Foam Free Floral Design: Part I | 4 min read

Did you know that Bracken & Berry is a proudly foam free floral designer? In this month’s journal release, I will delve into our design philosophy, including our thoughts on floral foam and the alternative mechanics you can expect to see in our designs. Particularly as we work towards our wedding and events release, it is important that we shed light on our design process and the techniques that make our designs possible be they dried or fresh.

In a previous journal release, I have discussed at length floral foam from a cost-gain analysis with a particular focus on its environmental implications. If you would like to learn more about the pros and cons of floral foam, you can refer to the article here. However, to briefly review, floral foam in its most common form is a green absorbent brick that provides both a reliable water source and structural support for floral designs. The use of floral foam has become controversial in the cut flower industry due its environmental concerns. Floral foam is a single use plastic that breaks down into microplastics as it degrades in water. These microplastics are often mistakenly discarded where they journey through our waterways, resulting in ongoing ramifications for marine life and humans alike.

Brick of floral foam oasis.

As our previous journal release demonstrated, any discussion of floral foam is multifaceted and more complex than simply reducing it to its environmental trade-offs. Floral foam is extensively used in the cut flower industry to this day and there are several arguments in its favour. At Bracken & Berry, we choose not to work with floral foam. We appreciate that this position may not be achievable for every flower business; however, for us, foam-free aligns with our business values and design intention. Wherever possible we want to reduce waste and minimise single use plastics and removing floral foam from our practices has had a considerable impact. On a personal level, I have never enjoyed working with floral foam; it’s something of a personal pain point or pet hate. As a material, floral foam is course and fibrous to the touch; it sheds fine green particles that can be easily inhaled and are challenging to dispose of correctly. Lastly, as the lead creative at Bracken & Berry, I enjoy the challenge and ingenuity of designing without foam. There is no question that foam enables florists to create a myriad of designs with relative ease, but the mechanic itself is rigid and flower placement is stilted and inorganic. By contrast, foam-free structures, while requiring more time and effort to prepare, allow greater freedom to create spacious, organic shapes where placement is in keeping with the natural habit of the flower stem.

In part one of our foam free design discussion, I will explore the alternative mechanics we use in our flower arrangements. From fresh to dried, you can expect to see one or a combination of the following mechanics in our vase designs.

Pot Tape Grid

Pot tape is a floristry staple known for its strength and waterproof effectiveness. Although pot tape is a single use sundry, it is economical and, by comparison to floral foam, straightforward to discard. When designing in clear glass vases or odd shaped vessels, a grid of pot tape creates the initial structural support to build a floral design.

Clear vase with pot tape grid support.   Vase arrangement of pink toned fresh flowers.

Chicken Wire

Before there was floral foam, there was chicken wire. An oldie but a goodie, a structure of chicken wire creates the foundational nest that allows for effortless flower placement. For event flowers, chicken wire structures can be re-moulded and re-used.

Ceramic vase with chicken wire structure.   Dried flower arrangement featuring colourful florals in a ceramic vase.


Kenzans are a floristry mechanic originating from the Japanese Ikebana tradition. Kenzan translates to ‘sword mountain’ and is commonly known as a spikey frog in modern floristry terms. A kenzan has a weighted metal base with elongated spikes attached, which is adhered to the bottom of a vase or vessel and reused time and time again. For designs supported by a kenzan, the space between the flowers is just as important as the flowers themselves.

Bowl with kenzan flower frog insert.   Bowl design featuring pink nerines.

At Bracken & Berry, we love to create spacious, organic designs with a romantic and whimsical feel. Whether working with fresh or dried florals, the foam-free mechanics featured above allow us to create beautiful, natural shapes in our signature style. In part two of our foam free design discussion, we will share the mechanics and structures we rely upon to create our bespoke wreaths as well as a sneak peek at our soon to be released event installations. Stay tuned for more…

Where do you stand on floral foam? Any questions or insights? Please comment below.

Tess xx

Back to blog

Leave a comment