Ikebana Materials (Indoors)

Ikebana Materials (Indoors)

This month’s topic is on indoor plant materials the ikebana practitioner can use for arrangements.  These plants may be grown in the practitioners home, or in some cases, even outside if they live in a warm enough climate.

The above plant–sansevieria–is a good straight-line material.  Sometimes, it can be used as a curving-line materials depending on its growing conditions.  It comes as variegated and non-variegated.  It is very hardy and has few pests.  One can propagate it by simply cutting the leaf from the parent plant and putting it in water.  Eventually, it will root and then one can plant it in a pot.  

The plant to the left is the alocasia plant.  As one can tell, it has dramatic leaves.  Not all alocasia plant leaves look the same.  The leaves can be in different shapes and of different colors depending on the plant.  But all of them are dramatic. The stems may have a curve to them or they can be more or less straight. 

I’ve not worked with this plant much so I’m not able to say how long the leaves last after cutting.  And I don’t know how fast growing the plant is. Regardless, it is a dramatic plant.

The anthurium plant is one of my favorite mainly for the splash of color that the flower offers and how long the flower lasts (weeks).  The flowers come in red, orange, yellow, white, lavender, pink, green, salmon, blue and black.  And the leaves are a

glossy green.  However, the plant is slow growing.  And it is a vine-like plant so the stems get wobbly after a while and eventually fall over.  They require bright indirect light to do their best.  And they like high humidity.  After cutting, the leaves and flowers last a long time.

The xanadu philadendrom is a dramatic plant.  The juvenile leaves are smaller and not as segmented.  The more mature leaves are significantly larger and heavily dissected.   The leaves have long stems 

which can be more or less straight, have a slight curve or be sharply curved.  It is very hardy and does well in full sun as well as bright indirect light.  However, one needs a lot of space for this plant as it likes to reach out well into the room it is in.  Also, the leaves last a long time.  The cut trunk roots easily in water. 

The foxtail fern is a plant that offers a totally different texture for flower arrangements.  It is part of the asparagus fern family though due to its growing pattern appears more solid.  The other more common asparagus ferns have a much more light appearance.  It likes 

bright indirect light and is easy to grow.  The stems may prove to be difficult to use in a kenzan (needle holder) if the needles in the holder are too far spaced apart.  But, “booties” (pieces of thicker stems with hollow centers in which the thinner stems are held) should help with placement in the kenzan.

The kalanchoe plant produces clumps of smaller flowers.  The colors are red, magenta, pink, orange, yellow, and white.  The flowers can be a single or double flower.  Some kalanchoe flower stems can get to be 50 inches long, but unfortunately, the flowering plants which are most common are the smaller variety and the flower stems on

them are much shorter.  The other issue with these flowers are that they are heavier than other flowers which may make it more difficult for maintaining placement. 

The monstera philadendrone is another dissected-leaved plant which produces large leaves.  The leaves may be as small as 6-8″ across, but may be as large as 2′ across.  The stems can be as thick as an inch across.  They are, of course, good for very large arrangements, but if one cuts the leaves 

down in size, they may make a very dramatic smaller arrangement.  The whole leaf for example can be cut into a smaller square or the whole leaf can be cut down the middle with only half of the leaf being used.  There are other things the ikebana artist can do in order to reduce their size for an arrangement besides cutting such as folding the dissected parts of the leaves on itself.  Some arrangements may have the leaf folded under the container for a dramatic effect.

This unusual fern is called by many different names: Japanese crinkle fern, or the Japanese crispy wave fern.  The leaves are thicker and more rigid compared to the other ferns that are used in arrangements.  And it is slow growing.  It needs a continuously moist soil and bright indirect light.  However, they can make 

for a dramatic arrangement due to the texture of the leaves.  They don’t give the “lighter” look that other ferns do.  This plant may not be easy to find in some areas of the United States market.  

This Boston fern is a very common plant in this area of the country and readily available. It adds a light, airy feel to the arrangements it is used in.  The stems are thin and therefore are not well supported in the kenzans (needle holders) which have needles to far apart to hold the stems.  The plant likes bright, 

indirect light and moist soil.  It tends to shed brown, dried parts of the fronds and therefore require more time to keep its area clean.  Due to its lightness, it is not uncommonly used with glass containers.  It grows relatively quickly.

The aspidistra plant has leaves which are one of the favorite items to be used in ikebana arrangements.  The light, thin leaves with their flowing nature and sturdy stems allows for them to be put in arrangements at acute angles to the horizontal without problems maintaining their position.  The leaves 

may also be manipulated in many different ways to draw the viewer into the arrangement.  They are relatively inexpensive and they last a long time.  The plant is also call the cast iron plant.  It is not commonly sold in stores, but is a plant that wholesalers can get.  It does not do well in direct sunlight, and will do well with a northern window.  It is a low maintenance plant that has been reported to do well with neglect.

The areca palm is another plant that can do well in low light.  It does best in bright indirect light.  The soil needs to be kept moist, but not soggy.  The fronds can be used as they are naturally found, or they can be manipulated such as braiding of the parts of the leaves, cutting the leaves into certain 

shapes or removing parts of the leaves.  The plant my not be easily found in stores. It can also add a flowing lightness to the arrangement.

The nephthytis plant or arrowhead plant is one of my favorites as the leaves have an interesting pattern to them.  The stems of the leaves can be straight, or curved.   They can have a flowing, arcing movement if the stems have a curve.  And using the leaves pointing appearance can also emphasize movement.   

Unfortunately, the stems are not that long and the leaves are best in smaller arrangements.  For this reason, they would not be the type of material to use in an exhibition.  The plant is a hardy vine and can grow in various light conditions.  It will even do well in a vase of water.  It grows quickly so any leaves that are cut off will be quickly replaced.  It propagates easily also.  It is a very common plant where plants are sold, and is easy to grow.  The leaves don’t always look the same from plant to plant.  Some have more of a dark color to them and some may be a more uniform green.  And on the same plant, there may be a variation.