25
Jun
2013
3

The Benefits of Floral Foam

Floral foam is really helpful for creating a beautiful and professional flower arrangement. Using it properly can allow you to create floral compositions that would otherwise be really difficult to support. In addition, floral foam extends the life of your flower arrangements by giving them a reliable and steady water source. Here, we’ll take a look at exactly how to use floral foam, what floral foam does and cover some commonly asked questions regarding its use.

What is Floral Foam?

Simply put, floral foam is a dense, lightweight and porous material that can be cut into virtually any shape. It holds its shape when wet and provides both water and support to your cut flower arrangements. The density of floral foam means that it holds large quantities of water, which in turn, increases the life of your flowers. It also provides increased support to the flower stems, giving you more control with your arrangements.

In addition, floral foam is pH balanced. This means that the acidity of the environment which the flowers are placed in remains at the optimum level ultimately helping your flowers to last. Another important feature of floral foam is how quickly it will soak and absorb water.

Floral foam was invented in 1954 by the Smithers-Oasis company in 1954. The Oasis® Brand of Floral foam products are internationally recognised. Koch & Co have developed the Strass® Floral Foam brand as another great option for the Australian florist market. Strass foam products are a proven and economical alternative to Oasis® Floral Foam, and give great results. Click here for more information about our Strass foam.
foam brick

Safety Precautions 

Most floral foam is made from phenolic foam. This synthetic substance is made from a variety of materials, including carbon black and formaldehyde. These substances are toxic, so it is important to take care when handling floral foam. It is recommended to avoid exposure by wearing gloves and avoiding contact with your skin. Eye masks can be used to avoid irritated eyes if dust is excessive. If you are shaping floral foam yourself, make sure the area is properly ventilated and wear a dust mask to ensure you don’t inhale any foam particles.

Why Use Floral Foam?

Some arrangements, such as those in a traditional vase, don’t need foam. However, by using foam you can create fantastic flower arrangements which, without a strong base, couldn’t be supported. Foam spheres, for example, allow you to create amazing hanging floral compositions. Round forms are great for show-stopping centerpieces, and specialty shapes such as crosses and funeral bats are wonderful for creating beautiful arrangements for funerals and many other religious occasions.

Floral foam not only gives you the base for these arrangements, it allows you to provide a steady water source for flowers by holding water within the foam. This extends the life of cut flowers, giving both you and your customers more value.

How is Floral Foam Used?

Using floral foam is very simple. Here is a step-by-step guide.

First, with either a pre-made shape such as a wreath or table deco or one you’ve cut yourself, soak the foam in water until it is fully saturated. When soaking, follow these simple rules:

• Make sure you choose a soaking container that’s big enough to accommodate the entire piece of foam you’re working with. You don’t want any corners or edges sticking up out of the water.
• To properly soak your foam, resist the urge to dip it into the water. This seems logical, but actually creates air pockets which can cause flowers to dry up ahead of schedule. Instead, gently place the floral foam on top of the water (it will float at first) and then sink into the water.

The entire process only takes about a minute. Make sure you wait until the entire brick has soaked, as any air pockets left in the brick will reduce the water for your flowers, and therefore, reduce their life. When your foam has completely submerged on its own, it will darken in colour and is ready to use. Once your foam has soaked, either place it on a waterproof work surface or in whatever container you’ve chosen for your arrangement.

If you’re using a woven basket or other non-waterproof container, you’ll want to line it first with plastic or use a plastic flower bowl & guard to prevent drips. A flower bowl & guard will give you a water proof reservoir and plastic cage that will support your flower arrangement. (Though floral foam is very absorbent and will hold nearly all the water it soaks up, waterproof containers are a sensible precaution to take. You can also use plastic liners, where possible. Fortunately, forms that don’t allow for a liner, such as a sphere, generally do not drip.)

Next, arrange flowers as you would in a vase, pushing each stem into the foam to the desired depth. Foam is wonderful for creating dramatic tiered arrangements, because stems can be staggered, or pushed in to different depths.

Floral arrangement in a ceramic pot.

