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What is Flower Arrangement?

By Cathy Rogers
Updated May 16, 2024
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Flower arrangement is the combination of several elements to produce a visually pleasing display of fresh, silk, or dried flowers. Flowers are usually arranged in several basic designs, including vertical, horizontal, triangular, crescent, and oval arrangements. Other options include a minimal arrangement, such as the lazy “S” or “Hogarth’s Curve,” and free-standing arrangements. Hogarth’s curve is named for English painter William Hogarth who introduced designs shaped like the curves of the letter “s” into floral design.

The elements of flower arranging include line materials, which are the first pieces placed in a design to establish the overall width and height. Next, the dominant materials are inserted. These are form flowers, such as lilies, irises or peonies.

Next, arrangers place smaller mass flowers, or secondary materials, in between the dominant selections. Filler flowers are an optional next step, and special materials, such as moss or vines, can be used to add texture to an arrangement. The accent might be a focal point, such as a statue or figurine, or might be the impact of a single color. Open flowers also add an accent.

Many tools make flower arrangement easier. Dried foam can hold silk or artificial flowers in place. A “frog” is a metal device often used when dried foam will not work, such as in a clear glass vase, and it holds flowers in place between its steel pins. Glass marbles and river rock can be used to hold stems in clear receptacles as well.

A completed floral arrangement can be sprayed with floral spray paints to add special effects, and a clear sealer adds shine. Hot glue guns and craft glue are both useful for silk and dried arrangements. A pick tool crimps a metal pick onto the stem of a flower, which simplifies arranging.

Tape, clay, and floral wire are immensely helpful for flower arrangement. Floral tape covers wire and flower stems. Clay anchors foam, frogs or prongs to the container. Wire supports flower heads and also lengthens stems for easier handling.

General design principles include unity, balance, harmony, and rhythm, which often involves the use of light, space, texture, scale, and accent. When using shallow or low containers, a general guideline is to make the tallest stem approximately one to two times the length or diameter of the bowl or vase.

Different parts of the world use various design techniques for flower arrangement, with the Japanese contributing techniques such as rikka, or standing flowers; nagiere style; shoka, a linear style; moribana; and bonsai.

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Discussion Comments
By anon338622 — On Jun 16, 2013

Do you have a rule of thumb as to how many arrangements there should be per room?

By Mykol — On Apr 07, 2012

I like to decorate my home with artificial flower arrangements. This is an easy and inexpensive way to change my decorations with the seasons.

I like to buy arrangements that are already put together as I have no talent when it comes to doing this.

I have tried buying the silk flowers and doing it myself, but it never looks very professional. I like to wait until the end of the season, and buy them when they are on sale.

That way when it comes time to display them in my home, I have a new flower arrangement that didn't cost me a lot of money.

I always change the flower arrangement on my dining room table and the coffee table in the living room for each season.

By SarahSon — On Apr 06, 2012

My niece is a florist and she puts together a lot of wedding flower arrangements. Many brides don't know much about the different kinds of flowers, so they really rely on her expertise.

Many times they tell her what their colors are, how much they have to spend and let her make the choices from there.

Others know specifically what they want it to look like and which flowers they want in their arrangement.

Orchids are always popular for wedding flower arrangements, but they can be quite expensive too. She has used everything from orchids, to roses, and carnations for some of the simple, inexpensive arrangements.

She really has an eye for making beautiful arrangements with the pricing and flowers she has to work with. If it were up to me, it would be a pretty simple look of roses and some filler like baby's breath.

Even something as simple as that can look especially beautiful when you know the correct way to arrange it.

By LisaLou — On Apr 05, 2012

I have a friend who is an artist, and though she has never had any formal flower arranging classes, she puts together the most beautiful and stunning flower arrangements.

My birthday is in the spring, and one year she put together a spring arrangement that included tulips, lilacs and bleeding heart. All of these were from flowers she gathered in her yard.

The colors and arrangement of the flowers was so beautiful and it didn't last nearly as long as I would have liked it to.

She also likes to add special features that make very unique flower arrangements. If she knows you love birds, she may somehow include birds in with the arrangement.

If she is giving one to kids, she will wrap up pieces of candy and make them look like flowers to include in the arrangement.

By myharley — On Apr 05, 2012

I really didn't realize there were so many terms and specific tools that were used for flower arranging.

I have several hydrangea bushes planted around my house. About the only flower arranging I do is make a hydrangea flower arrangement when these are in full bloom.

They make a wonderful, colorful display but I don't do much more than cut them and put them in a vase and add some water.

I think it would be interesting to learn how to make beautiful flower arrangements. A fresh or silk flower arrangement can go a long ways at making a beautiful centerpiece or brightening up any room.

By anon39110 — On Jul 30, 2009

Explain what are not ikebana?

By anon3752 — On Sep 15, 2007

what is meant by a triangular flower arrangement?

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