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Find a location

Winnipeg

35 Airport Road, Winnipeg MB, R3H 0V5
204.632.1210
1.800.665.7378

Saskatoon

520 - 52nd Street E, Saskatoon SK, S7K 4B1
306.244.4457
1.800.667.3985

Edmonton

16455 - 118 Avenue, Edmonton AB, T5V 1H2
780.424.4576
1.800.465.8878

Calgary

Bay 5, 6320 11th Street SE, Calgary AB, T2H 2L7
403.252.5558
1.877.266.8095

Vancouver

Roseberry Square, Unit 5, 3979 Marine Way, Burnaby BC, V5J 5E3
604.630.4688
1.866.203.8607

Journal

Permanent Botanicals: Floral Design and Care Tips

Floral design with permanent botanicals, sometimes called silk flowers or faux flowers, is a great way to incorporate unique and out of season stems in arrangements. As a cost effective and low maintenance alternative to fresh florals they can be used multiple times with the proper care, and are durable, and non-toxic to pets.

Modern permanent botanical flowers are made from a range of fabrics to create different textures to appear as realistic as possible. Fabric botanicals typically have leaves and a wired plastic stem, while real-touch florals have a coating which creates the texture of a real-life malleable petal and may also come with a natural feel wrapped wire stem. Design and composition options are endless as they do not require a water source and can be manipulated multiple times without losing their integrity.

Today’s permanent botanical flowers are made from a range of fabrics to create different textures to appear as realistic as possible. Fabric botanicals typically have leaves and a wired plastic stem, while real-touch florals have a coating which creates the texture of a real-life malleable petal and may also come with a natural feel wrapped wire stem. Design and composition options are endless as they do not require a water source and can be manipulated multiple times without losing their integrity.

Cleaning

Proper maintenance of permanent botanicals ensures that you get longevity and continued quality out of your botanicals. Cleaning of both petals and leaves can be done with a damp cloth, feather duster, or compressed air. We recommend using and Silk’n Splendor Liquid Silk Plant Treatment, which is a non-toxic cleaner that removes dust and brings back the original luster of your artificial plants and floral arrangements. Its water-based, silicone solution cleans, beautifies, and protects your silk plants to maintain a natural-looking appearance for your décor and arrangements.

Storage

One of the benefits of permanent botanicals is how simple it is to store them. Store your permanent florals in a plastic storage drawer or tub large enough to avoid crumpling their petals and leaves. 

Store your permanent botanicals in a cool and dry area with as little light as possible, such as a basement. Placing permanents in light will cause the colour to fade.

Styling

Make them look as natural as possible

Style permanent botanicals to create an organic look that gives them a realistic and natural appearance. Mixing permanent botanicals with fresh florals also helps the arrangement look more realistic and organic. When you are designing an arrangement or bouquet, turn the heads of the flowers upwards so they look like they grow in the garden with their heads turned towards the sun. Remember to give the petals a good fluff. You can open some and keep some closed to imitate the stages of bloom, and to add different textures to the arrangement.  

Shorten and lengthen stems as needed

If you are planning to reuse your botanicals and do not want to cut the stems, you can bend them to achieve your desired length. If you are using glass and don’t want your bent stems to show, use good quality wire cutters like the Oasis Wire Cutters. For very thick stems use the Flower/Bush “Easy Stem Cutter” —  this cutter is a must have tool for any floral designer who works with permanent botanicals as it cuts thick stems easily without using a lot of hand force. If you are placing cut stems in a vase with water, dip the open end of the wired stem into hot glue to seal and prevent rusting. If your stem is not wired, or you need to add height, you can wire it yourself using Floratape and florist wire.

If you are planning to reuse your botanicals and do not want to cut the stems, you can bend them to achieve your desired length. If you are using glass and don’t want your bent stems to show, use good quality wire cutters like the Oasis Wire Cutters. For very thick stems use the Flower/Bush “Easy Stem Cutter” —  this cutter is a must have tool for any floral designer who works with permanent botanicals as it cuts thick stems easily without using a lot of hand force. If you are placing cut stems in a vase with water, dip the open end of the wired stem into hot glue to seal and prevent rusting. If your stem is not wired, or you need to add height, you can wire it yourself using Floratape and florist wire.

Container Arrangements

Arranging in a container is very similar to fresh florals. You can grid the container with tape, use armatures, or dry floral foam. Plan before you start designing in floral foam as once you have placed a stem in the foam it will create a hole you will not be able to repair or adjust. Gently used foam can be reused when swapping out designs. You can tape the foam or hot glue it into the container for stability. If you feel the container may be a keepsake that may be used again, place a piece of duct tape in the bottom of the container, and glue the foam to the tape.  When the time comes to change the arrangement, the tape can be easily peeled off the bottom of the container and used for another application. For longer lasting arrangements, where the botanicals will not have to be used again, you can hot glue your stems into the foam. If you are using hot pan glue you may find you have little strings of fine webbing on the arrangement from the glue, just use a hair dryer on warm setting and it will melt the glue strings away. 

Sustainable Arrangement Options

Using armature wire is a sustainable way to make faux arrangements, it comes in many colours and can be formed in infinite shapes to fit in any container that you have. You can also manipulate the wire to support the stems and hold them in place. For a more natural look you can also shape fresh curly willow or branches into an armature to hold your stems in place. Fresh curly willow will dry into the shape it has been formed in and is quite long lasting. Alternatively, you can use permanent wired branches that can also be used such as a Foam Twig Branch.

Agra Wool is also a great substitution for floral foam, it can be used wet or dry. You can usually stick the flower in the same hole again, so poking “wrong” is usually okay.

Designing with Dried Florals

Dried florals add wonderful textures to designs, they can last a long time and be reused multiple times with the proper care. Drieds can be purchased or use leftover florals to dry your own. Gather stems in a bunch, tie with a rubber band, and hang upside down in a cool dry space. You can strengthen the stems of dried florals by inserting a #22 wire through the flower calyx and bending it over for double thickness, tape with Floratape to finish.  Some of the dried florals you work with may not really have a calyx so you can use a #22 wire, bend over the top of the wire to create a little hook, insert through the top of the flower downwards so the wire runs along the length of the flower stem. Wiring dried stems also allows you to manipulate the blooms so you can create interest in the design and design the blooms as if they were still in their natural setting.  Dried flowers are usually designed in dry foam or as hand-tieds for vase arrangements.

Dried florals can often be brittle and fragile, to clean them of dust, gently use compressed air or hairdryer on a cool setting. Some dried products, like pampas, are prone to shedding. To prevent this, gently shake out and spray with hairspray.

Looking to design a bouquet with permanent botanicals? Check out our previous journal entry “How to Design a Bouquet Using Fresh and Permanent Botanicals” for a step-by-step how to.