Foam-Free Floral Design: What’s It All About? | 4 min read

Any discussion concerning foam-free floral design should first seek to clarify what is floral foam as well as expand upon the reasons for its common usage in the floristry industry. In today’s world, we tend to work in absolutes; that is, something is either good and acceptable or bad and marginalised. With the valid increase in environmentalism, floral foam is one such industry practice that falls under the later.

So, what is floral foam? Simply put, floral foam is most recognised as the green water-absorbent bricks that serve as a convenient water source for fresh flowers.

Green Oasis Brick of Floral Foam.

Floral foam has wide applications across the floristry industry for several reasons:

  1. Adaptability: foam can be cut to accommodate any vessel and is made in all shapes and sizes to suit any design need.
  2. Reliability: foam provides a reliable water source that ensures flower longevity as well as holds stems firmly in place. Since its invention in the 1950s, floral foam has forever changed the floristry industry, in particular, the wedding and events industry. As foam both keeps flowers alive and holds stems securely, the logistical obstacles to constructing large scale event designs are significantly reduced. Foam can be positioned in all manner of angles, enabling florists to create the most complex event designs with ease.
  3. Efficiency: compared to foam-free alternatives, such as chicken wire, designs using floral foam are generally more efficient to construct. Floral foam requires minimal effort to prepare and is a relatively easy mechanic to use in design. Given its ease combined with fewer logistical issues for construction, floral foam reduces construction time and the subsequent labour costs incurred by the client. For example, a hanging installation made with floral foam or foam-free mechanics would have significantly different considerations for construction.

Floral foam has become something of a contentious topic; nevertheless, any reasonable discussion should seek clarity from both sides of the argument. It’s important to acknowledge the beneficial features of floral foam as there are valid reasons why foam is extensively used industry-wide to this day. However, the benefits of floral foam are not without their costs, and this is a truth that all floristry business owners must acknowledge and reconcile for themselves. While floral foam is adaptable, reliable, and efficient, it is far from a perfect solution and its environmental trade-offs are undeniably detrimental. Floral foam is an insidious form of plastic that breaks down into minute particles called microplastics. Water used to soak floral foam is often disposed of down sinks, making its journey to waterways where it is consumed by marine life. From there, the cycle of plastic inevitably finds its way back to us along the natural food chain.

The trend towards ‘no floral foam’ is just one facet of the sustainable floristry movement, albeit a very significant one. At Bracken & Berry, we choose not to use floral foam in our design practices, but we understand that this may not be practical for all businesses in our industry. As floral artists, we are conscious that our medium of flowers are derived from nature. In alignment with our business values, where possible, we seek to minimize our environmental impact. Foam-free alternatives that you can expect to see in our designs include chicken wire structures, pot-tape grids, and kenzans also known as spikey frogs or flower frogs.

Foam-free vase preparation with chicken wire and pot tape.   Foam-free hanging botanical installation in progress.
Vase featuring pot tape grid preparation.   Kenzan used in foam-free floral design.

Ultimately knowledge is key. As we know better, we do better. For florists and flower lovers alike, there are countless opportunities to discover more about foam-free and sustainable floral design. From industry organizations, such as the Sustainable Floristry Network, to esteemed floral designers offering their own educational platforms, there have never been more ways to learn and upskill. One thing I know to be true: once you go down this rabbit hole, a new level of creativity awaits.

What are your thoughts on floral foam? Let me know in the comments.

For more info:

sustainablefloristry.org/blog-index/aboutfloralfoam

londonflowerschool.com/journal/the-world-before-floral-foam

Tess xx

Did you know that bespoke dried floral designs are our specialty? We would love to create a one-of-a-kind foam-free design just for you! Click here to browse our current range of bespoke design offerings.

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