Monday, March 25, 2013

2013: The Year Local Color Flowers Gives Up Floral Foam

You know when you set a goal for yourself (run a marathon, loose 20 lbs.) but you don’t want to tell people, because you’re afraid you’ll fail? That’s a little bit how I felt about giving up floral foam. After reading Debra Prinzing’s book the 50 Mile Bouquet, I was inspired to make the change. I loved reading about west coast designers that rejected floral foam because of poor environmental and health impacts. But I felt nervous…committed for sure…but nervous.

It’s not like we even use floral foam a lot. We don’t. But we have used it. We used it for floral wreaths, pomanders, centerpieces in shallow vessels and more.  Floral foam is great at what it does, keep stems in place and hydrated.

When I’ve mentioned to people in the past few months that we’re going to give up floral foam, they inevitably ask WHY? (and give me a kind of crazy look) There are two main reasons we’re doing this:

  • Floral foam contains formaldehyde and other carcinogens
  • Floral foam is not biodegradable, recyclable or compostable
  • Floral foam is expensive and not reusable.

As a company, we want to use LESS harmful materials, generate LESS waste and spend LESS money on “stuff”.

I knew there were alternatives to foam, especially for centerpieces, but I didn’t really understand all of them and still don’t, but I’m ready to learn.

Our first lesson came from Carol Caggiano when she came to do a training for us back in February. Carol showed us how to use curly willow and soft aluminum wire as a base to hold our stems in place.

Just crumple it up…and voilà!  the wire is reusable and the curly willow is compostable.

wire 4

Since then, we’ve used it a few times in situations where we would have used foam.  It worked great, including in this large arrangement with a very wide opening and a very shallow base.

spring explosion

It also worked great with this tiny crystal, footed bowl.


wire 2

Over the next year, we’ll do a series of blog posts any time we’re faced with a design challenge where we would normally use foam. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and our creative solutions to eliminate floral foam. Write or comment and tell us about your green practices!


  1. Good for you! So glad to hear that you're making the foam-less leap.

  2. Oh, bless your hearts! Excellent idea. I HATE HATE HATE that stuff, but the rest of my shop seems to think I've lost my marbles. Can't wait to show them the mangled ball of aluminum wire. Brilliant.

    I did just recently teach a class with large branches in urns and used chicken wire. The students, who were used to floral foam at this point, we a little taken aback, but they enjoyed the challenge. Especially when I reminded them that without foam, you get "do-overs." You can move stems around with worrying about "swiss cheese" and they all appreciated that.
    Thanks for posting this and please share any other ideas you come up with.