Open Poppies

Nothing graces a table in beauty like a colorful floral centerpiece.  Creating your own isn’t as difficult as you might think.  For many floral centerpieces, the most important tool you can have on hand is floral foam, also called floral block or oasis.  Creating a centerpiece using foam has two advantages.  The first is to provide a continuous supply of water to the flowers.  The foam is generally cut to fill the container, and then the sides are trimmed at an angle.  This allows room for water in the base of the container.  It’s not enough to simply wet the foam.  Since the foam could dry out, it’s important to allow the foam to rest in an ample amount of water.

The second advantage is the block of foam provides support for the flowers, allowing you to position stems at different angles.  If the top surface of the foam block sits down below the rim of the container, the rim forces the flowers to face upwards in an awkward, stilted manner.  That’s why the ideal arrangement sets the top surface of the block higher than the container by a couple of inches.

So why all the talk about floral foam when this article is about Scotch tape and rock arrangements? Because it’s always helpful to understand how a system normally works before trying alternative methods… like Scotch tape and rocks.

You may be asking, why use an alternate method at all?  Why not just buy floral foam?  At times you may find yourself wanting to create a floral centerpiece at the last minute and you’re out of foam.  If you will be picking flowers from your garden to use in an arrangement, knowing how to use tape and rocks will allow you to create many centerpiece designs without a trip to the store to buy foam.

Another reason for the tape and rock method involves finances.  In a tight economy, finding yet one more way to save money can be rewarding.  If you’re pinching pennies, you’ll be happy to forgo floral foam, although one block probably isn’t going to break the bank.   Whatever your reason for not using foam, you’ll find Scotch tape and rocks, a more than adequate substitute.

Scotch tape works well with glass, ceramic, or metal containers.  Painted containers or those with other finishes applied to the surface may be damaged when the tape is removed.

How To Use Tape And Rocks


Small smooth rocks make a good foundation for holding floral stems.  You can also use colored gems, or marbles which can be found at floral shops, craft shops and online.  Distribute the pieces in the bottom of the container.

The floral arrangement you have in mind will determine how the tape should be applied to the container.  The centerpiece in this article was set in a rectangular glass vase.  The visual objective for the finished project was a profusion of poppies acting as the focal point of the arrangement.  Their stems were the longest of all the flowers, setting them slightly higher and separated from the other flowers.  This was achieved by creating a gutter down the center of the container with tape.  Two strips placed about a half inch apart were positioned across the length of the container.  For additional support, and to accommodate all the different kinds of flowers, tape was also applied across the short sides.  The first piece was positioned in the center, followed by two more pieces to the left and right of the center.  The tape placement created a “grid”, with specific spaces in which to place the stems.

Tape Grid

Arranging The Flowers

I was lucky to have an abundance of fresh garden flowers to work with for my centerpiece.  Poppies, roses, lavender, and another white bushy stem that remains unidentified, came together to create this colorful bouquet. 

The first step was to place bunches of poppies in each of the gutter spaces.  The poppies were all cut the same length to create a definitive center divide. 

Once the poppies were in place, the red/orange roses were cut at different lengths and stuck into the side grid spaces, alternating them with the white roses.  If you have the option, it’s far more interesting to combine different rose blooms, some open, some buds.

The last addition to the centerpiece was the lavender and other unidentified white stems.  Because of the striking color contrast, a few clumps of lavender were bunched near the poppies along with white stems.  But for the most part, the lavender and white stems were positioned at the base of the arrangement.   Some stems were left quite long, while others were clipped short.  The long ones gave the centerpiece even more width and added casual lacy detail to the finished piece.  If this arrangement were constructed without the lolling lavender and white stems it would have a very different look, more constrained and fastidiously organized.

Poppy Alert

I didn’t know much about poppies when I began this project, other than I love their delicate look and colorful petals.  And I did hear on a TV show that the consumption of poppy seeds can cause positive results on drug screening tests.  Unfortunately, I learned something more about poppies the hard way.

If you look closely at the photos on this page, you might notice that in the lead photo (taken from above the centerpiece) the beautiful poppy petals are open wide.  But in the photo below, many of the poppy petals seem to be closing in on them selves.  In fact they were. 

Closing poppies

The lead photo was taken immediately after the arrangement was complete, and the other was taken later, at dinnertime.  What I didn’t know about poppies is that their stems need to be sealed in order for them to retain their juices and for the petals to remain open.  Poinsettias and dahlias present the same issue.  Holding a candle or any flame to the cut stems will seal them. 

Had the petals remained completely open, that defining line I was hoping to achieve would have created a full orange border at the top of the arrangement.  As they closed, the border became ambiguous with too much spacing between the orange petals.  While my poppies didn’t look as glorious as I originally intended, when it came time to be seated at the table, I was lucky that at least some of them had held up.  A lesson learned.

Removing The Tape

When the arrangement has served its purpose and you’re ready to break it down, the tape strips can easily be removed from the container.  Don’t try to peel off each edge.  Instead, cut the strips in the center and pull them toward the sides of the container.

More Ideas For Floral Arrangements