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.
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.
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.
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.