by erin stewart full (509 of 50)

How to Make Flower Essences

Last week I shared a post about 14 flower essences you can capture in the early spring (you can read it here) and I soon received several questions about what that meant, so I thought I would elaborate today. Let’s talk a bit more about flower essences – what they are, how you can capture them, and how you can use them in your apothecary.

Flower essences capture the energetic essence or imprint of a flower – the flower’s personality and subtle effects on us. Have you ever looked at a flower and found that it made you feel a certain way? A bright orange daylily might make you feel inspired and invigorated, like life is full of possibilities. A soft pink cottage rose with hundreds of velvety petals might cause you to feel comfort and beauty and contentment. A flower can change the way you feel. Different flowers have different personalities or effects on us and we can capture those personalities (essences) and preserve them so we can have access to them even when the flowers are not blooming.

The effects of flower essences are different than herbal actions – herbal actions have a direct effect on the physical body or mind (though they can also affect our emotions, especially when it comes to herbal preparations like hydrosols and essential oils) because of their chemistry and inherent synergy – the molecules of the herbs interact with our bodies and can affect the way our bodies are functioning. The effects of flower essences are more subtle. Flower essences don’t have varying chemical makeups because they don’t actually contain physical plant material by the time we bottle them for use (they’re more homeopathic), so their therapeutic effects don’t reach into the physical plane in the same way. They affect us on an energetic plane and can help us to shift more nuanced aspects of the mind and emotions. These shifts can sometimes then manifest on a physical plane, especially if our physical ailments have been rooted in something emotional or psychological, but their main effect is more energetic.

That might sound a little esoteric and it’s true that we don’t have a lot of scientific information about how flower essences work, but there are a few things we do know:

  • Plants are intelligent. Fascinating research has found that they are able to communicate with each other, respond to their environment (including adjusting their chemical makeup in response to environmental factors like sounds, smells, etc.), and even, in the case of flowers, vibrate in response to the sound of a nearby bee.
  •  Different flowers have distinct electrical fields. Bees are attracted to them and are able to tell the difference between them. Bees also interact with flowers in such a way that the charge of the flower changes when pollinated and the change lasts for a couple minutes – other bees can even tell if the flower has just been visited by another bee or not. Flowers can respond to the sound of a bee coming by making their nectar sweeter to prepare for the bee’s visit! {source}{source 2}{source 3}{source 4}{source 5}

When we think of plants as living things that can interact with and respond to their environment and communicate with each other and other species, it’s not so difficult to understand that they have different personalities. Think of a few of your friends – they all have individual personalities and probably make you feel a certain way when you’re with them. One friend might have a comforting, soothing presence and give the best hugs while another might be happy and bubbly, brightening a room with her presence without even needing to say a word. Animals have different personalities too…and so do plants.

When it comes to flowers, we can capture that essence or personality using water, preserve it with alcohol so it will last longer, and prepare homeopathic-style flower essences for our apothecaries. There are several reputable brands that offer flower essences (Dr. Bach and Lotus Wei, for example), but we can also make flower essences ourselves.

How to Capture a Flower Essence

You’ll need to find a flower that is looking its best – vibrant, happy, in full bloom (before it has started fading) and on a healthy plant away from polluted areas like roadways or places that have been sprayed with biocides. Knowing which flowers will be blooming in your area at any given time can help you to prepare your materials ahead of time so you’re ready to capture flower essences at just the right moment. Some people like to collect flowers on the new moon or full moon, which is often when plants have an abundance of blooms. 

Prepare yourself by entering a relaxed, open state of mind. Fill a glass bowl with pure water. Filtered water will work, or you can use spring water. Take a pair of sanitized snips and a light tea towel or piece of cheesecloth with you. Use your snips to gently clip the flower head from the stem so that it drops directly into your bowl of water without you needing to touch it with your fingers.

You can make your flower essence with just the one bloom or you can add several flowers to the bowl so that the surface is loosely covered with blooms. Be mindful – if the plant only makes a few flowers, leave as many as possible behind for pollinators. If the plant makes abundant blooms or is particularly weedy, using many blooms may not be an issue. If the plant is endangered, it’s best not to clip the flower at all and, instead, to find a way to make the flower touch the water’s surface without cutting it from the plant.

Set your bowl with the flower essence in a sheltered place, exposed to either the sunlight or the moonlight and allow it to sit for awhile. If you’re in an area where insects could fall into the water, cover the bowl loosely with a thin tea towel or cheesecloth. Thirty minutes would be a good start, though many people prefer to let it go for 2-4 hours. Try to sense when it’s finished; often you will just know when it’s ready. If you start to notice changes in the way the flower looks, it’s finished. Carefully remove the flowers from the water without touching the water with your fingers (use a clean spoon if needed).

The water that remains is your pure flower essence. Pour it into a sanitized amber glass bottle until the bottle is halfway filled, then top off the rest of the bottle with organic alcohol to preserve it. You need the alcohol content of the mother essence bottle to be between 25-40% to effectively preserve it, so you’ll want to work with an alcohol that is at least 100-proof. This bottle becomes your mother essence.

