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To foam or not to foam – What is the question about no floral foam

When florists make arrangements they usually need to use floral foam to secure their flowers and offer the flowers a water source.

This has been happening since 1954 when Mr V. L. Smithers discovered and started manufacturing Oasis® Floral foam.

The original formula of floral foam is not biodegradable and has an impact on land fill. There is some evidence that the components used to make floral foam are also not kind to the environment.

Hence there is a slow and steady ground swell of resistance from the florist community to avoid floral foam all together and find alternatives to Oasis® foam.

In response to the landfill issue Smithers Oasis® have recently developed a new product called OASIS® Floral Foam Maxlife which has been tested and is said to be biodegradable in 567 days. So possibly this may be a reasonable response to the environmental issues that floral foam causes but still there are many florist that wish to use “no foam” at all. Is 567 days a reasonable solution? I guess it’s a start in the right direction at least.

Before I go on, I would like to ask a simple question: What did everyone use before Mr Smithers developed Oasis® foam in 1954? So what are the alternatives to using floral foam in flower arrangements?

Certain trends are emerging which are a response to using no floral foam.

Many florists prefer to offer bouquets and market bunches rather than making arrangements in floral foam. Floral arrangements in vases are becoming extremely popular and these do not need floral foam.

If we look back at techniques used to make flower arrangements and floral structures prior to floral foam, chicken wire was a popular base structure used not only in floral bouquets but in container style floral arrangements. The chicken wire creates a structure that flowers can be easily pushed into and kept in a form and structure. At Koch & Co we have developed specific widths of chicken wire to better suit the florist.

A series of arrangement pillows and bouquet holders which are similar to chicken wire holders have been developed by Holly Heider Chapple. These do not use any floral foam, are made of plastic and can be recycled.

Ikebana flower arranging uses a “kenzan” or flower frog as a base to press flowers onto nail style spikes. A kenzan is available in a number of shapes made from a heavy metal base with a series of nail like spikes on them. They can easily be washed and reused but are not great when wanting to transport flower arrangements.

Spanish moss can be formed into pillows and/or balls and can be used as a base to insert flowers instead of floral foam. Usually moss provides a stunning result but is another time consuming operation

The down side to some of the above mentioned techniques is the time taken to work with either moss, chicken wire or kenzan’ s may not be as effective as using floral foam.

So the question still remains whether or not we can completely avoid floral foam in the florist industry and how many florist will eventually become floral foam free?

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