Waxing Camellias

Gary Stockton, Fields, Lee Ann  |  11/9/2016 10:14:17 PM

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The moon waxes, we wax our cars, and at homecoming you can wax nostalgic, but we are going to talk about waxing camellias! These lovely, cool-weather beauties should begin blooming soon and waxing the flowers will add a new dimension of enjoyment to camellia season.

Waxing camellias is taking the bloom and literally dipping it into paraffin wax to coat and preserve the flower. The flower takes on a porcelain luster and remains fresh looking without water for about a week. Waxing works best on the white, pink, and variegated varieties (red petals seem to look too waxy). Many people have asked me about waxing sasanquas, and I certainly think it’s worth a try, but the sasanqua petal is often thinner than a camellia petal so it might not work as well.

Some of the most beautiful waxed camellias I’ve ever seen were done by the Camellia Club of Mobile, Alabama, so I went straight to their website, www.mobilecamellia.org, for directions. Their site also has great photographs so check it out before you get started. Also, be careful! Paraffin wax is very flammable so do not heat it over an open flame and working with hot wax requires caution.

Materials

  • paraffin (Gulf Wax) wax (canning section of the grocery store}
  • mineral oil (grocery story or drug store)
  • large bowl of ice water (get it cold and take out the ice)
  • clock with a second hand
  • candy or digital thermometer (accurate temperature is critical)
  • fresh, dry camellia blooms

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.

Process

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.

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

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


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