Everything You Need to Know About Using Fresh Flowers on Cake

cake with fresh flowers

Here’s some great news: using real flowers as cake decor doesn’t require professional-level skill. In fact, fresh blooms can be way easier than fiddling with the sugar-based variety. Before you start trimming stems or snacking on petal scraps though, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

1. Do a Safety Check

This part’s no joke: some flowers are naturally toxic if consumed, and others are harmful because they’ve been sprayed with pesticides. Either way, they really shouldn’t be cozied up in your frosting.

Edible blooms include roses, gardenia, pansies, violets and dandelions, among others. But if you love the look of a flower that isn’t edible, you may still be able to use it on your cake if you whisk it away before serving. To be sure, talk to a good florist — preferably one who regularly deals with cake decor — about your options, and follow some basic safety guidelines to get started.

2. Keep ‘Em Fresh

You want to do everything you can to extend the life of your blooms, especially if you’re purchasing them a few days before they’re going on your cake. To process your flowers, strip the stem of all flowers or greenery you don’t want to show. Then dunk the entire flower (stem and all) into a vinegar and water solution — this kills all bacteria on the plant so it’ll live longer. Trim the stem and dip the end into Quick Dip to hydrate the flower. Then store ’em in a vase with water until they’re ready to use!

3. Account for the Conditions

Think about when and where this cake will be served, and choose your flowers to match. No matter how gorgeous those lilacs are, for example, they’re not going to hold up long on a hot summer day. Hearty mums, however, are easy to keep looking fresh.

4. Deal With the Stems

You could just stick the flower stems directly into the cake, but that won’t keep your blooms or cake the freshest they can be. Instead, insert them into individual flower holders (those little tubes available at florist shops), or use a product like Ingenious Edibles Safety Seal to coat stems in a food-safe wax.

5. Play With Design

Here are some easy-yet-dramatic ideas for using fresh flowers on a cake.

Wreathy Does It

cake with flower wreath

Photo by Erin Gardner

Whether you do a simple circle around the edge of the cake or a broader ring, a crown-like topping of flowers looks simple but luxurious.

Petal Pusher

white cake covered in flower petals

Photo by Erin Gardner

When deconstructed and scattered, a few colorful blossoms go a long way in creating a modern, romantic look. Plus, it’s totally foolproof: simply toss gently pressed petals all over your cake and you’re done.

Candy Crush

cake with candied flowers

Photo by Erin Gardner

Assuming you’re using edible flowers, consider turning them into candied edible flowers. It’s so easy: simply brush the petals with beaten egg whites or moistened meringue powder, then sprinkle with confectioner’s or decorating sugar. (You can also purchase these pre-made at a cake decorating supply store.)

Cake Corsage

cake with roses

In the same way tucking a flower behind your ear makes you look instantly glam, affixing one (or maybe even a well-balanced trio) of flowers to the edge of a cake gives it some real star power. When it’s time to serve, you can quickly remove them — or leave in place and see which lucky guest gets the special slice.

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