Ikebana is a stylized and regimented way of arranging flowers. The word
"Ikebana" means flowers kept alive, according to Japanzone.com. Buddhist monks founded the style as a way to decorate niches in the temple. Since only one side of the arrangement was visible, Ikebana arrangements are not meant to be viewed from the back or sides. Many different flowers are used depending on the season or festival.
Chrysanthemums are fall flowers. Since Ikebana reflects the seasons, mums are used for autumn arrangements. Chrysanthemum flowers range from button mums as big as a silver dollar to spider mums more than 5 inches across. Even though mums come in spring colors of pink and light purple, fall colored mums in burgundy, gold and russet are used in Ikebana floral arranging. Ikebana depends on using only a few flowers, so each one must be close to perfect.
Iris is spring. The plants grow from a bulb and will multiply under the right growing conditions. The leaves are sword-shaped and 15 to 24 inches long. The blossoms are 4 to 5 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. The upper three petals meet over the stamens while the lower three petals curve downward. The edges of the petals are a bit frilled. Colors include white, yellow, blue and purple. Since the stems of Iris are long and sturdy, they're used for tall arrangements. Other spring flowers used include narcissus or daffodils.
Branches without flowers are utilized in Ikebana arrangements for their interesting twists, curves and shapes. Most trees bloom for a short period so branches with flowers are limited to those times. Cherry blossoms bloom in spring. Peach and apple blossoms are used as well. Other tree branches include quince, plum and apricot.
Branches with berries or fruits appear in season. These include bittersweet, nandina and winterberry. Occasionally fruits and branches with fruit, such as oranges, appear in Ikebana floral arrangements.
Peonies are large cup-shaped flowers with many petals arranged in a circle. They resemble roses but some peony varieties are much larger than roses, up to 8 inches across. The tree, which is actually a bush, grows slowly up to 5 feet tall. They can live up to 200 years. Peonies are fragrant. The flowers bloom in white, pink, yellow, purple and dark red. Peonies bloom better in a sunny location, however the blossoms last longer in a shady location.