The mother essence is not used on its own, but is used to make stock bottles and dosage bottles of flower essences. To make a stock bottle, you would take 5-10 drops (7 is pretty standard) of the mother essence and combine those drops with 50% water and 50% alcohol in a sanitized 1 ounce amber glass dropper bottle. This stock bottle is what you would keep in your apothecary for making flower essence dosage bottles. (Think of it as the equivalent of an undiluted bottle of essential oil or an essential oil stock blend in aromatherapy- you would dilute it before use.)

Dosage bottles require one further dilution step. Take 5-10 drops from the stock bottle and combine with 50% water and 50% alcohol in another bottle to create your dosage bottle. Dosage bottles are what you would use therapeutically (the equivalent of a diluted essential oil in aromatherapy).

Dosage bottles can be made with custom blends of flower essences from different stock bottles or with a single flower essence.

Both stock bottles and dosage bottles are available commercially, so check with your brand of choice to see if the product you are purchasing from them is ready to use or needs to be diluted.

Some Ways to Use Flower Essences

Flower essences can be used internally or topically. To use a flower essence, you could use the dosage bottle to:

  • place a few drops directly under your tongue several times each day
  • add a few drops of the flower essence to your water bottle for the day
  • apply a drop to your pulse points a few times each day
  • formulate aromatic room sprays that you can use throughout the day
  • add a few drops to a poultice, compress, or cream
  • make a honey elixir

With regular use over the period of several days, weeks or months, you will start to notice subtle shifts and may find that you no longer need to use a particular essence after a little while – you’ll sense that its work is done or that you have reached your goal with that essence. At that point, you can take a break from flower essences or move on to working on another layer of your emotional body by switching to a new essence or blend.

There are so many beautiful books about using flower essences to help us facilitate change in ourselves, so I won’t go into specific uses here, but I do encourage you to do some further study if the topic interests you. Happy essence making!

Much love,
Erin

Do you use flower essences? Tell me about your experience with them in the comments below.

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Erin Stewart is an herbalist, NAHA certified aromatherapist, organic gardener and urban homesteader. She grows over 150 kinds of aromatic and medicinal plants for her own apothecary and distills essential oils and hydrosols in her PNW garden. Erin is the founder of Floranella and of AromaCulture’s herbalism + aromatherapy magazine.

Want to learn more about herbalism and aromatherapy?

AromaCulture Magazine is filled with educational articles, case studies and recipes written by practicing herbalists and certified aromatherapists. New issues are published each month and issues are available individually or via subscription. Visit www.aromaculture.com for more information.

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17 thoughts on “How to Make Flower Essences”

  1. Becki Cook

    This was well done, thank you. I leave for Tucson Arizona to become a Flower Essence Practitioner on April 21st @ Desert Alchemy. I thought you were very clear and concise.

  2. thank you for this introduction to making and using flower essences; made some blue bonnet flower essence and viola flower essence since we have such an abundance this year. will try each alone for a week or so to see what I notice and keep a journal page.

    1. Erin Stewart

      That’s a fabulous idea, Meredith! I’d love to hear about what you find. Feel free to check back in here or email me with an update if you notice any effects. =)

  3. Wonderful article Erin. I made my first flower essence recently from orange blossoms. Their aroma is so intoxicating and they looked so perfect. I wonder how the essence will affect my energy? Love your passion 😊

    1. Erin Stewart

      Ohhhh, an orange blossom essence sounds lovely! I’m looking forward to hearing about how you find it affects you. =)

  4. This article really inspired me to continue my practice with flower energy. I’ve been taking Western Australian Flower Essences recently and I’ve had some quite dramatic emotional shifts in the last few weeks..I’ll be studying the Australian Bushflower Essences in May and I’m looking toward a career as a practitioner. I’m currently a holistic hairdresser and love sharing flower remedies and apothecary with my clients!

    1. Erin Stewart

      What a lovely field of study, Lisa! Best of luck with your continued studies and career endeavors!

    1. Erin Stewart

      It would preserve the flower essence with non organic spirits. 😉

      I prefer to use organic products, so that’s the main reason why I specified organic in the article, aside from the sustainability and eco-related aspects.

  5. Hey Erin –

    Thanks for this great article.
    Have you ever heard of tapping the bottom of the mother bottle before making the stock/dosage bottles 777 times? I did this with my herbal circle with creeping cherry blossoms and I love taking it. I can’t wait to make more this spring/summer.
    Do you suggest any specific books on the topic?

    Much love-
    xo

    1. Erin Stewart

      Hi Shannon,

      What a great way to infuse the remedy with some good intention! So glad you’re enjoying your cherry blossom essence.

      Katie Hess has a beautiful book about flower essences. I’ll try to upload a list of my other favorites in the near future. <3

      Much love,
      Erin

  6. Thank you for sharing your flower essence article.
    I love the essences. Years ago I was very skeptical about how they worked. It helps when you understand about the body and its energetic system. How important it is to address and to keep it balanced before it can manifest to the physical body. I look forward to more of your blogs.

    1. Erin Stewart

      So glad you enjoyed it, Joan. I agree – when you understand that the body is more than just a physical presence, it helps us understand the essences better. <3

    1. Erin Stewart

      Hi Sherry,

      These are instructions for making a flower essence, which is not the same as a hydrosol. Yes, you can make a flower essence with roses. You can also make hydrosols with roses, but the process would be through distillation. I have a blog post about the distillation process here: https://floranella.com/distillation/ and I cover making hydrosols and essential oils in more detail our certification program.

      Much love,
      Erin

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