight material that makes sola wood flowers. I was really surprised by just how light they are! It’s like holding air in your hand. And all sola wood flowers are handmade (no machines involved), which makes each one slightly different and unique.

In their raw form, they’re a creamy white color — or some have bits of brown left on them (from the bark) for an extra, interesting effect. I haven’t bought any of these ones yet, but I think they’re really cool.

What makes sola flowers look different from real flowers is first of all the fact that sola flowers can come in any shape or size, regardless of whether or not it’s a species of flower that actually exists. For example, I am not familiar with this particular flower in nature but it makes a very interesting and lovely sola flower:

There are some “luxe” versions of sola wood flowers such as these peonies, roses, and others found on Oh You’re Lovely (which I LOVE!!) that DO look an awful lot like real flowers! Especially un-dyed. However, a side-by-side comparison to the real flowers would definitely show them to look different.

Sola wood flower petals also have a different thickness, and the way that they “sit” or fold is not the same as a natural flower. As I said before, I don’t think they’re trying to be exactly like real flowers. I see them as something else entirely. They’re an abstract version of real flowers, sort of like a bouquet of origami flowers or a bouquet of brooches!

However before I ordered my own, I was expecting sola flowers to feel like real flowers. So I was really surprised to get them out of their package for the first time. It was so fun to hold them in my hands and gently squeeze the petals. Sola wood petals sort of make me think of dense, but lightweight, thinly-sliced Styrofoam.

How the look and feel changes when you dye sola wood flowers

In their raw form, sola flowers feel really nice to the touch, but this changes with the dyeing process. In my experience, dyeing the flowers changes their texture, and unfortunately makes them more fragile and prone to chipping.

After dyeing my flowers with acrylic paint and drying them in the oven, my flowers were much stiffer, and not nearly so squishy and pliable anymore! I also felt like they were more fragile and prone to cracking and chipping.

Me and my current collection of acrylic and watercolor paints!

I also dyed some of my flowers with watercolor paint and dried them in direct sunlight. The texture of these ones was somewhere in between — not as soft and pliable as they were originally but not as stiff and brittle as the flowers with acrylic paint. I haven’t tried latex or fabric paint yet, so that might yield slightly different results!

Here’s a picture of one of my flowers (above) after dyeing it with acrylic paint and drying it in the oven. I had gotten the oven tip in a Facebook group, which I agree is a good way to dry them quickly and prevent molding… but I might have taken it a bit too far. My first batch of flowers got really brittle, “crunchy” and chipped super easily.

For a full rundown on how to dye your sola wood flowers with acrylic paint and glycerin, check out this video I made on my YouTube channel:

In this video, I used 1 part glycerin to 5 parts boiling water, but if you want your flowers even softer/smoother, you can up the glycerin amount (see below).

Softening up your sola wood flowers with glycerin: Option #1

What I would like to try next appears to keep the petals from getting too stiff or brittle: vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin is a chemical that can be purchased here on Amazon, and is recommended for the sola wood flower dyeing process because it SOFTENS them up! It gets into the pores of the wood like oil and keeps them hydrated and soft.

Had I known this originally, I might have tried it with my first batch. But I’m excited to give it a go in my next round.

If you’re going to use glycerin in your paint mixture to soften up your flowers, I’ve read that 1 part glycerin to 3 parts water is the way to go (Source). You add the glycerin to a container with boiling water, so that it dissolves the glycerin, and be sure to stir the mixture. Once it cools down enough to touch, dunk your flowers into the mixture. A quick dunk is good enough.

You can then dye your flowers as usual (you can do it right away or wait for them to dry first — it doesn’t matter). This is meant to make your flowers softer and less fragile than they would otherwise end up without the glycerin. I can’t wait to try this method!

Softening up your sola wood flowers with glycerin: Option #2

I found a second glycerin method for dyeing sola wood flowers in a Facebook group that also looks promising! It’s good to try out a couple of different “recipes” because there’s a lot of variation in results depending on the brand of flowers that you buy, the brand and type of paint you use, and the style of flowers that you’re dyeing.

