Using Sogetsu Ikebana to Create Harmonious Plant Arrangements

Back in 1927, people felt that ikebana – a Japanese style of flower arrangement – was formal and stuffy, and had to follow strict rules.

Enter sogestsu ikebana, a modern spin-off of the original style that’s much more fluid and creative, and that can be applied to not just flowers, but also music, sculpture and painting (any material, really).

Our founder, Emily, started practicing sogetsu ikebana long before she founded Petaloom, and many of the same design principles have made their way into our planted arrangements. Here is a brief overview of this form of ikebana and what it means to apply ikebana to plants rather than cut flowers.


Sogetsu Ikebana

Guiding Principles of Sogetsu Ikebana

Sogetsu ikebana focuses on taking a fresh approach to creating movement, harmony and balance, and there are all different ways to do this. You’re encouraged to experiment with whatever you can dream up and challenged to create something surprising. Shapes are usually minimal and natural, and the lines of the arrangement should lead your eye in a graceful and organic way.

The three points of traditional ikebana creations represent heaven, earth and humanity, and many structures are triangular because of this. However, the exact number of branches matters less than achieving overall balance.

Classic Design Elements

Sogetsu ikebana design pays close attention to color, line and mass. In addition to carefully choosing the color of the plants or flowers you use, consider the color of the container and pedestal you use, as well as the surrounding lights and walls. In ikebana generally, and at Petaloom, it is important to select a container that will accentuate the beauty of the ikebana arrangement, not distract from it. By working with smooth lines, you’ll mimic the ones you might find in nature. Remember that space isn’t necessarily meant to be filled; instead, you can create and preserve space in your arrangement. 

Sogetsu Ikebana at Petaloom

While ikebana is normally created with cut flowers, Emily has been working similar principles into our planted arrangements while also integrating a horticultural understanding of plants that thrive together.

Catalina Aloe Grande Petaloom

For the Catalina Grande Aloe, Emily applied the ikebana principle that imbalance can be used to make a balanced piece. An assortment of plants and shapes that avoid repetition and symmetry create a sense of harmony.

That said, whenever creating a plant ecosystem, it is of paramount importance to combine plants that have similar lighting and watering needs, while also thinking about the kind of soil and drainage that each individual plant requires. So while ikebana is a wonderful aesthetic guide, working with plants adds an extra layer of complexity which serves as a true creative constraint. Then again, we always say that creativity is borne out of constraints!

Ultimately, the beauty of sogetsu ikebana plant arrangements – or any art or décor that follows its style – is that they can be used anywhere and by anyone. There’s no specific atmosphere or space that’s better suited to ikebana. Anywhere that you need to infuse color, design and a reminder of nature is the perfect place for your arrangement.

Let us know if you have thoughts on the basic principles of ikebana or want more details about how we approach plant combinations! We love to hear about your plant creations!

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