How to Do Japanese Flower Arranging: Ikebana

Written by michelle ullman
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How to Do Japanese Flower Arranging: Ikebana
Ikebana arrangements follow simple, pleasing lines. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Practised in Japan for centuries, ikebana is a form of floral arrangement that is very symbolic, uses a minimal number of flowers and places great importance on simple, striking lines. Ikebana focuses on a triangular formation, with three predominate flowers symbolising heaven, earth and humankind. While it takes years of study and practice to master the many schools and intricacies of ikebana, anyone can learn a few basic steps to design beautiful, Asian-inspired floral arrangements.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Shallow bowl or pot
  • Floral frog
  • Floral branches or stems in three different lengths
  • Filler flowers or stems in shortest length

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    Simple Ikebana Design

  1. 1

    Place a floral frog (a spiked holder for cut flowers) in a shallow bowl, tray or pot, near one edge of the container. Use a bowl with very simple lines, preferably one with no designs or ornamentation. Fill the bowl halfway with water.

    How to Do Japanese Flower Arranging: Ikebana
    Use a shallow, simple bowl for ikebana. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)
  2. 2

    Place your longest branch or flowers near the top centre of the floral frog, leaning slightly to the left side. This flower represents heaven. Take time to position the flower in a pleasing, graceful line.

    How to Do Japanese Flower Arranging: Ikebana
    Start with your longest branch or flower. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Place the medium-length branch or flowers toward the bottom left of the floral frog. Lean the flower towards the left, but at a steeper angle than the first flower. This flower represents earth. Step back to examine your arrangement from different angles, and adjust to please your eye.

  4. 4

    Place the shortest branch or flower on the bottom right side of the floral frog. Lean it slightly away from the longest branch. This represents humankind. Remember that in ikebana, empty space is as important as the floral elements.

  5. 5

    Fill the arrangement in with additional short flowers or greenery until the floral frog is completely covered. Remember, simplicity is key; the arrangement should have an open, angular appearance.

    How to Do Japanese Flower Arranging: Ikebana
    Less is more in ikebana. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Before placing floral materials, cut the stems on an angle while holding them under water. This will keep the flowers fresh longer.

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