One of the easiest ways to decorate a cake (or any other dessert) is by using the natural beauty of fresh flowers. This guide covers every aspect of How To Decorate A Cake With Flowers, from what kind of flowers you should use to how you can get them to stick to the cake. Let’s dive in!
🌸 What Flowers Can I Use To Decorate Cakes?
When it comes to fresh flowers on cake, there are lots of options to choose from! Here are the 3 primary types of flower cake decorations to consider:
Edible Flowers - Petals & Whole Flowers
If you’ve ever wondered if you can eat fresh florals, the answer is a resounding YES! That said, there are a few basic tips and things to consider when choosing what flowers to eat:
- Not all flowers are edible. In fact, some are poisonous flowers! Make sure you do your research before sticking strange, pretty things in your mouth.
- Even if the type of flower is edible, the way it was raised may make it not food-safe. Did you just drive by a hill of gorgeous, edible plants? Unfortunately, you have to keep driving. All the roadside pollution makes those beauties inedible. In addition, any flowers that have been treated with chemical pesticides are also not recommended for human consumption.
- Depending on the flower, different parts of the plant may or may not be edible. For the flowers listed below, all of the petals are perfectly edible, but the stems and leaves may or may not be. Again, do your research.
- Edible flowers are very delicate. Once you procure your edible flowers, get right to work. They’ll last a maximum of 4-6 days from being picked if kept under refrigeration, so there’s no time to dawdle when decorating your layer cakes.
- Edible flowers vary widely in flavor. Some are spicy, others are vegetal. Some taste the way they smell, some are sweet, and some are sour. The more experimenting you do, the more you’ll be able to decipher which ones are your favorites! This post does a great job breaking down which parts of flowers are edible and what they taste like.
So, what flowers are edible? As long as they were responsibly grown, you can eat at least some varieties of each of the following types of flowers:
- Calendula (a.k.a. Marigold)
- Chrysanthemums (a.k.a. Mums)
- Dame’s Violet
- Day Lilies
- English Daisies
- Garden Sorrel
- Perennial Phlox
- Pineapple Guave
- Queen Anne’s Lace
- Sunflower Petals
- Tulip Petals
- Wild Baby’s Breath (a.k.a. Sweet Woodruff)
If you are using edible flowers, consider making them sparkling Sugared Flowers for a little extra pizazz!
Non-Edible Flowers - Whole Flowers Only
There are actually plenty of flowers that are not considered edible but are also not poisonous to humans, so you can still put them on the top of your cake. SO LONG AS THE FLOWERS AREN’T TOXIC, you can decorate your cake with them. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Flowers need to be non-toxic to humans for obvious food safety reasons. I know I’ve already said that, but I can’t emphasize it enough!
- Ideally, they should be organic. If they aren’t organic, be sure you only purchase from reputable sources, such as a local florist, who can tell you if any pesticides were used. If pesticides were used, you probably don’t want them on your plate - keep them for an arrangement or bridal bouquet. The grocery store will likely use pesticides, so make sure to check with their in house florist and let them know you're a cake decorator before using.
- Don’t feed them flower food. The flower food isn’t meant for humans, and it can leach out of the stems into the tiered cake. Keep your flowers plain and simple!
Some examples of non-edible but safe cake decorating flowers include:
- English & Gerber Daisies
- Snap Dragons
Non-Flower Flowers - e.g. Frosting, Fondant, Sugar Paste, or Wafer Paper Flowers
A general rule to keep in mind is that if something is edible, you can definitely decorate a cake with it. All of these non-flower flowers are perfectly acceptable! Just note that I personally don’t love fondant, sugar paste, or wafer paper for most applications.
While they can yield gorgeous results, they don’t taste particularly good. However, I’d put them on the same level as non-edible flowers on a cake — pretty to look at, not for eating. As an added bonus, you can easily buy pre-made flowers of this kind on Amazon.
- A frosted cake. It can be any type of cake, any flavor, any size, tiered or not - a simple cake made with buttercream frosting, a crumb coat or fondant. You can also use flowers to decorate non-cake desserts like cupcakes, pies, or cookies. Just note that the dessert should be fully cooked and ready for eating before you start.
- Deep bowls for washing. The first thing to remember about edible flowers in particular is that they are delicate. Make sure you’re submerging them in still, cool water rather than running them under the faucet to protect them from bruising and damage.
- Plastic wrap or floral tape. If you are using big flowers, the way to get them to stick in the cake is by using their stems as the base. We wrap any stems in either plastic wrap or floral tape to prevent any icky-tasting fluids from leaking into the cake.
- Sharp scissors or flower shears. You’ll likely need to do some trimming so your flower stems aren’t too long.
