In my previous story "Why I Gave Up Floral Foam", I shared why I eliminated the use of floral foam from our Pollen Floral Studio. Now, I’d like to share how we did it, a bit generic, geared toward florists interested in transitioning away from floral foam. I’ll focus on event design since we aren’t a retail florist. So how did we move to foam-free floral design?
We didn’t do it all at once, but we haven’t used floral foam in five years. We started with the easiest things to design without foam–low centerpieces–and continued from there until we were no longer dependent on floral foam, even with the most challenging designs.
No-foam Options for Low Centerpieces
Here are the two steps to take when you opt for no-foam low centerpieces.
1. Your Vase Selection
The easiest way to avoid using floral foam is to select vases that don’t require it. With shallow vessels like compotes, the flower stems tend to slide up the sides or pop out of the vase. Selecting a vase that is as tall as it is wide will help to prevent this from happening. We often use vases that are 5″ wide by 5″ tall or 6″ wide by 6″ tall. If we are designing in a 5″ x 5″ cylinder, we’ll place the floral tape in an X over the top of the vase to provide a bit more structure to the arrangement.
2. Chicken Wire
For our compote arrangements, we place a ball of chicken wire in the vase and place an X of floral tape to keep it in place. We insert the stems through the chicken wire, which provides even more support than tape alone. I created a video showing in great detail how I prep a vase with chicken wire. View it here: We tried using frogs several years ago for a wedding, but the event ended a bit early and the caterer started clearing the room before we got there. The caterer threw out not only our soy wax votives (which we refill) but also the flower frogs. I’m better at communicating with other vendors now to make sure they know our plans, but after that experience, I decided that chicken wire works just as well, is much more affordable, and is lighter. So, now we're chicken wire loyalists, for the most part. Syndicate Sales is offering another option, being co-branded with Holly Heider Chapple, which they are calling a 'pillow'. It’s similar to the idea behind using chicken wire but in plastic. They are designed to fit in containers also offered by Syndicate Sales. I bought a few to experiment with, but I’m not a fan of plastic, so I’m sticking with chicken wire.
No More Water than Needed
Whatever foam-free method you use, be prepared for sloshing of water while transporting the arrangements. We fill our vases enough for the stems to be in the water, but try not to have more water in them than needed, then top them off with a watering can once on-site at the venue. Going back to vase selection, I find that square vases slosh more than cylinder vases. And vases that narrow toward the top slosh less than those that don’t.
The More Challenging No-foam Designs
Some designs are a bit more challenging to design without floral foam. I’d say the most difficult designs are elevated centerpieces (florist jargon for tall centerpieces in a skinny vase), pomanders (which conveniently are going out of style), and flowers attached to structures such as arches and chuppahs.