Sola wood flowers (or shola) are an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to cut flowers. Made from the renewable wood of a marshy plant (not tapioca or cassava as commonly misunderstood), sola wood flowers look like real flowers and last a lifetime.
Sola flowers are easy to dye and are popular for bridal bouquets, DIY crafts and interior decoration. We’ve put together your complete guide to sola, answering commonly-asked questions and sharing our best tips! We’re here to help your floral dreams come true!
What are sola wood flowers made from?
Sola (or ‘shola’) wood flowers are made from a plant called Aeschynomene aspera (rolls off the tongue, right? No wonder they’re simply called ‘sola’!). It’s a plant that grows wild in marsh areas. Because it grows quickly, it is a renewable resource and one of the lightest known woods. If you’ve ever touched balsa wood before, it’s a very similar feeling.
The plant has a layer of bark that covers the internal, cork-like center of the plant (called the ‘cream’). In most flowers, the bark is stripped and the center is made into thin sheets. It is these sheets that are hand-cut to make sola wood flowers.
Sometimes, the bark is left on before the creation of sheets, creating a unique two-tone effect on the flower. These are called ‘bark’ or ‘skin flowers’.
How are sola flowers made?
We’ve already told you about where the wood comes from, but how are the flowers actually created? Every single sola flower is created by hand and no machines are used. Every flower is composed of petals that are hand-cut from the delicate sola wooden sheets, and then composed to create gorgeous, realistic flowers. It’s an artisanal process that can’t be mechanized.
Our Luxe line of sola flowers is individually hand-crafted in small batches by skilled artisans. Using sola wood from Thailand, which can be shaped differently than the sola wood from India, this collection delivers an elevated level of craftsmanship over and above our already top-quality regular line.
What do I need to know to select the perfect sola wood flowers?
Even though all sola wood flowers are made by hand, there are differences in terms of quality. When shopping for high-quality wood flowers, you want to ensure that the flowers are made from whole sheets and that the final flowers do not have any flaws. Flowers with visible flaws are less expensive (produced by the desire to maximize the entire thin sheet, which is time-consuming to produce), but result in a less-desirable finished product.
Sola wood flowers are available in over 150 flower styles, so pretty much any bouquet idea you could create with cut flowers can be replicated with sola! You’ll want to read our post on selecting the ideal number of flowers for your bridal bouquet, and then from there, we recommend collecting inspiration photos and noting the mix of sizes and textures. Sola wood flowers can easily be dyed any shade (more info on that, below!), so all you need to do is select the individual flowers that best match your inspiration image.
I’d love the best sola wood diy project recommendations!
We’ve got you covered! The amazing thing is that if you can hot glue a flower onto it or stick a stemmed flower into it… you can do it with sola wood flowers. We love them so much because they are such a versatile medium (and you don’t have to worry about watering or wilting like you do with cut flowers).
While the list would be a truly long one, these are some of our favorite projects with sola wood flowers:
o Wedding bouquets
o floral arrangements of all sorts
o wall decor
o baby mobile
o floral crowns
o holiday ornaments
Can’t wait to get started on your next project? We’ve gathered our 5 most popular sola wood flower tutorials right here for you:
Sola wood flowers can become squished in the box from shipping (you would be too if you were stuck in a box!). Fortunately, shaping wood flowers is easy to do.
Wood flowers are easily shaped by using a bit of room temperature water. Simply place the flower into a bowl of water, tap off the extra water and then use your fingers to gently shape the petals. Here is a quick video we’ve made that shows you this method:
Just so you know, we would never ship out a flower that is this squished! But we wanted to show you that they really are quite shape-able.
You can also use a spray bottle of water to moisten the flower for the same effect.
Finally, you can also shape flowers using a steamer, which is super-fun (but not necessary if you don’t want to invest in a steamer). Obviously, don’t allow your hand to get burned by the steam… it’s hot!
Do sola wood flowers look like real flowers?
Depending on how the flowers are dyed, sola wood flowers can look very realistic. Don’t believe it? Have a look at this gorgeous bouquet:
But unlike real, cut flowers, sola wooden flowers don’t begin drooping the minute they’re arranged. Your bouquet will remain just as beautiful as the day it was created. With sola wood flowers, you don’t need to worry about timing at all. With cut flowers, time is of the essence, adding stress to already-busy days like weddings and parties. With wood flowers, you can create your arrangements well in advance and rest assured that the arrangement will still look stunning.
Sola wood flowers have a superior look to silk flowers, and have the bonus of being made from a natural material.
Did we mention that you’ll want to dye your flowers for a realistic look? That brings us to...
How do you dye sola wood flowers?
There are a number of ways to dye your sola wood flowers, including:
Dipping your flower into watered-down acrylic craft paint (we’ll show you how!)
Spray painting (use a light touch!)
Painting the flowers with watercolor
Applying paint with a brush
Dip-dyeing your flowers with fabric dye or… wait for it, wine. Yup.
The three basic methods are using a brush to paint the dye on, spraying the dye/paint on (such as with a spray paint can or airbrush) or dipping the flower in a container filled with the liquid dye (or wine. You probably don’t want to drink it afterwards, but we won’t judge.) Have fun and get creative!
