25
Jun
2013
8

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. 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.
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.

General tips for handling floral foam:
– Store in dry and cool place, avoid direct sunlight.
– Clean hands after handling foam.
– Do not inhale dust.
– Do not swallow foam.
– Store in low area to avoid eye contact.

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 and you can also watch our step by step video on how to soak floral foam.

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 floral 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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48 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?

  11. Dorothy

    Hi, I’m planning to use floral foam to create a table centrepiece but wanted to clarify some concerns after reading about the safety precautions and the msds on floral foam. I can use gloves and mask while handling foam and making the arrangement. Once it is soaked and all the flowers are placed in it, will there still be any risks of dust particle inhalation? Also once its on the table, it will be in close contact to food, is it safe to have food around wet floral foam?

    1. Koch

      Hi Dorothy, thank you for your question. Flower arrangements using wet floral foam that are placed on tables as centre pieces are very common at weddings and events. Once the floral foam is wet, there should be no dust. If you wish to take extra precautions, once the foam is wet, wrap the floral foam in thin plastic like lunch wrap and pierce your flower stems through the plastic.
      We hope this helps and please let us know if you have any other questions.

  12. Dorothy

    Hi, Thank you for your response. Just another question, the msds also mentioned fumes from floral foam can cause irritation and other side effects. I have a guest which is quite sensitive…so will these fumes still be present after the foam has been wetted?

    1. Koch

      Hi Dorothy, there should be no fumes once the product is wet.
      You can air the foam for a few days to be extra careful if you like.
      Most floral foam may have fumes for several days after manufacture and over time, these fumes dissipate to a very negligible or non-traceable level.

  13. Maigan

    Hi there! I was just wandering if you have any tips for using oasis for roof installations. Or if you recommend it at all? Just wanting to make sure nothing falls out once it’s upside down! Thanks.

    1. Koch

      Hi Maigan,
      Thanks for the enquiry.
      We assume by roof installations you are going to use the floral foam for arrangements that hang down from the ceiling.
      We would recommend using Floral foam in cages such as these. The cage structure will help hold flowers and foliage more efficiently. In some cases, you may need to wire large stemmed items to the cages.
      You will then need to pay special attention on how you secure this to your ceiling. Some florist often use cable ties.
      We hope that may be of some help.

  14. Ann

    I will be using Oasis Sahara II Dry Foam to create a silk/real touch floral centerpiece. Is the top or bottom of a dry foam brick better to use for floral stem insertion?

    1. Koch

      Hi Ann, thank you for reaching out to us. We do not sell Sahara II Oasis Dry Foam. Unlike wet floral foam, dry foam is more tolerant and you could use either side for stem insertion.
      We hope this helps.

  15. Eve

    Can you re use floral foam – it was used for a silk flower arrangement before. I want to make another arrangement using silk flowers – would wetting it shrink the previously made holes.

    1. Koch

      Hi Eve,
      Thank you for reaching out to us. Wetting dry floral foam is not recommended as its physical properties are totally different from wet floral foam.
      Unfortunately there is no way to fill in the gaps previously made by other stems in a floral foam block (wet or dry). The holes made by your previous arrangement may have weakened the foam block and it may not be as stable as a new block. We would recommend using a new block for your new arrangement.
      We hope this helps and you can read further details in our other article titled “When Should I Use Wet or Dry Floral Foam?”.

  16. Charlene

    I’m planning on doing a funeral tribute (anchor) for my nans funeral, how many days before the funeral do I need to soak the oasis ( do I soak the oasis the day before the funeral) and how long do I need to leave it to drain after soaking. Thanks

    1. Koch

      Hi Charleme, thank you for reaching out to us. The soaking process of a floral foam block takes approximately 1 minute and you can soak the floral foam just before arranging your flowers.
      To properly soak your foam, gently place the floral foam on top of the water (it will float at first) and let it sink by itself. Make sure not to force soak the foam as any air pockets left in the brick will reduce the water for your flowers.
      When your foam has completely submerged on its own, it will darken in colour and is ready to use. There is no need to drain it.
      We hope this helps.

  17. Aleksandra

    Hi Koch , Love your work <3

    I am trying to create some floral arrangements for my wedding. Recently i saw mix flower arrangements with fresh and silk flowers.

    The question is " Which foam do I use in this case?"

    1. Koch

      Hi Aleksandra, thank you for your nice comments and congratulations on your wedding coming up.
      For an arrangement mixing fresh and artificial flowers, we recommend using wet floral foam so that your fresh flowers can get the water they need.
      However, wet floral foam is softer than dry floral foam and the artificial flowers might make it crumble a little.
      We hope this helps and we look forward to seeing your arrangements on social media!

  18. Heidi

    Hi I have had an arrangement of a butterfly done with fresh flowers in foam for my daughters memorial. When the fresh flowers die, can I put artificial flowers in the foam so I can then keep it.

    1. Koch

      Hi Heidi, many thanks for reaching out to us. The simple answer to your question is “yes”. There are however many factors that may not allow you or limit you depending on the status or condition of the foam once you have removed the fresh flowers. The best idea is to take the shape and cut the same shape out of either dry floral foam or Styrofoam sheets. Then use artificial flowers to copy your butterfly arrangement. You may possibly want to engage the services of a professional florist to ensure you achieve your outcome. We hope this helps.

  19. Michelle

    Hello!

    I’m looking to use floral foam as part of a pr package. Is it safe to make an arrangement and then mail it?

    Furthermore, is it safe to place other packing materials such as packing peanuts or foam forms on top of the floral foam?

    1. Koch

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for reaching out. It depends if you are using wet or dry floral foam. If you are considering dry foam with artificial flowers then you will not have a problem with any other packaging materials you wish to use. I would not recommend mailing a fresh flower arrangement which has been made in wet floral foam. I would also not be too confident in using other packaging materials around wet floral foam as the water could change their composition.

  20. Abi

    Heya! Great post, looking forward to working with floral foam!

    I’d really appreciate your advice – I am looking to create a moss pole to provide a structure for my cheese plant. Somebody online suggested wet floral foam as the core for this, wrapped in Sphagnum Moss and bound. I’m thinking of skewering a few blocks of floral foam onto a bamboo pole or similar and creating a pole in this way.

    The water retention would be great for providing the humidity and keeping the moss wet, but do you think floral foam works as a long term solution? I would not be looking to repot for another couple years after this, so need something that’s going to work as effectively then as it does now! Is there a risk of disintegration of the foam?

    Thanks!

    1. Koch

      Hi Abi,

      Thanks for reaching out to us.

      Wet floral foam has a shelf life of about 12 months depending on the storage conditions.
      A brick of floral foam will hold water if it is soaked correctly (see soaking instructions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4H8T803Zfs)
      If the brick is kept with the imprint on the brick facing up, after soaking you can continue to add water and it will take up more water.
      The brick however can easily dry out after several days if you do not top up water.

      With regards to your proposed use, if you use wet bricks vertically, the water will run out of the bricks over time.
      Your top bricks will be dry and bottom bricks wet.
      I can only assume that the moss should help and slow down this process.
      The brick may disintegrated or wear out over some time depending how often you are touching it.

      I hope this response is of assistance and please feel free to contact us any time.

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