📖 How To Prepare Flowers For Cake Decorating
Step 1: Wash. If you’re using fresh flowers, you’ll need to wash them first. Make sure you wash the petals, too, as little critters can be lurking in there! As a general rule, avoid washing flowers under running water to prevent damage to the delicate petals. Instead, submerge them in a basin of cool water and gently agitate them back and forth.
Step 2: Dry. Make sure you thoroughly dry any flowers before moving forward. For flowers like roses, I like to tip them upside down to get any water that might’ve gotten trapped between the petals. Again, remember that these are delicate creatures. Take care to dry them without bruising or damaging them.
Step 3: Trim As Needed. You need a *little bit* of a stem to help hold your flowers in place on the cake, but you don’t need them to be vase length. Keep some sharp scissors at the ready to help you trim them so they don’t poke through the sides of the cake.
Step 4: Wrap Stems. Using either floral tape or plastic wrap, wrap the entire stem from end to end before placing in the cake.
Step 5: Decorate! You’ve done all the prep, and now it’s time for the fun part. Arrange the flowers artfully, considering different heights and angles. If you have larger blooms, make sure you balance them so they won’t fall and tear open the cake.
❓ How Do I Get Flowers To Stick To Cake?
Smaller, lighter flowers often don’t require much finagling to stay put. If you are using just the blooms or petals with no stems, press them directly into the sides of your cake or the frosting.
Medium-sized flowers should be attached using the stems. Poke the stem directly into the cake, pushing all the way until the bloom is firmly resting on the frosting.
Large flowers require a little reinforcement. I suggest using straws (or bubble tea straws, if the stems are wide!) like you would an anchor for hanging a picture. Press the straw in first, then slide the wrapped stem through the straw until you’re satisfied with the placement.
Also, if you want the flowers to sit at a particular angle, remember to keep the stems on!
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Decorate your cake with flowers the same day you want to have the cake on display, or the flowers will wilt. Nobody wants that!
- Wrap your flowers no more than 24 hours in advance and keep them in the fridge. Flowers need water to maintain turgor pressure, which means you should keep them in water for as long as possible so they don’t wilt. I’d suggest asking your florist ahead of time to see how long they believe the flowers can last once wrapped.
- Dried flowers have a longer shelf life than fresh. Fresh flowers need water to stay vibrant, so you shouldn’t add them to your cake until a few hours before it’s set to be on display. If you want a larger window, consider using dried flowers instead.
- Use a barrier if you don’t want to wrap stems. You’re welcome to put an acetate sheet or cake board on top of the cake to create a barrier, frost it so it blends in, and then just pile the flowers on it as you wish! As an added benefit, you can easily lift off all the flowers on top of the cake for easy slicing.
- Consider all angles. Many people decorate a cake only by looking at it from the front, but it should be a full 360-degree experience! Use the concepts you learned in art class: color, balance, movement, and proportion.
💭 Recipe FAQs
You want to stay within flowers that are considered non-toxic to humans. Some toxic flowers include: Lily of the Valley, Foxglove, Daffodils, Oleander, Desert Rose, Wolfsbane, Hydrangea, Larkspur, Pointsettia, and Baby’s Breath (but wild baby’s breath a.k.a. Woodruff is a-okay!). Just be sure to do a quick Google search before choosing any non-edible flowers for decorating.
Absolutely! Pressed flower cakes have taken the internet by storm in the last year or two. Just be sure you’re using edible flowers and greens if you opt for this option, since the pressed flowers will stick to the frosting.
If you opt for full-stemmed dried flowers, follow the same precautions listed above (e.g. choosing non-toxic flowers, trimming and wrapping the stems, etc). Using dried flowers has the added benefit of longevity. Dried flowers can last for days on cakes, whereas fresh flowers will only last about 24 hours.
Since fresh flowers prefer to be stored in water, they aren’t going to love being wrapped in plastic and stored in cake or frosting. As such, I suggest adding the fresh flowers to the cake within a few hours of putting it on display. At most, fresh flowers will last up to 24 hours on the cake so long as they are kept in the fridge.
I’d first suggest you check out your local flower growers or flower shops. Call them up and see if they can source edible flowers for you. You can also find them at specialty shops like Whole Foods in the refrigerated section near the fresh herbs. There are also some specialty online stores that sell them.
However, if you end up liking decorating your goodies with flowers, I suggest considering starting a small edible flower garden. Many varieties can grow in pots, so you can grow them even if you live in an apartment.
If you try decorating your cakes with flowers, please leave a 🌟 review and share your creation with me onsocial media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest - for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter! 📧