The Floral Proportion to Surroundings

By | August 25, 2012

The floral design must suit the intended placement in its surroundings. The arrangement should fit the area in size and in shape, as well as in style. Imagine a massive wooden table with a petite rose arrangement placed on top of it. The size of the table would overpower the arrangement, diminishing its visual impact. The small arrangement would be more in proportion in a book shelf niche or on a small table.

Determining proper proportion for flowers that will be carried or worn is also very important. The flowers should not overwhelm the person, yet should be large enough for visual impact. Imagine a bride who expects a beautiful bouquet. If the bouquet is either too small or too large, the effect is awkward and out of proportion.

Proportion is very important when designing for any event, whether it is a wedding or a birthday party. Not only should the floral designs be in proper scale to the room, but they should also be suitable and in harmony with the theme and the location. To design an arrangement for an event that has proper proportion as well as harmony and suitability.

Proportion of the Flowers and Foliages to the Container

The Greek’s Golden Mean Japanese traditions are used to attain a pleasing proportion between the plant material and the container. Floral designers have learned that proportion will be pleasing if the height of the arrangement is at least the height or width of a container, whichever is greatest.

Beginning floral designers often create designs that are too short. The flowers, not the container, should be highlighted. In general, upright arrangements should be taller than they are wide and horizontal centerpieces will be wider than they are tall.

A maximum dimension is not stated however, because that depends upon the background, the type of plant material, the theme, the container, and the skill and artistic expression of the designer. If thin, wispy plant materials are used, the arrangement height may the contamer height. An arrangement placed on the floor in a entryway may need the container height to provide the visual impact and proper scale for the site.

Containers that are visually heavy, such as a dark, bulky pottery vase, can visually support a taller, larger design than a clear carafe-shaped glass vase. If the same container is available in many colors, the lighter colored or clear ones will support arrangements that are shorter than their darker colored counterparts.


Centerpieces are a major exception to the 1/z times the container height rule-ofthumb. In a dining situation, the centerpiece should not obstruct the view of the people sitting at the table. It is ideal to be able to see over, through (or around), or under a centerpiece. Bud vases or small vase arrangements, placed in the center of a dining table, may also be shortened to allow viewing over them.

Proportion of the Flowers and Foliages to Each Other

The individual flowers and foliages within the floral design should complement each other in size. Variation in sizes of flowers is pleasing and interesting, but huge jumps in size may not be in proper proportion to each other. An arrangement containing only very small flowers, such as baby’s breath, and very large flowers, such as Fuji chrysanthemums, does not display proper proportion. Flowers of intermediate size would provide a more pleasing scale relationship within the arrangement.

The Dutch Flemish period was a time of great horticultural interest. Flowers were introduced from all parts of the world and were used to create elaborate mixed designs during this period. The designs were carefully styled, large, and flamboyant arrangements with either symmetrical or asymmetrical balance. Careful attention was paid to the selection and placement of the flowers. Fruit, shells, bird nests or birdcages, and other objects of nature were also added as accessories. During the latter part of this period, flowers were shown in all views—front, sides, and back. Space and depth were emphasized more as compared to the Renaissance style. Many containers were used, including urns, glass vases, goblets, low baskets and bowls, and Delft vases.

Floral designs during this period were favored both for the wealthy and the middle class and for both formal and informal occasions. Many paintings of this period show floral designs as an important part of the scene.

Influence on Today’s Designs

The lavish, colorful mixtures of the Dutch Flemish floral designs have influenced many contemporary floral designs, including banquet centerpieces and hotel lobby designs. The use of accessories is still a prominent part of many arrangements. Today’s designs also use depth and display flowers from many angles, which originated in the Dutch Flemish period.