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Florist's foam and other secrets of the flower arrangers.

Florist's foam and other secrets of the flower arrangers

Making an attractive bouquet is easier with the help of special supplies. At nurseries, hardware stores, and florists, you can equip yourself with the items that professionals use to arrange flowers.

One of the basics is florist's foam. This lightweight, spongy material holds water and keeps flowers in place. It comes in several grades: the softer ones are particularly good for flowers with delicate stems. You can buy the reusable foam at some craft supply shops or from a florist; a 4- by 9-inch block costs 80 cents to $1.25.

If you have a shallow container like the one shown above, it's often easier to make an arrangement if the foam is slighly higher than the vase. This allows you to angle the flowers easily and gives you more latitude with short-stemmed flowers. To hold the foam in place, use two strips of transparent or green waterproof tape as shown above right. Apply the tape to dry surfaces.

If you are using the foam in the bottom of a tall vase, cut the piece so that it wedges tightly into the vase; otherwise, the foam will bounce to the surface even when it's saturated. A craft saw eases the job of cutting the foam, but a kitchen knife will also do the trick. Some professionals use wire to cut the foam.

Traditional frogs

Heavy metal frogs, like the needle and grid types shown above, range in diameter from 1/2 inch to 8 inches (the larger ones aren't widely available). Although trickier to work with than foam, they're a more attractive choice for clear containers. In general, the needle holder allows more flexible positioning than the grid. Floral clay helps stabilize both kinds.

Stones or glass marbles give an attractive effect in glass containers, but make sure they don't crush the stems.

For long-lasting bouquets

To extend vase life, use sharp shears to cut the blooms. Pick them in the early morning or evening when they're not stressed. Before arranging, fill a broad bowl with water and recut the bottom inch off each stem while holding it under water. Immediately transfer the bloom to your vase. Either add a commercial preservative to the water or mix one part lemon-lime soda (not a diet type) to two parts warm water.

Photo: To dampen foam, let it sink on its own. Pushing down causes the foam to capture air bubbles, without speeding saturation

Photo: Flower-arranging supplies: 1. Florist's foam 2. Craft saw 3. Waterproof tape 4. River stones and glass marbles 5. Floral clay in block and roll 6. Needle and grid frogs 7. Shears 8. Flower preservative

Photo: To hold stems in position, she uses a block of florist's foam that's taller than her container. The foam is stabilized by waterproof tape attached to plastic liner inside basket
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jul 1, 1986
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