Floral Design 101 :: Prepping Containers

Pin Cushions, Kenzans, Floral Frogs:
-Floral frogs work in an assortment of containers; tall, narrow and shallow dishes
-Fresh water to the flowers
-Creates a natural and loose arrangement
-They can be re-used

-Personally, I don’t always find them easy to design in
-They can be expensive per piece
-Not always easy to find in bulk on short notice

They come in a variety of sizes:

Simply place the flower frog in the vase, some vases may need some of that floral goop (can’t think of the name??)

Each flower is given breathing room and can fall naturally from the design:

Chicken Wire:
-This is my new favorite for creating a grid, it’s very quick!
-Inexpensive to buy a roll of chicken wire, cheaper than floral frogs at least
-Incredibly easy to prep vases with chicken wire
-Holds flowers securely in place for transport
-Creates a loose styled arrangement
-Flowers can drink fresh water

-Doesn’t work in clear vases, need a container that camouflages

Containers lined up and being prepped:

You can see how nicely the chicken wire holds each flower in its place and spreads them out a bit:

Ranunculus taking shape, each has some breathing room.

You can see how nicely the roses are spaced as are the ranunculus and peonies. I did not use any chicken wire in the baby’s breath vase:

This part of the arrangement was created with an Oasis 6″ Sphere, chicken wire would not work in the slender vase and I wanted to create a very rounded arrangement of peonies:

Tape Grid:
-Best way to grid a clear glass container, no mechanics show
-Works on a variety of odd-shaped vessels
-Doesn’t hurt the containers
-You can decide how tight or loose of a grid you’d like to have
-Transports great, flowers rarely shake loose out of this grid
-Fresh Water to the flowers

-More time consuming to prep than chicken wire or pin frog

Works great on a shallow dish:

Prepping lots of cube vases:

Arrangements quickly take shape with this type of grid:

The final arrangement, stems showing in vase:

Floral Foam:
-Works in a variety of shapes, including these very shallow lomey trays
-Holds flowers securely in place for transport
-Necessary in a lot of large scale designs

-Bad for the environment, it doesn’t decompose
-Bad for us to inhale the dust that comes off the dry bricks
-Time consuming because they have to be glued into containers
-Costly between the floral foam and glue prices
-Flowers can get ‘clogged’ up and not drink in the water
-Many flowers do not like it at all, including stock and hydrangea

Prepping 95 lomey dishes with floral foam:

Glue pan with pellets melting:

The finished design, a little bit of foam goes a long way in creating a good sized centerpiece:

Curly Willow Grid:
-Great for achieving a natural designed arrangement
-Quick to prep containers

-Takes some practice to get used to designing into the curly willow and creating tension to keep flower stems in place
-Can be time consuming
-The rustic look isn’t for all clients
-Promotes bacteria growth in the water

Related posts:


  1. Not a fan of spiral hand tie? We find it faster than any “grid” method, uses less product/foliage, spiral stems look beautiful in clear container and best of all easy to change water (that one stray leaf can be tough to remove from the water with a tape grid!) and survives delivery best! Works in all but the shallowest dishes too. Plus our “green” sensibilities are pleased that all materials are natural(we use raffia or jute cord to tie).

  2. This is a GREAT post and even though I have learned all of the above methods over time, it’s good to have a well organized refresher! Thank you!! Oasis should be a last resort as we learn more about it’s impact of florists and our environment, but sometimes it truly is the best or only option. I also remember having to purchase a large number of pin frogs for an event and make a big investment, but I am glad I have that box full now when I need it. Thanks again!!!

  3. Great post, Alicia! Love the pictures…thanks!

  4. Good post – thanks for the reminders…I have yet to work with a frog for an event…I do love how it looks though! I love this series! Thank you!!

  5. Great post Alicia! I occasionally use my grandmother’s floral frogs. Have you ever tried using excelsior for your grid? It holds up well in water without decomposing.

  6. I like Oasis. I know that it has many flaws, but I find it the best way to create almost any arrangement. This is a great post! What do you think about the spiral hand-tie fan?

  7. mollys mom says:

    I like to use all these , just depends on what I am doing. I have never tried the excelsior but we do use a natural dried product called angel vine that works great for a grid. it does have the rustic look which doesn’t work for everyone. don’t forget the option of covering up the grid with a aspidistra leaf(or tea) wrapped inside vase before you put in your grid,keeps it clean looking…..

  8. Great post! I do sustainable floral design and we are always coming up with eco-friendly alternatives to toxic floral foam. Love your curly willow balls, and in fact curly willow actually has a slight antiseptic property so it will help prolong the life of the flowers.

    Another great strategy we use often is to cut disks from wire mesh and fit them into mason jar lids. You can see some lovely instructions here: http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/how-to-make-mason-jar-flower-frog-lids-tutorial. It’s quick and cheap and works like a charm!

  9. Colonialhouseofflowers says:

    Interesting. Love your posts!

  10. I started in a flower shop in 1959. Chicken wire in the vases was all they ever used for mechanics. It works well, but it can be frustrating too – as the wires are not very flexible and if you crumple too much of it into the vase, it won’t work.

  11. Love this post and all the comments! The face of Floriculture is changing, one designer at a time. 40 years ago nobody could have predicted the power and momentum the Quit Smoking movement would take on- but look at us now! Obviously I can’t liken working with foam to smoking- not exactly, the truth is it does contain formaldehyde and other carcinogens. My opinion is it’s a completely unnecessary risk. Yes, it’s a great tool- but we can change the game so that it’s not so widely used, not every arrangement requires foam. Most require we get a little more creative- at best, win, win! The biodegradable, earth/floral designer/patron friendly version is coming soon, until then- we can help educate ourselves and our clients about the inherent health risks and long term environmental effects of foam. If they know why you’re hesitant to use it, they’ll understand there are alternatives to the giant, opulent, foam fest designs they see in the magazines.

  12. naturegirl says:

    I have used the hardware cloth that Ann Sensenbrenner talks about more than chicken wire. And it comes in various hole sizes. Easier to reuse than chicken wire, too (if needed) because the wire is stronger.

  13. What did you use to wrap the jars with? The wooden effect?