What to Know About Putting Flowers on Your Cakes

updated Dec 1, 2022
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

There is something truly special about fresh flowers on a cake. My own wedding cake was dressed with lavender and herbs, and I can’t help but want to break out the heart eyes emoji whenever I see a cake decorated with fresh flowers on the internet or in real life.

If you’re looking to decorate your own cake with fresh flowers, where do you start? Is it as simple as just piling them on top of the frosting? Here’s what you need to know to achieve show-stopping cake status with the flourish of fresh flowers.

Know Which Flowers You Can and Cannot Use

While there’s a world of beautiful flowers out there, not all of them are safe to use on something edible like a cake. Flowers like hydrangeas and baby’s breath, while popular in bouquets, are actually toxic.

Even if you aren’t eating the actual flowers, just contact with the buttercream frosting you will eat could be dangerous, so it’s best to stick with flowers that are edible.

“Flowers that are beautiful as well as edible include roses, calendulas, nasturtiums, hibiscus, violets, and sunflowers, among others. One category that’s also pretty safe from top to bottom are herbs like rosemary, thyme, and chamomile,” says Susan Reid, Food Editor of King Arthur Flour’s Sift Magazine.

A Couple of Great Resources

Beyond the flowers being edible, they should be grown in the proper way. “If you’re planning to put fresh flowers on a cake, and they’re going to make contact with frosting that’s going to be consumed, those flowers also need to be organically grown and not treated with any pesticides,” says Susan.

If you grow your own flowers, this is a great opportunity to use them, but if not, the farmers market or local florist are both great resources. Just be sure to talk with the grower or shop owner and learn their growing practices to make sure you’re using safe flowers.

How to Decorate Your Cake with Fresh Flowers

Once you’ve gathered your flowers, it’s time to frost and decorate the cake. Wash and dry the flowers completely before using to get rid of any dirt or little bugs that could potentially be lingering inside. Cut the stalks of the flowers so they are only a couple of centimeters long, strip the flowers of most of their leaves, and remove any thorns if they have them.

Once you’ve arranged the flowers on your cake, keep the cake in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be served, so that the flowers stay fresh.

Have you ever decorated a cake with flowers? Do you have any tips for doing it safely and beautifully?