I'm starting to make a plant collection, but the pressing in the traditional method is not going super well. I know I need practice, but some people have told me I can also microwave the plants in a terracotta press to dry them. Is this an acceptable method of drying specimens for academic use? What about microwaving for a little bit, then finishing off the pressing in the traditional manner?
Hooray for plant collections! So glad to hear that you’re starting one!
I’ve only ever pressed plants traditionally, so I’m no expert in alternative methods. If you’re having trouble getting them to dry, I can recommend placing a fan next to your press so that the air passes through the channels in the corrugated cardboard, like this:
(Please excuse my laughable drawing, I did it in a hurry.)
The channels in the cardboard should be going along the short side, so it’s easier for air to pass through. Also make sure that you’re keeping your press somewhere dry, insofar as you can. I’m always sure to keep my press and specimens out of my basement, because it’s very damp down there.
In terms of using terracotta or microwaving, this website talks about it as a method of drying plants, from my quick internet search. Followers, if any of you know about alternative methods for drying plants, pass along the info and I’ll add it to this post!
If anyone has any more questions about the plant pressing or mounting process, let me know and I’ll do my best to help you out!
I'm a high school student looking to major in botany in college. However, I really don't have much experience with plants and the only formal education I've had on the subject is 9th-grade Biology... Can you recommend a way I could expand my knowledge of plants? Or do they start with the basics in college?
A great way to start learning is by reading! I have a short list of books here, all about different areas of botany. [Followers, if you have any suggestions, please send them my way!] Getting outside and identifying plants can be a great way to learn. If you happen to live in the northeastern US, Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide is awesome, otherwise get a local field guide (your local library should have some) and go on hikes. Wikipedia is actually a great place to find plant information, so if you see a plant or plant family, on here or anywhere else, it’s worth googling to learn more!
That said, my experience with botany degrees is that they do teach you the basics. I was required to take entry-level biology in my freshman year, as well as a basic ecology course my sophomore year.