Answers To 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Making Seafoam Trees

Posted by Katarzyna Swiatek on

Here are the ten most frequently asked questions about making seafoam model trees:

What is seafoam and where can I buy it?

seafoam plants ready for treesSeafoam is a common name used to describe the plant Teleoxis Aristata.  The plant, growing up to 35 cm tall, is made up of shoots that can be fashioned into realistic model trees.

The image to the left shows mature seafoam plants ready to be trimmed and made into trees and bushes.

There are two ways to obtain seafoam.  One is to buy the shoots and the other is to grow your own plants.

Seafoam shoots are incredibly expensive.  But because they add such realism to a scene, many people endure the cost and buy them.  There are many suppliers.  Search google images with the term "Buy Seafoam Trees" and you will find many.

On the other hand, if you grow your own seafoam, you will find that it is remarkably inexpensive.  Additionally, it is easy to grow.  A source of seeds and a complete guide to making seafoam trees is here.


How do I prepare seafoam for making model trees?

There are really two aspects to this question.  One concerns preserving and making the shoots ready to make into trees. And the second concerns the actual tree making process.

As to preservation:

The colors of stems may be red or some other shade not appropriate for a tree.  Dip them in bleach and hang to dry. You may need a couple applications to get the results you want. If you are going to spray paint the trees, as discussed below, this is not necessary.

Then you may want to apply glycerine either by spraying the shoots or dipping them in a 20/80 solution of glycerine/water. Applying too much glycerine will make them oily. Spraying once or a few second dip is usually enough.  Hang them to dry thoroughly.

The bark on trees that you are going to model will have a particular color.  Either use spray paint or dip the shoots in fabric dye to get the result that you want. Using spray paint is most popular.

The Tree Making Process

As to the actual tree making process, approaches vary from simply spray painting the shoots and adding flock to adding tiny pieces of shoots to plastic, natural or wire armatures.

The best way to understand this is to watch a series of modelers use these techniques.  The YouTube playlist showing these techniques being used is here

What tools and materials do I need to make seafoam model trees?

 Holding Tools

You will need something to hold the base of the sprout while your trim it. It can be a third hand or hobby vise. And then you will need something to hold the sprout when you spray it. A rubber gloved hand works well. And forceps, needle nosed pliers, alligator clips on the ends off dowels and the likes do well.


seafoam trees in styrofoam   Styrofoam

  A piece of flat styrofoam, or something else, into which you can punch holes is needed to hold your trees upright after painting and so on.





I consider glycerine an option. It is used to preserve seafoam. I don't bother with it. I encase the seafoam in enamel spray paint.


Spay paint

A cheap can of spray paint is almost a necessity. You may want to get a brown, black and gray. The small cans will cover many, many trees.


Magnifying Glasses

For those of us who have been lucky enough to reach the great years of a lot of experience, these are very helpful.



An absolute necessity.


Small scissors

A thread cutter, small personal care scissors, fine brass snips. Absolutely needed.



The type of flock used for foliage on model trees can vary depending on personal preference and the desired effect.

A common type of flock used for this purpose is static grass flock It is available in a range of colors and lengths to simulate different types of foliage, such as grass, bushes, and trees. This type flock is actually optional. Many people make trees without even considering it. In any case, here is a supplier.

Foam flock of one form or another is necessary. Fine turf is best for most applications. To save money, buy, or make (how to make), a neutral color and tint batches to the colors that you need.

Some use sawdust, blended moss, blended leaves and other things that tickle their creative juices.

I use blended moss for leaves. I put the moss in a blender with some water and chop it fine. Then I color it with pigment, diluted acrylic paint or fabric dye. I prefer to use pigment that I get in the paint section of the local building supply.


Hair Spray and/or Scenic Cement

These go hand in hand. Personally, I always spray with my own scenic cement (80 water, 20 PVA) and cover with static grass. Then I use hair spray (cheap, firm hold) to add the next layers.


What scale are seafoam model trees suitable for?

One can use seafoam to make trees for scales G on down to N.  At G scale, the trees are best made by attaching shoots to natural or wire armatures.

