Thursday, June 4, 2009

Flower Frogs

Today I clipped the first blooms of the season from my hydrangea bushes. Arranging hydrangea flowers in a vase can be a pain in the neck. The bloom heads are so huge, and the stems are so skinny, they'll topple a small bud vase right over. The massive, showy flowers also have a tendency to "look down," so they need a little help in arrangements.

Enter the flower frogs! These are glass flower frogs:

They have multiple holes to hold the stems of flowers. You put a frog at the bottom of your vase, fill it with water, and poke the stems down into the holes of the frog.
See? The holes go right through, so the stems continue to soak up water as they sit in the vase.
Glass flower frogs are pretty objects all on their own. Some people collect them for their looks. I have four or five glass ones, not enough to call a collection. You can find glass frogs in junk and antique shops, resale shops, and sometimes at yard sales. Of course, the Internet is a good source, too, although you may pay a bit more. I found my glass frogs in local shops and paid less than $10 for each one.
There's an oval one, for those odd-shaped vases that are wider than they are long.
Here's a clear one, which sort of fades into the background when it's put in water. Sometimes that's the effect you want.

Glass flower frogs aren't suitable for all flower types. If you're arranging really fat stems, like those on a calla lily, or really skinny ones, like those on a bluebell, you want a different kind, with multiple, sharp pins. You want...
These! Please notice the lovely, up-to-date graphics. I bought this boxed set of frogs about 10 or 15 years ago, and the graphics were dated even then. They were in my local hardware/nursery and probably set me back less than $5.
Anyhow, these frogs are made of close-set, sharp metal pins on a metal base. You just ram the stems of the flowers right onto the pins, in the case of thick stems, or you insert the stems between the pins, in the case of very slender stems.
Here's two-thirds of the set. Another half-circle shape is missing--probably somewhere around the house already hard at work. Anyhow, the reason I like this set is that it's interlocking. The little tabs on the metal bases allow you to hook the two half-circles together to make a circular frog. Or you can link all three and get an oval shape. Or you can use the square one all on its own. Here's a close-up of the interlocking tabs:

In addition to this three-part set, I have a few circular frogs in various sizes:

The little guy on the left is probably about 3/4 of an inch across.

It's nice to have a couple of sizes to choose from, because vases have different-sized bottoms.
They're sharp! And--word of caution, here--if you are using one of these babies in the bottom of a glass vase, put a little clear plastic wrap under the base and up the sides of the frog. Otherwise, the metal just might scratch the insides of your vase or bowl, and that'd be a shame. (I promise when you add the water, nobody will see the plastic wrap at all.)

But this is the kind, below, is what I want to use today. I don't know what you call this type of frog; the metal loops kind of remind me of old-fashioned hairpins, with an extra little dip in the top of the loop:

After years of use, the base of this frog is kinda gruesome, but it's under water, at the bottom of an arrangement, and it's hardly noticeable after you add in the flowers.

And it's very handy for grabbing hold of skinny-stemmed, floppy-headed flowers like hydrangeas.

To make your flowers last longer, some folks recommend adding a little lemon-lime-flavored soda to the water. The sugar feeds the flowers, and the citric acid slows down the decay of the stems that are under water. I never have soda around the house, so I use a little bit of sugar and a spritz of lemon juice. Bottled or fresh, both work equally well for flower arranging:

Just toss the ingredients in the vase, add your water, and give the mixture a swirl to help the sugar dissolve.

Then plop in your frog:
Cut the stems down to the length you think you want (if you're not sure, cut them long because you can always trim off a bit later). I like to cut flower stems under water, on an angle, with a very sharp pair of shears.

These Japanese flower-arranging shears are great. They aren't cheap, but a good pair will last you a lifetime. I just got these sharpened at my local farmers' market, and now they are wickedly sharp! The knife-sharpener dude also straightened out the tip of the scissors, which were bent from my accidentally dropping them, point-first, onto the floor a while back.

The first stem is in and anchored in place. Here's the second stem:

Three stems' worth of hydrangeas pretty much fills up the vase. I think it's ready to be put on display:
Here's the arrangement, lookin' good on my hall table:

Uh-oh! I took the above photo on my knees. When I stood up and looked at the flowers from a standing position, which is how the flowers will be viewed, I noticed a big hole in the back of the arrangement. Plus, it looked sort of...blah:

Note to Self: Always check a flower arrangement for how it looks, in place, viewed from whatever angle it's going to be seen.

This one looked Not So Good. So I added some lemon leaves from last week's arrangement:

That's better! A bit more green always seems to help. And believe me, without the frog in the vase, these hydrangeas would be heads down, tails up, all over this table. Now, they'll stay put!


  1. My hydrangeas are blooming as well. I've used those glass pebbles to anchor them, or cut them short so they don't topple over the edge.
    I've been adding a rose into the mixture, a little variety in the arrangement.

  2. Love it! I had no idea what a flower frog was until I read this post! Thank you.



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