Floral foam is a group of products used in flower arrangement and sometimes related crafts. Using floral foam allows even novice florists to create good-looking designs and gives master florists the option to create complex, beautiful arrangements that last a long time. However, using floral foam incorrectly can give very poor results and waste both the foam itself and the flowers that are used with it. Floral foam is generally affordably priced, but there is no sense in unnecessary waste, and cut flowers can be very expensive. Unfortunately, not all published advice on using floral foam is good advice. When in doubt, people should consult the manufacturer or an experienced florist. Using floral foam well, and particularly using dry floral foam well, requires knowing what the different types of foam are for, and how to use associated products, such as the right glue and floral picks, to create beautiful floral arrangements.
What is Floral Foam?
Floral foam is a specialised type of small-cell hard foam. Oasis, the name of a popular brand of floral foam, is sometimes incorrectly used as a generic term. Floral foam is used to hold in place the flowers and the other elements of an arrangement, such as ferns or candles. The foam is soft enough that flower stems can be poked into it, but firm enough that they do not easily slip out again. There are two main types of floral foam, called wet and dry, respectively. Both are sold in several different grades and colours. While there is some overlap in the usage of these different foams, forgetting the differences between them could have bad results.
Wet Floral Foam
Wet floral foam is so called because it is designed to be used when wet, although it is sold dry. Wet foam not only supports the arrangement elements but also keeps the flowers watered. It is important to hydrate wet floral foam correctly to avoid trapping air within the foam. Pre-poking holes for flowers, or removing and then reinserting the flower stems, can also damage the foam. Damaged or improperly hydrated wet floral foam cannot deliver water to flowers. When hydrated, wet floral foam can be cut and shaped with an ordinary knife, but when dry it is usually too fragile to be worked with easily. The small foam cells can crush and powder.
Dry Floral Foam
Dry floral foam is not designed to water flowers and it cannot absorb water well. It is heavier and stronger than wet floral foam is, so it can be cut and shaped when dry. It is designed primarily for supporting arrangements of artificial or dried flowers, though it is also sometimes used for temporary arrangements of live flowers for events such as funerals or presentations where avoiding the mess of dripping water is more important than flower longevity.
Styrofoam is also often used as a dry foam in flower arrangements and is an older option than the small cell wet and dry floral foams. Styrofoam is more difficult to work with, since it is much harder than other floral foam and can also be chemically dissolved by some types of glue. However, Styrofoam is still used because it is available in a wider variety of shapes and sizes.
Floral Foam Grade
Both wet and dry floral foam are sold in three different density grades. Standard or ideal grade works well in most circumstances, but softer, weaker flower stems can sometimes bend or break when pushed into standard foam. For these flowers, there are lighter, softer foams available, often called springtime foam. Using this type of foam avoids pre-cutting holes for flower stems, which is not a good idea, even with dry foam, because the pre-cut hole is not exactly the same size as the stem, allowing it to wobble and possibly fall out.
If, for whatever reason, standard grade foam must be used, a wooden floral pick wired to the stem can help support weaker flowers. On the other side of the spectrum, large, heavy flowers may fall out of standard foam because of their weight. These larger flowers require the support of a heavier grade of deluxe grade foam. At any given grade, dry foam is denser and heavier that wet foam is.
Colours and Shapes of Floral Foam
The standard colours for all types of floral foam are green, grey, or, for dry foams, beige. These colours work well because they easily blend in with the colours of ferns and flower leaves and stems. While many flower arrangements are designed to hide the foam, floral foam does not have to be completely hidden as long as it is not a distraction. Some brands also offer a much wider variety of colours, including red, orange, and pink. Wet foams typically come in a wider variety of colours than dry foams do.
Floral foam of any type is usually sold in a block roughly the shape and size of a brick, which can be easily cut to shape using an ordinary knife. Foam can fit inside vases to stabilise flowers, and can also be taped to shallow bowls and stemmed platters, allowing flower arrangements to sit above, rather than inside, their supporting surfaces. Floral foam is also sold in a variety of other shapes, including wreath bases, spheres and standing spheres, topiary forms, crosses, hearts, and even high heeled shoes and purse shapes. All of these novel shapes support specialty decorations, including those that hang on stands and do not have vases or basins at all.