Since there is such variation, you may need to experiment a bit and see which exact method works best for what you have. Here’s method or “recipe” #2:

Mix 1 part glycerin to 3 parts boiling water. Let it cool to room temperature. Mix 1 part of this mixture with 1 part of the paint color you want to use. Dunk, brush, or spray the paint onto your flower (whichever method you prefer).

Difference in Cost: Sola Wood vs. Real Flowers

These numbers will of course vary wildly depending on so many factors: florists, sola wood companies, time of year, the flowers that you choose, etc. But we can make some estimations looking at average prices of natural wedding flowers vs. sola wood flowers.

The bottom line: Sola wood flowers are way cheaper than real flowers.

Here are numbers of the cost of natural flowers (including Wedding Wire averages) versus sola wood flowers (estimation):

Bridal Bouquet$160$50 – $100
Bridesmaid Bouquet$75 each$15 – $20
Boutonniere $15 – $25 each$5
Tip for florist$5 – $10$0

This doesn’t include the cost of labor for the florist’s time. On average, couples spend between $700 and $2,500 on natural wedding florals total. Sola wood flowers, even with all of the craft supplies and greenery you may purchase, won’t cost you anywhere near this amount.

On the other hand, it’s true that sola wood flowers can be a lot of labor and time for you, so make sure that you either enjoy this kind of project or that you can buy bouquets, boutonnieres, etc. that you like pre-made on Etsy or maybe even from a friend.

Sola wood flowers are cheaper but you can always save money on natural wedding flowers by going local, choosing in-season blooms, adding more greenery, and doubling your bouquets as centerpieces.

Joys of Making Your Own Sola Flower Bouquet

Sola wood flowers are really fun to paint and arrange. If this doesn’t appeal to you, run away now! You’ll only get annoyed and frustrated! But if you’re into DIY and crafts (like me!), making your own sola wood wedding flower creations can give you complete creative control and a way to bring your wedding decor vision to life for a decent price!

Some of my “assorted” first batch of sola wood flowers (pre-dyed)!

I suggest buying some sola wood flowers, perhaps a small batch, with some acrylic paint, glycerin, stems, and a glue gun to get you started. Consider it a preliminary craft project. Take an afternoon to have a drink with a friend and experiment on some sola wood flowers! Dye them, stem them and then decide for yourself if this is the route you want to take for your wedding!

Here is the complete list of supplies you’ll need, which you can either find linked here (on Amazon or Oh You’re Lovely) or at your local craft store:

  • Sola wood flowers of your choice (start with a small batch to see if you like them first). Don’t forget to use the coupon code Wayfaring20 to get 20% off your order! (this is limited to one per customer however)
  • Wire stems which you’ll need to stem your flowers, as they generally come un-stemmed
  • Hot glue gun to attach your stems to your sola flowers
  • Vegetable glycerin to soften your sola woof flowers if dyeing them
  • Acrylic paint to dye your sola wood flowers
  • Greenery for filler which varies greatly in color and size and can be found online on Etsy, Amazon, and Oh You’re Lovely

Eco-Friendliness: Sola Flowers vs. Real Flowers

I’ve written in the past on this blog about how to do eco-friendly wedding flowers and eco-friendly wedding bouquets and that was before I learned about sola wood flowers!

Natural flowers for weddings do seem to cause a lot of problems for the environment if not sourced correctly. For instance, many flowers used in the wedding industry use a lot of pesticides which is not only harmful in the long run for the environment, but terrible for the workers. They also need to be transported quickly, from very far away, resulting in unnecessary emissions.

So a more eco-friendly choice would be either to use local blooms for your natural wedding flowers (or one of the other 10 eco-friendly flower choices listed in my other article) OR get sola wood flowers!

Sola wood flowers do seem to be eco-friendly, as they’re made from roots and are fashioned by hand (no machines involved). They’re also 100% biodegradable.

I hope this gave you more information about the differences between sola wood and natural flowers! When it comes down to it, if you’re interested at all in sola wood flowers, get a small batch! It will cost you less than 20 dollars and you can see them up close, hold them in your hands, and decide for yourself if you want to use them instead of real flowers for your wedding day 🙂


Brittany is a writer and teacher in Vancouver, Canada. She started the website Wayfaring Weddings as a way to share her research on affordable, eco-friendly, and less stressful approaches to wedding planning.