Ikebana DIY: Step-by-step Japanese flower arranging

Flowers are the root to happiness. That’s the bloomon motto! It’s not just us that believe it either. Ikebana, the ancient Japanese flower arranging technique, is built on the philosophy of capturing natural beauty to gain self awareness and, ultimately, happiness.

“The whole universe is contained in a single flower”

– Toshiro Kawase, Japan’s leading modern Ikebana Master

This simple step-by-step Japanese flower arranging guide from Anton van Duijn, our head floral stylist and ikebana master, comes straight from the workbench at our special workshop in Amsterdam. It honours the origins and core principles of ikebana (more about that here), whilst giving it a modern twist!

Grab a cylindrical vase, some fresh, seasonal blooms from your bloomon bouquet, and a sharp knife. It’s time to get lost in the spirit of ikebana!

Step 1

Fill your vase ⅓ full with fresh water. Add a drop of bleach to keep bacteria at bay, this keeps your flowers fresher for longer.

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 1

Step 2

To create the spare, off centre composition of an ikebana arrangement in a vase with a wide opening, begin by making a brace about 5 cm below the rim of the vase. Cut a strong (woody) stem to the width of the vase – make sure it’s a snug fit.

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 2

Step 3

Repeat and make a cross. Make sure the two stems are sturdy in the vase. This is the frame for your ikebana arrangement. Choose one segment to work with and arrange your flowers only in that quarter to create that minimalist Japanese look.  

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 3

Step 4

Pick your first stem. Hold it by the vase, see how it looks – where will its natural form and shape be accentuated? Remove any leaves below the rim of the vase. Cut 1 cm off the stem at a sharp angle, so that it can absorb the water well, and place it in the vase.

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 4

Step 5

Choose your next stem. See how it looks next to your vase – try out different heights and angles. Cut the stem to size at a sharp angle and put in vase. Anton used clematis, its soft purple petals complement the woody branch as an opposite.

Tip: Aim to create different lengths in your arrangement and use flowers that complement each other

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 5

Step 6

Add some height – representative of heaven and hope in ikebana. Anton uses an allium as the highest point of his design. Three stems look beautiful as is, or, serve as a base to add more flowers to. A golden rule for ikebana is: less is more.

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 6

Step 7

Another golden rule is: asymmetrical balance. Choose another stem. Its texture and form should be opposite, but balanced with the other flowers. Anton has added a lotus seed pod, it’s large smooth surface is the In (yin) to the feathery allium’s Yo (yang).

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 7

Step 8

Repeat the process of adding stems by first seeing how they look and feel in your arrangement. Cut the stem at a sharp angle and place in vase. It doesn’t matter how many flowers you use.

Tip: Anton’s arrangement uses vertical stems with a lot of height. You can also add flowers low at the front, or cascading over the edge of the vase. Be playful! Feel happiness with the elements.

Step 9

Space is important in ikebana. Not just emptiness, but an integral element of the design.  

A pro tip from Anton to create more space is to manipulate a flower stem – change or accentuate its natural bend. Warm the the stem in your hands and gently bend the stem to the direction you’d like. Don’t force the stem, otherwise it may snap.

DIY Ikebana Japanese Flower arranging - Step 9

Step 10

Have a look at your arrangement from different perspectives. Close up. Far away. From the left and right. How does it feel? Are you happy with its form? Don’t be afraid to move, remove or trim back flowers and foliage. This ikebana arrangement is a reflection of how you feel at this moment. There’s no right or wrong!

Step 11

Check that all your stems are submerged in water in your vase. If not, add more water the vase. A thirsty flower is not a happy flower!

Step 12

Find a nice viewing spot for your flowers, somewhere uncluttered so that the focus is on the arrangement. Take in its beauty and savour the moment or serenity.

Flower arranging is an art that makes your creativity bloom

The most important thing to remember when arranging flowers is to have fun in the moment. The spirit of Ikebana is always present when working with flowers. Let your creativity roam free in the process!

Speaking of creativity – our new spring bouquet collection is launching VERY soon! Get ready to colour your world with surprising fresh stems and creative designs.

Stay tuned!

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