The following are a list of possible combinations you can use to make an ikebana arrangement. There are ideas for each season, and there are some combinations that can be used year round, meaning these materials can be found in your flower shop all year round. If they don’t have the materials you would like to use, don’t be afraid to ask your florist if they can order it for you. Many times, they will be more than happy to help you out.

The first material listed is the Subject.
The second material listed is the Object (sometimes more than one option is given for the Object – choose the one you like best).
If there is a third material listed, it is a Filler material.

Rising Form

Two materials:
Flowering plum, mustard flower
Flowering dogwood, anemone or stock or prairie gentian
Tulip, carnation or stock
Larkspur, sweet pea or gerbera daisy
Flowering cherry tree, daffodil or carnation or rose
Flowering redbud tree, daffodil

Three materials:
Fennel, sweet pea, baby’s breath

Two materials:
Allium sphaerocephalum, prairie gentian or dahlia
Cattail, sunflower
Iris ochroleuca, rose or sunflower
Allium gigantium, sunflower

Three materials:
Agapanthus, prairie gentian or carnation or rose, lace flower
Liatris, rose or dahlia or carnation, baby’s breath
Japanese iris, thistle, baby’s breath

Two materials:
Scotch broom, Dendrobium phalaenopsis or cockscomb
Mahonia japonica, cockscomb
Curcuma, rose or dahlia
Chestnut tree, prairie gentian

Three materials:
Pampas grass, cosmos, Great Burnett
Toad lily, dahlia, Great Burnett
Kangaroo paw, gerbera daisy, dracaena godseffiana

Two materials:
Iris, sweet pea
Sword fern, sweet pea
Young pine, chrysanthemum or pincushion
Siberian dogwood, stock or rose
Flowering quince, chrysanthemum or mustard flower
Mitsumata, poinsettia or rose or gerbera
S. sachalinensis “Sekka”, chrysanthemum or rose

Three materials:
Pussy willow, rose, baby’s breath

Year Round
Two materials:
Calla lily, rose or carnation
Bird of paradise, dracaena “Song of India” or “Song of Jamaica”
New Zealand flax, rose or carnation or chrysanthemum
Trumpet lily, rose
Dendrobium phalaenopsis, stock
Bird’s nest fern “Emerald Wave”, gerbera daisy

Three materials:
Liatris, rose, baby’s breath

Inclining Form

Two materials:
Euacalyptus, snapdragon
Tulip, foxtail fern (Asparagus cochinchinensis)
Thunberg’s spirea, sweet pea or anemone or rose
Sword fern, anemone or carnation or Ranunculus
Freesia, foxtail fern (Asparagus cochinchinensis) or sweet pea or rose

Three materials:
New Zealand flax, rose, baby’s breath (Gypsophila)
Monstera, carnation or rose, misty blue or lace flower

Two materials:
Italian ruscus, carnation or gerbera daisy or rose
Kookaburra, sunflower or pincushion
Allium sphaerocephalum, prairie gentian
Snake plant (Sansevieria), begonia or geranium
Gladiola, sunflower or dahlia

Three materials:
Anthurium, rose, baby’s breath (Gypsophila)
Sandersonia, Gloriosa, lace flower

Two materials:
Toad lily, small chrysanthemum
Chestnut, cockscomb or dahlia or gentian
Gloriosa, kuroton
Japanese rosehip, cockscomb or rose or Oriental lily

Three materials:
Bittersweet, gentian, small carnation
Quince (with fruit), cockscomb, spray chrysanthemum

Two materials:
Kangaroo paw, rose
Fasciated willow, amaryllis
Bare branches, Asiatic lily or Oriental lily
Flowering quince, chrysanthemum or ping-pong chrusanthemum
Pine, spider chrysanthemum or rose

Three materials:
Pussy willow, gerbera daisy, Asparagus myriocladus
Palm fern, lily, Solidago

Year Round
Two materials:
Dracaena godseffiana, gerbera daisy or anthurium
Dracaena “Song of India”, rose
Bird’s nest fern, rose or carnation or chrysanthemum

Three materials:
Sword fern, Dendrobium, baby’s breath (gypsophila)

Conditioning and preserving the life of your materials

Flowers are a living thing. Even after being cut, they still seek water and food. Mizu-age, literally “water raising”, is a method used to help flowers, branches, and different plants to absorb the water needed to prolong the life and beauty of your arrangement.

If you buy flowers from a florist or flower shop, you don’t have to worry about this process. They take special care when the flowers arrive from their suppliers and use the different mizu-age techniques that will be explained below. But, if you are lucky enough to have flowers and branches in your garden, or you buy flowers from a flower market or farmer’s market, giving the materials a little extra care before arranging them will prolong their life and the enjoyment you receive from your arrangement.