Choosing Dry Floral Foam
Buying floral foam involves deciding what type and grade of foam to buy, and settling on a shape. Related products, such as floral tape, may also be necessary. Although dry foam is generally meant for dry arrangements and wet foam for live arrangements, there are circumstances where the uses of the two types of foam overlap.
Choosing Floral Foam Type
Even buyers who are planning to use dry foam for a project might sometimes choose to buy wet foam. The reason is that while wet foam can be used when dry, dry foam cannot be hydrated. Therefore, buyers who rarely use floral foam and need only a small amount might do well to purchase wet foam. That way, the leftover foam can later be used for either wet or dry arrangements.
That being said, unhydrated wet foam is not only delicate, it is also very lightweight and might be difficult to keep stable. One should use floral tape to hold the foam in place, but do so with care so as not to crush the foam. Selecting lightweight dried flowers for these arrangements can help make up for the weight and strength difficulty of wet foam used dry. In other circumstances, for dry arrangements, one should use dry foam if it is available in the appropriate shape; otherwise, use Styrofoam.
Choosing Dry Floral Foam Shapes
The shape of the floral foam piece to be used depends on the needs of the project. Any arrangement based on a vase, dish, or other container, can be made using the basic blocks of floral foam, which can be cut and shaped as needed. Wreaths and other displays meant to be hung on stands, such as memorial crosses and hearts, do better with pre-shaped foam forms.
Some centrepieces, especially dry centrepieces, work better with pre-shaped forms as well, if a container would be visually distracting. A very wide variety of shapes is available, from simple spheres and half-spheres to cones for making miniature Christmas trees. Finally, there are several different types of bouquet bases, or stakes, with plastic or wooden handles. These stakes can also be used as decorations, attached to pews by their handles, set in the sand for beach weddings, and similar applications.
Other Florist Supplies and Accessories
Projects that use floral foam may also need a number of other related supplies. Floral tape is an inconspicuous green colour and, once applied, it is waterproof. Floral stakes can be attached to flower stems with wire so that they can poke into foam more easily. Floral adhesive, which can be used cold, without damaging live stems, hot glue and glue guns, and Styrofoam glue may all be helpful, depending on the materials being used. Floral clay is an adhesive that helps attach heavier elements, such as candle holders. For adding live flowers to dry arrangements, one should try using plastic flower tubes, the kind that hold water, with spikes on the end, which can stick into dry foam or Styrofoam.
How to Buy Floral Foam on eBay
Buying through eBay is simple and convenient, since a wide selection of many different types of items is available through the same site. Getting the most out of the shopping experience is usually just a matter of communicating with the seller clearly. Some shoppers may also appreciate a few tips on finding items through eBay.
Finding Dry Floral Foam on eBay
Typing 'floral foam' into the search box on the home page is a good way to start searching. Use the menu options to narrow the results as much as possible before browsing. Be aware that floral foam may be listed as Oasis on eBay. Use the Advanced Search option to go quickly to something very specific.
Buying Floral Foam on eBay with Confidence
If there is any question about the foam or other product being bought, simply ask the seller. There is a contact link on the seller's profile page, along with other useful information, such as his or her feedback score and return policy. Make sure to reread the product listing before buying so as not to buy dry floral foam in the wrong size or grade by mistake.
Flowers are used as decorations on many occasions, from weddings to funerals to birthday parties. A flower arrangement makes a wonderful birthday surprise or a great pick-me-up on a bad day. An arrangement of dried flowers makes a perfect permanent decoration, since dried flowers do not fade or wilt and can sometimes last for decades.
Floral foam is used to support many different types of flower arrangements. Dry floral foam specifically is used for arrangements of dry or artificial flowers, or for arrangements of live flowers that are only intended to last for a few hours. Dry floral foam helps beginners complete attractive, professional-looking arrangements relatively easily and allows professionals to construct complex arrangements that would not be possible otherwise. When shopping for dry floral foam, buyers should select a grade, colour, and shape that is appropriate to the size and type of the project. While floral foam can only be used one to three times before it begins to seriously deteriorate, a dried flower arrangement can last for years, meaning a very small amount of foam can go a very long way.