Remember that seafoam is also used to make bushes, shrubs and flowers.  These can be made in sizes to fit all the mentioned scales.


How do I attach seafoam branches to a tree trunk?

 A gel CA glue is the preferred glue to use. A dab of glue is put on the trunk stub and, using tweezers to hold the branch, it is attached to the stub.  Watch it being done in this video.

Can I dye or paint seafoam model trees?


Dying is most appropriate when making bushes and flowers.  Use either regular fabric dye or food color.

Most painting is done by using a cheap can of spray paint.  Additional texture can be added by brushing an acrylic paint over that.

Note that a clear spray varnish can also be used at any stage of the modeling process.


How do I create a realistic texture on seafoam model trees?

Adding texture to the trunk of a tree is done by brushing on various shades of acrylic paint. The thicker the paint the more defined it will be.

One may also paint the trunk with glue and then cover it with sawdust or finely sifted soil. That can then be painted as necessary.

Fine turf flock is the main product used for foliage.  Many times static grass is glued to the seafoam after which fine turf is added. For added realism, small amounts of slightly different shades of the flock being used are sprinkled on as a topcoat.

Another approach to texturing the foliage area is to use scale sized leaves.  There are three ways that they are used.  First by direct application to the tree.  Second by adding over static grass. And third by adding them over the fine turf.


How do I shape seafoam model trees to look natural?

Start by looking at some pictures of the trees that you want to model. Some will have definitive shapes while others will not.

An artist starts a project by hiring a model.  Your model will be printed images of the trees you want to replicate.

Arm yourself with your scissors, put the shoot in a holder and, using an image as a guide, cut away.

Or, use an armature (wire, plastic, natural) and glue pieces in place.

For some scenes you may be able to use the seafoam shoots just as they are.  The point here is that you should not get hung up on manicured trees.  Find an image that shows a scene similar to what you want.  Then look closely at what is there being careful to note how scrubby the greenery can be.

Can seafoam model trees be used in outdoor dioramas?

Seafoam model trees are generally not recommended for outdoor dioramas as they are delicate and can easily be damaged by weather conditions such as rain, wind, and sunlight. The seafoam material can also break down over time due to exposure to the elements.

If you do want to use seafoam model trees in an outdoor diorama, there are some precautions you can take to protect them. You can apply a clear varnish or sealant to the seafoam to help protect it from moisture and sunlight.

However, even with these precautions, seafoam model trees may still not be able to withstand long-term exposure to outdoor conditions. It is generally recommended to use other types of materials such as plastic or resin for outdoor dioramas, as they are more durable and can withstand exposure to the elements.


How do I maintain and care for seafoam model trees over time?

Maintaining and caring for seafoam model trees is essential to keep them looking realistic and in good condition. Here are some tips to help you maintain and care for your seafoam model trees:

    Dusting: Use a soft-bristled brush or compressed air (blow through a straw) to remove dust and debris from the surface of the seafoam model trees. Avoid using a wet cloth or wiping the branches as this can damage the delicate seafoam material.

    Storing: Store your seafoam model trees in a dry and cool place, away from direct sunlight or moisture. You can also store them in a plastic container or a box to protect them from dust and damage.

    Repairing: If any branches or foliage break off, you can use a small amount of white glue or clear nail polish to reattach them to the trunk. Be careful not to use too much adhesive as it can look messy and ruin the natural look of the tree.

    Protecting: If you are using your seafoam model trees in an outdoor diorama, you can spray them with a clear acrylic varnish to protect them from the elements. Make sure to do a small test patch before spraying the whole tree to avoid any discoloration or damage.

    Refreshing: Over time, the seafoam branches may start to lose their natural green color. To refresh the color, you can use a small amount of acrylic paint or spray them with a green dye. Be careful not to use too much paint or dye, as this can also ruin the natural look of the tree.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your seafoam model trees look beautiful and realistic for years to come.


Seafoam Seeds 

How To Grow Seafoam

Static Grass For Flock 

How To Make Your Own Flock

Making Seafoam Trees Tutorials

Making All Kinds Of Trees Tutorials