There are three basic placements common to both Moribana and Nageire arrangements. The longest and most important line is called shin which means heaven. The next longest is called soe which means man. The shortest stem is called hikae and means earth. After these three main flowers are placed into position, additional branches and flowers, known as jushi can be added. Jushi is always shorter than the main stem and must be cut at varying lengths.
There is no limit to the number of flowers that can be used in an Ikebana arrangement; however you must use an odd number. Even numbers suggest symmetry, which should be avoided.
Positioning of Flowers
In all basic Ikebana arrangements, the three main stems are placed at defined angles. They are 10 degrees, 45 degrees and 75 degrees. The angles are measured from the upright zero, which is an imaginary line rising vertically from the point where the shin branch is placed in the kenzan. Also, avoid placing the kenzan in the center of the container; instead place in one of the corners.
Cutting the Flowers
Always cut flowers and branches under water. This is the most effective way to conserve water in plant material. If you cut the plant material out of water, the stem immediately begins to absorb air which hinders the absorption of water. Flowers are cut straight across and branches should be cut on a diagonal.
When working with branches, look at the natural line of the plant. Sometimes removing some flowers or trimming branches helps emphasize the rest of the arrangement. Once you determine the line, cut away the excess twigs and leaves that interfere with your line. Flowers should also be trimmed. The part of the stem that will be below water should be trimmed of leaves, flowers and buds, which will decay and pollute the water.
If your branch is not curved exactly the way you want, you can bend it to your desired shape. Hold the branch with both hands with the fingers of one hand over the branch and the fingers of the other under the branch; both thumbs are opposite each other. Carefully massage the stem by pressing the thumbs towards each other. Keep twisting the branch slightly as you move your hands long the branch. To prevent the branch from breaking, pressure should be applied gently and evenly.