Handy Ikebana Tips

Help preserve plant materials

  • When plant materials are brought home, cut stems underwater to prevent air from entering them and interfering with water absorption. Keep in water until ready to use, then cut underwater to desired lengths.
  • Cut stems at an angle to increase the area of water absorption.
  • Split ends of woody stems into four parts to aid water absorption and to facilitate pushing thick woody stems into a kenzan.
  • Burn the ends of milky stems over an open flame or dip into boiling water.
  • To keep tulips standing upright in an arrangement, use a quart of water mixed with a jigger of vodka or rubbing alcohol and toss a few pennies into the vase.

Support floral stems in a narrow vase

  • Scrunch up a piece of coated chicken wire and place inside vase to provide support for stems.
  • Use a kubari stick that is cut to size so it wedges tightly within the top of the vase opening and provides support for the floral stems. In its simplest form, the kubari can be just a straight stick or a Y-shaped stick. You can use a natural Y-shaped branch or make a slit in a single branch to create a Y-shape.
  • To wedge large arrangement branches in place, cut a deep slit at the end of your main branch. Using a sturdy piece of fairly straight branch section that is cut to fit inside the length of your vase, make a deep slit at the bottom end of that branch section. Interlock the cut ends of both branches and position inside the vase, arranging them together so that your main branch sits at the angle you desire and is wedged securely in place.
  • Fill the narrow opening of your vase with thin straws that have been cut a bit shorter than the length of your vase. Insert stems of your flowers inside the hollows of the straws.


  • To keep thin stems in a kenzan in place, wedge a small twig next to the thin stem to help support and hold it in place between the kenzan needles.
  • To keep kenzan from tipping due to the weight of a heavy branch, secure the kenzan in place by positioning a second kenzan upside down along the lifting edge of the kenzan.
  • To use a kenzan in a basket, place a medium-sized kenzan into a clean tin can, fill it with water, and place tin can into the basket

Make room for the butterflies A simple reminder that empty spaces within an arrangement is as important an element as the floral materials themselves.