The Basics of Flower Arrangements

The art of flower arrangement originated in the East. It is the Chinese who first started arranging flowers in water containers. The culture reached Europe in the 17th century. The Chinese attributed certain elements of characters and luck to flowers. For example, narcissus is the symbol of wealth, cleanliness and good luck while pine boughs indicate nobility and wisdom. The Japanese developed this art as a meditative practice.

The Chinese way is to express the elements in relating to space and nature, while Japanese styles embodied icons of mankind, heaven and earth. "Ikebana" is the Japanese word for flower arrangement. Unlike in the west where the beauty of the bloom is the accent, the ikebana celebrates leaves, stems and the vase. Ricca is the most formal style of ikebana and aims to express the nature. In this arrangement, the vase usually measures 20 to 30 cm and should flare at the top with clean stems of the plants rising out. Nageire is an informal arrangement. Moribana is the style on which the beginners usually start. A flat or dish shaped vase is used to view it from all sides. The main stem is about 1.5 times the vase diameter plus its height.

The flower arrangement is considered as an art. You must know the basics to arrange flowers in the vase. It also requires ideas and imagination to have a beautiful flower arrangement.


The location of your flower arrangement is an integral part of the whole process. To emphasize the piece, you can either manipulate the natural light or arrange for artificial lights. If situated under bright lights, the whole piece will be brought to the fore. To draw attention to certain aspects only and to create shadows, use spot lights. Coloured bulbs will enhance the beauty and brightness of the flowers of different colours. The texture of the used flowers and foliage play an important role. For example multi textured flowers like hydrangeas go very well with large and smooth leaves that provide a simple contrast.


A large flower arrangement may look out of balance with a small vase. The rule generally followed is that the stems should be 1 to 2 times longer than the vase.


Do not leave empty or vacant space in the arrangement. Placing a few large blooming flowers either above or below the arrangement will give a special accent to the piece and make it alive.


Maintain balance between dark and lighter flowers, as well as large and smaller ones. The arrangement can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical as required. Some colours like orange and red attract attention and make the piece appear closer. Light colours like lilacs and blue recede to the background. Placing them at the far end of the room from the entrance, lighter coloured flowers can make the room look longer.


All items in the arrangement such as flowers, foliage, the container and other accessories should go together to appear as a single display. Give the whole arrangement a harmonious correlation by avoiding repetition of colours.


Picking up the right flowers in conformity with the occasion and place where you intent to keep the arrangement are very relevant. Sprinkle some water on the flowers, before you arrange to make them look fresh. Soak the floral foam well in advance. Cut flower stems with a sharp knife under running water in a 45 degree angle. Avoid overcrowding of flowers. Allocate each flower enough space to maintain the shape of the arrangement. Utilize natural curves in the foliage and flowers to enhance the aesthetic appeal.

Finally, circumnavigate your piece to get an overall view of the arrangement, to correct defects if any.

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