Each flower has a specific way in which it absorbs food and water, so the techniques used for each will vary. The techniques are simple and can be mastered in no time.

How To

When cutting in the garden, for all flowers and branches, cut the stems longer than you think you will use them. Cut them at a 45 degree angle to expose more of the surface of the stem and place them in water as soon as possible. If you will be out in the garden for a while, take a bucket of tepid water with you and place the stems in the bucket as you cut them. If you plan on buying flowers at a farmer’s market or flower market, it is a good idea to take a bucket or some type of container of water with you so the flowers will have some nourishment as they make their way home with you.

Try to choose a variety of sizes in your materials. Choosing buds, or flowers that are just beginning to bloom, along with flowers more open will give your arrangement more variety and add to the beauty of the overall work. When choosing branches, try to keep in mind what type of arrangement you are going to do, and choose branches with interesting lines and shapes to enhance the arrangement.

After bringing the materials inside and before you arrange your ikebana, it is time to give them a little extra care, time for mizu-age.

For all materials, you will want to re-cut the stems and branches after bringing them in. Cut about an inch from the bottom of the stem. Remember to cut at a 45 degree angle to expose as much of the stem as possible, and cut the stems under water. This prevents the material from taking in air and making it difficult to absorb water. After re-cutting the stems, place them back in a bucket with fresh, cool water, making sure to remove any leaves that might be under the surface of the water in the bucket. Place the bucket in a cool, dark place for at least a couple of hours, or overnight if you are not in a rush to use them, to help the flowers acclimate to being inside. For most flowers and materials, this is enough to help the flowers flourish and prolong the beauty of your arrangement. However, some materials require a little extra attention before letting them acclimate to being inside.

Boiling the stem
Wrap the upper part of the materials with newspaper, leaving only a couple of inches of the bottom of the stems exposed. This protects the materials from the boiling water and steam. Place the end of the stems, about an inch, in the boiling water, making sure not to touch the bottom of the pan, until the stem changes color. This can take anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, depending on the material. Immediately place in cool water and let the stems rest as explained above.
Effective for rose, carnation, snapdragon, hollyhock, sunflower, delphinium, dahlia, cockscomb, herbaceous peony, amaranth, chrysanthemum, stock, lily, prairie gentian, etc.

Burning the stem
Burn the bottom inch of the stem with the flame of a lighter or match until the surface is carbonized. Immediately place in cool water and let the stems rest as explained above. This method is used for materials that excrete a milky substance when cut and is more effective than boiling the stem in water.
Effective for poppies, hollyhock, sunflower, zinnias, thistle, Chinese bellflower, tree peony, herbaceous peony, geranium, orchids, etc.

Crushing the stem
For woody stems and branches, crushing the end of the stems with a hammer or splitting vertically an inch or two up the stems helps with water absorption. Immediately place in cool water and let the stems rest as explained above.
Effective for forsythia, crab apple, dogwood, azaleas, lilac, camellias, Japanese quince, hydrangea, flowering trees, etc.

Using chemicals

Burnt Alum
After crushing the end of the stem as explained above, open up the end with your fingers to increase the surface of the material. Spread burnt alum on a dry surface or in a small bowl and rub the burnt alum into the crushed stem. Immediately place in cool water and let the stems rest as explained above.
Effective for materials whose stems have a spongy center, like hydrangea, tree peony, ivy, sunflower, etc.

Peppermint Oil
Squash the base of the stem with your fingers to flatten the end. Dip into peppermint oil for a second or two. Not only does this disinfect the stem, but also helps to stimulate the material to absorb water. Immediately place in cool water and let the stems rest as explained above.
Effective for clematis, Japanese quince, aster, burnet, Chinese bellflower, Thunberg’s spirea, etc.

After cutting the stem, dip the end of the material in vinegar for three to five minutes. Immediately place in cool water and let the stems rest as explained above.
Effective for grasses, like Japanese pampas grass, reed, and giant reed.

After cutting the material, spread salt on a dry surface or in a small bowl and rub the salt into the cut. Immediately place in cool water and let the stems rest as explained above.
Effective for materials that become slimy then they are cut, like sunflower, Chinese bellflower, thistle, etc.

Ikebana - Japanese flower arrangement

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Ikebana Online Lesson

Ikebana is the ancient Japanese art of flower arrangement

The practice of ikebana can also be a meditative process

The time spent in communication with the materials in ikebana provides a respite from today’s stressful and busy lives

Ikebana is different from Western floral arrangements in its use of empty space and asymmetrical forms
Please have lots of fun in ikebana