Create floral compositions that would otherwise be impossible to support using floral foam.

Different Shapes for Different Occasions

One of best things about floral foam is the wide variety of shapes available. This variety provides a world of creative possibilities. Some of the most popular florla foam shapes include bricks, round flat pads and spheres. Other varieties of floral foam include crosses, specialty bridal bouquet forms, cages and trays for large altar or stage arrangements, and wreaths which can be used flat for centerpieces or vertically for beautiful hanging bouquets. Remember that bricks are easy to cut with everyday florist tools and can be shaped into whatever form you require. Try coloured floral foam bricks or cubes in contemporary arrangements where you do not need to cover up or hide the foam.

Get Creative

Once you’ve mastered the basics, floral foam is a great way to get creative with your work. You’ll get tons of inspiration from the variety of pre-made shapes available, but don’t stop there. By cutting and shaping your own forms, you can make truly one-of-a-kind creations which add long-lasting beauty to any occasion.

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28 Responses

  1. Koch

    Hi Kate

    Foam that has been soaked and then left to dry can’t successfully be used again for fresh arrangements. If you’ve soaked too much some people keep the extra piece moist in a plastic bag and manage to buy some time that way. You can also use left over pieces in the base of larger containers to place fresh foam on top of. Good luck with your arrangements.

    Thanks,
    Ali

    1. Koch

      Hi Debbi,

      We did a bit of digging around this but most florists’ we talked to were happy to use roses and didn’t exclude any flowers outright. Interested to hear of your experience though. Let us know how you get on if you do use them!

      Koch & Co

  2. gay dawson

    What can i do to avoid the oasis being seen in a clear vase and what can i do to avoid the small pieces of oasis getting in my vase of water.

    1. Koch

      Hi, we have a few popular products to help florists hide floral foam within a vase. There’s a clever waterproof ribbon that mimics aspidistra leaves, that can easily be wrapped around the inside of your glass vase and stays put. We also have a range of glass vase decor, like stones that can be placed around foam blocks. Regarding small pieces floating around, our in-house florists recommend the gentlest of touches when placing the blocks as floral foam is a very fragile open-celled material. It should be handled very gently when dry to avoid crushing those small cells which then can break off into water. Hope that helps!

  3. Rhonda

    Hello , have just started flower arranging as hobby and loving the store , however I read oasis is very bad for the environment and it does not break down and the small particles effect wildlife like birds who can digest. is there another option anywhere? Is there anything else I can put in a vase to support and hydrate flowers?
    Thanks
    Rhonda

    1. Koch

      Hi Rhonda, firstly congratulations on taking up a new hobby! We certainly hope to see you in store more often.

      For certain arrangements and situations there will be no alternative that give as much support or hydration as floral foam does. Whilst floral foam is not biodegradable, it can reduce down to sand-like granules over time minimising its impact on landfill.

      With vase arrangements there are some great alternative solutions you can try.
      • For flower support, make a lattice pattern on top of your container with tape and slide your flower stems through the grid. If tape does not provide enough support you can also try chicken wire loosely folded over which sits lower in the container (provided the container isn’t clear). Additionally you can include a kenzan (pin cushion) at the base for extra support.
      • For hydration the options are limited and it usually requires a container with fresh water if no floral foam is used. Using flower food preservatives such as floralife will help to hydrate and prolong the life of your fresh flower arrangements.

      We hope this helps answer your question and you find a solution that works for you.