The simplest way to dye sola wood flowers is to use watered-down acrylic craft paint. Craft paint is affordable, comes in tons of colors and is easy to find at any craft store or even general supply store. Check out our step-by-step tutorial for how to dye sola wood flowers with acrylic paint. You can also use latex paint (with a 1:1 paint to water ratio) for the same effect.
How do you reshape sola wood petals that have uncurled after dyeing?
Most sola wood flowers will retain their shape after dyeing. However, the rosa and blanche particularly, are prone to uncurling. The techniques for reshaping these flowers is either to dry them in a particular way or to recurl the wood flowers. Here is a youtube tutorial we did showing a few other dyeing techniques including those flowers that can be a bit tricky!
How do you stem sola wood flowers?
If you’d like to do a project that requires the flowers to be on a stem (such as creating a flower arrangement or bouquet), then you’ll need to add a stem. But fret not, this is SUPER easy to do!
To add a stem to your sola flower, simply cut a piece of wire (that you’d like to use as a stem), poke a hole in the base of the flower, remove the wire and add a dab of hot glue, and then re-insert the wire into the hole you created. Easy-peasy.
Want to see that in action (plus a few more tips)? Here is a video tutorial:
As a side note, we typically stem my flowers as the last step before starting the arrangements. So, get your shaping and dyeing done before you do the stemming step!
How many sola wood flowers does it take to make a bridal bouquet?
Sola wood flowers are an eco-friendly choice for bouquets for the modern bride. Brides (and their guests!) are often surprised by how realistic quality sola flowers look… they can be difficult to tell apart from cut flowers! But sola wood flowers have a number of advantages over cut flowers:
Whereas cut flowers have a limited lifespan that requires that the bouquet arranging be done just days before the wedding, sola wood flowers have no such expiration date. This means that you can arrange your bridal bouquet (as well as your bridesmaids bouquets, wedding florals, mother-of-the-bride corsage, flower girl basket…) weeks or even months in advance, reducing the stress and to-do list in the time leading up to your wedding.
And since sola wood flowers remain beautiful for months (even years!), your bridal bouquet will forever remain just as gorgeous as the day you walked down the aisle. This eliminates the need to pay for a pricey bouquet preservation service.
Sola wood flowers are an affordable alternative to cut flowers, especially considering that many bridal bouquets contain flowers that need to be flown in from all over the world to catch the perfect point in the growing season. Sola wood flowers come in over 150 varieties of flowers, so you can find exactly what you need for your perfect bouquet.
Wood flower bouquets are an eco-friendly way to create your dream bridal bouquet. Sola wood flowers are created from a renewable resource without the use of harsh chemicals and intense shipping distribution requirements of cut flowers.
Sola wood flowers can be dyed to perfectly match your bridal colors… which can be tricky to accomplish with cut flowers!
Now that you’ve chosen sola wood flowers to make your wedding dreams come true, let’s get started making your bouquet! You’ll want to head on over to our blog post how many flowers do you need for a bouquet for the full details!
In addition to purchasing the number of flowers recommended for your bouquet, we recommend buying a few extra flowers to allow you to experiment with your dyeing and find the perfect color for your special day! This allows you to play around with your technique and exact color without needing to use these sample flowers for the bouquet.
What basic tools do I need to make a sola wood flower arrangement?
As we mentioned above, craft paint is an easy and affordable way to dye your sola wood flowers. One bottle (which isn’t expensive!) will dye A LOT of flowers. Really.
To cut the floral wire for your stems, you’ll want a pair of clippers. Here is the link to the ones I use.
In order to add stems to your sola flowers, you’ll want floral wire. The higher the gauge number, the more flexible the wire is. We typically use an 18 gauge floral stem wire for vase arrangements as well as bouquets, but we recommend playing with a few different gauges and find your favorite.
Floral foam is great for holding the wires (stems) in place for vase arrangements and it’s easy to find at any craft store. To cover your floral foam, you can use things like paper, moss, or not cover it all depending on the arrangement!
Some folks suggest using crack filler foam (like, for house insulation), and although it’s cheaper, there are pitfalls. First, you’ll want to make sure to fill your containers only half full because it will expand A LOT. Second, once you open a can, you need to use it right away, so it’s best if you have a ton of vases to fill. The nozzle tends to be really difficult to clean for multiple applications. Third, this stuff is pretty hard to get out of the vase once it dries. So, there’s that. But sola wood flowers last forever, so that might not be a worry for you!
Hot Glue Gun
You will use the hot glue gun for stemming the flowers as well as using it to glue the flowers onto all sorts of home decor projects you come up with! We use a power Ryobi hot glue gun (really, we love this guy so much, we’ve named him Vikram), but we’re professionals and you might not have that much glueing to do in your life! Any low or high temp glue gun will work just fine for your sola wood crafting projects. High temp glue tends to be more durable than low temp glue, and we haven’t had any of our glue loosen over our many years of hot glueing.
Now this supply isn't 100% necessary but, it is one of the handiest tools while hot gluing flowers and other various projects. The silicone mat is great at catching the hot glue. Once completely cooled off you can peel the glue right off the mat and throw it away easy-peasy no mess!
We use this as a way to hold stems together while making a hand-tied bouquet. We also often use zip-ties or floral vinyl tape as great methods for holding stems together!
Ready to take your skills to the next level? Look out for Advanced tools for Crafting with Sola Wood Flowers blog coming soon!