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Pinning down perfection: Elevate your floral arrangements with a kenzan


If you’ve ever wondered how professional florists create those stunning, minimalist arrangements, chances are they’re using a kenzan. A kenzan is a Japanese floral frog that is used to hold stems in place in an arrangement. In this blog post, I will explore the benefits of using a kenzan and how to use one in your own floral arrangements.

Benefits of using a kenzan

One of the main benefits of using a kenzan is that it allows you to create a natural-looking, unstructured arrangement. The kenzan holds each stem securely in place, but still allows you to adjust the height and angle of each stem. This creates a more organic and dynamic look, as opposed to a rigid, symmetrical arrangement.

It is also an eco-friendly alternative to floral foam, which can be harmful to the environment.

How to use a kenzan

To use a kenzan, start by filling a shallow container with water. Place the kenzan on top of the water, with the pins facing up. Next, trim the stems of your flowers to the desired length and insert them into the kenzan, using the pins to hold them in place. Start with the larger flowers and work your way towards the smaller ones, filling in any gaps as you go. Once you’re happy with the arrangement, you can adjust the height and angle of each stem as needed.

Tips for using a kenzan

  • Use a container with a wide opening to allow for a more natural-looking arrangement.
  • Use a plastic top (such as a margarine container lid) to put under the kenzan in the container. This avoids stains or scratch to your vase.
  • Trim the stems of your flowers at an angle to help them absorb water more easily.
  • Some flowers are better because of their thicker stems. Dahlias for example have perfect hollow “bamboo-style” stalks.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix different types of flowers and foliage in your arrangement for a more interesting and dynamic look.
  • Experiment with different heights and angles to create a more natural, unstructured look.
  • Remember to keep the water in the container fresh and change/add it every few days to ensure your flowers stay healthy and vibrant.

How to choose a kenzan

Choosing the best kenzan depends on several factors, including the type of flowers you plan to use, the size of your container, and your personal preferences. Here are some tips to help you choose the best kenzan:

  • Consider the size of your container: The size of your kenzan should match the size of your container. If your container is too small, the kenzan may be unstable and cause your arrangement to fall over. If your container is too large, the kenzan may not hold the stems securely.
  • Look for a kenzan with sharp, sturdy prongs: The prongs of the kenzan should be sharp enough to pierce through the stems easily and hold them securely in place. The prongs should also be sturdy enough to support the weight of heavy flowers and foliage.
  • Choose the right shape: Kenzan come in different shapes, such as square, round, or rectangular. Choose a shape that fits your container and the style of your arrangement. For example, a square kenzan may be better suited for a more structured or geometric arrangement, while a round kenzan may be better suited for a more organic or natural-looking arrangement.
  • Consider the material: Kenzan can be made of various materials, including stainless steel, brass, and lead. Stainless steel is a popular choice because it is durable, rust-resistant, and easy to clean. Brass and lead are also good options, but they may require more maintenance to prevent tarnishing and corrosion.
  • Check the weight: The weight of the kenzan can affect the stability of your arrangement. If the kenzan is too heavy, it may cause your container to tip over. If it’s too light, it may not hold the stems securely. Choose a kenzan that is heavy enough to provide stability but not too heavy to cause any problems.

Where to buy a kenzan

This is a common question that I am asked when discussing the use of a kenzan on my Instagram account.

Consider buying a kenzan as a long-term investment. You can find kenzan for sale at various places, including online stores, floral supply shops, and specialty stores that sell Japanese art and culture products, even at flea markets or thrifts stores. Here are some suggestions for where to buy kenzan:

  1. Amazon: Amazon offers a wide variety of kenzan from different brands, sizes, and shapes. You can also read reviews from other customers to help you choose the best kenzan for your needs.
  2. Etsy: Etsy is an online marketplace that features handmade and vintage items from independent sellers. You can find unique and artisanal kenzan in various styles and materials.
  3. Floral supply or craft stores: Local floral supply stores often carry kenzan, as well as other floral arranging tools and materials. Check with your local flower shop or online florist for recommendations. Beware of buying the best quality and the best size for your needs.
  4. Japanese specialty stores (including online): If you’re looking for authentic Japanese kenzan, consider visiting a specialty store that sells Japanese art and culture products, maybe specialized in ikebana. These stores may also carry other ikebana-related items, such as vases and books.
  5. Your local ikebana school or club: This is a great place to acquire great material, including vases. I bought my largest kenzan from our Montreal club at a very reasonable price. You may also want to consider attending a class or demonstration by a master to learn more about ikebana and improve your skills.
  6. Flea/thrift markets, second-hand stores, antique shops: These places may be more challenging than buying from a retail store or online. When buying second-hand kenzan, make sure to inspect the item for any damage, such as rust or bent prongs. If the kenzan is in poor condition, it may not work effectively or could damage your flowers. Make sure also to compare the price with the cost of buying a new one. This said I have found great ones while thrifting.

Types of floral arrangements using a kenzan


Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, which emphasizes minimalism, simplicity, and the use of natural materials. It is also known as kadō, which means “way of flowers.” Ikebana has a long history, dating back to the 7th century when floral offerings were made at Buddhist altars.

In Ikebana, the arrangement is not simply about putting together a bunch of flowers, but rather it is a form of artistic expression that involves creating a harmonious composition of flowers, branches, leaves, and other natural materials. The arrangement aims to express the essence of the materials used and the relationship between them, as well as the space around them.

There are various schools of ikebana, each with its own philosophy and techniques. However, all schools follow some basic principles, such as the use of negative space to create a sense of balance and harmony, the use of asymmetry to create movement and dynamism, and the use of a prescribed number of elements to create a sense of unity.

Although my husband has taken extensive classes in ikebana many years ago, very few of the arrangements I create with flowers from my garden are “ikebana-in-spirit”. My collection of kenzan and ikebana vases is quite extensive, and I enjoy using them to create arrangements in various styles.

Other types of arrangements

A kenzan can be used in a variety of flower arrangements beyond ikebana. I keep in mind the trend towards non-floral foam arrangements and often use a kenzan in my compositions as a reliable anchor, sometimes in combination with chicken wire. A kenzan can be used in various types of vases, including unconventional containers. I even use a kenzan placed in an insert inside a tall vase to support shorter stems and keep them straight and elevated.

Using a kenzan in a flower arrangement allows for greater control and stability in the placement of each stem. This makes it ideal for arranging delicate or heavy flowers, as well as those with a tendency to droop. The kenzan also allows you to create an asymmetrical design, making it a popular choice for contemporary and artistic floral arrangements.

In conclusion, using a kenzan is a simple yet effective way to create stunning floral arrangements that look natural and unstructured. With a little practice and experimentation, you can create beautiful arrangements that showcase the beauty of your flowers and foliage. So why not give it a try and see how a kenzan can elevate your floral arranging skills to the next level? The following are more of my arrangements posted on Instagram using a kenzan.

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