  4. Rhonda B

    Dear Koch ~ I am doing the flowers for my daughter’s wedding. I have ordered the oasis spheres – I want to place them on top of a tall tulip vase. Once I soak the spheres I put them securely on top of the vase – do I have to have water in the case or will there be enough water in the sphere so I don’t need to? Also, how far in advance do you recommend making the arrangements: the day of or day before? Will they drip if they are suspended without a container? Any professional advice is appreciated. I’ve done a lot of floral arrangements but this is an important event.
    Thank you,
    Rhonda B

    1. Koch

      Hi Rhonda, congratulations on your daughter’s wedding. We recommend arrangements to be made the day before without a container. Fill a clean tub with a measured amount of Floralife® Fresh Flower Food and place the foam onto the top of the water and allow the foam to float freely down into the water. Water the sphere again before arranging your flowers. On the morning of the wedding day, water the sphere again and spray the flower petals to keep them hydrated. As long as you don’t water the arrangements 2-3 hours before the event, they shouldn’t drip. You don’t need to have water in the vase. We also recommend you take the type of flowers and weather into consideration, as that will affect how much water the arrangement needs. Best of luck, Aimy

  5. Rhonda B

    Thanks Aimy, your advice is greatly appreciated I am doing a trial run today I feel confident it will be lovely.

    Rhonda B

  6. Ila amin

    Hello Koch,
    What size foam should I use for 4 ft long fresh flower arrangements to put on top of alter?
    Please advice me by email.

    1. Koch

      Hi Ila,
      You can use two of the Strass Deco Brick with Plastic Cage Double (46x11x8cmH), item: 5002ST plus one of the Strass Deco Brick with Plastic Cage Single (23x11x8cmH), item: 5001ST which should fit up to 4ft long of fresh flower arrangements. Hope this helps, Aimy

    1. Koch

      Hi,

      The primary role of floral foam is to help keep fresh flowers hydrated and sturdy in their vessel, which in turn extends their freshness and life. External factors such as the type of flower, indoor/outdoor conditions, light exposure etc will play a part in how long fresh flowers lasts for with floral foam, which is why we can’t determine the exact number of days. Hope this helps.

      Regards,

  7. Penny

    I wish to stack large then smaller foam balls over a clay pot filled with foam. Boxwood and carnations inserted. Using a wooden dowel for support. Will the wet foam in the flower pot support the topiary or should I fill the pot with plaster of Paris?

    1. Koch

      Hi Penny,
      Sounds like a wonderful arrangement! We would love to give you some advice. Would you please tell us a bit more about it? How tall will your tower be and are the flowers fresh or artificial?

    1. Koch

      Hi Jeanette.
      This is the first time in over 20 years that we have had a question like this about floral foam.
      To my knowledge, mould does not usually form on floral foam.
      How long have you had it in water?
      How clean is your water or container?
      Are your plants or flowers harbouring any mould?

  8. Fran Macdonald

    Hi!
    I have some old blocks of florist foam that are now a little bit beyond reusing (they resemble a block of swiss cheese!)
    What is the best method of disposal? I’m concerned about their water retention properties when in landfill…

    1. Koch

      Hi Fran,
      It sounds like the foam has lost its properties to absorb water.
      Under the microscope, the foam is like honey comb.
      So if you squash it, say by step on it, you will crush the cells and hence bring the product back to powder more or less.
      Then you can safely dispose with your regular waste.
      We hope this helps.

  9. Marcia

    Hi
    I have quite a lot of florist foam left over after making a number of table centrepieces. If I were to break the coam into small can I work the foam into my garden soil?

    I look forward to reading your reply..

    1. Koch

      Hi Marcia,
      Thanks for reaching out to us with you question on floral foam.
      Floral foam is not biodegradable because the main ingredient is a type of plastic. We suggest that you crush the foam into and throw it away.
      You could mix into garden soil as a type of filler as it is not harmful to plants.
      We hope this is helpful.

  10. Hi – I am using shaped floral foam bricks to mount to a wall to form the logo of a store. I’ve melted glue and dipped the back of the bricks in that to create a solid surface to mount screws into, but the issue I am facing is that the foam is dripping. I rarely use floral foam and was under the impression that it was created not to drip, but it is. Do you have any recommendations for me? Thank you!

    1. Koch

      Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for your interest.

      I am assuming you are using wet floral foam for fresh cut flowers or foliage.

      Wet floral foam behaves much like a sponge and when over soaked it will drip.
      You may wish to let the foam sit a while to let any excess water drain out.
      Face the side without the glue towards your table or surface for the excess water to escape.
      Let us know if this helps?

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