Ever Wonder How…?

As a floral designer, I’ve vowed to never stop learning. I still like to attend design seminars when I can, and I’m always asking other florists and my super savvy assistants if they think I could do something faster, prettier, or smarter. I might even go back to flower school to take some classes (and hopefully TEACH some classes someday.) In my new “Ever Wonder How…?” series, I’ll be posting some neat florist tricks of the trade addressing some questions that I certainly had before becoming a florist. And please, if you have an even better technique than what I am showcasing, leave me a comment!

Ever Wonder How… to decorate a cake with fresh flowers? That’s one thing I didn’t learn in floral school, surprisingly. I’ve seen and tried many different techniques.

  • Some florists just stick the stems directly into the cake (after rinsing the flowers of course! A gentle fruit and vegetable wash works well for this.)
  • Some actually wire and tape each flower, essentially creating a ton of little boutonnieres to stick into the cake. Some wire and tape the flowers onto picks, and insert them into the cake. Can you say time consuming?
  • Some use tiny floral foam cages, fill them with flowers, and lay them on the cake (with cellophane in between, to protect the cake).

Now, all those ways are fine and dandy. They work. I’ve tried them all. But something always weirded me out about sticking an ordinary flower stem into a gorgeous, priceless confection. First off, no matter how well you rinse, are you really getting off all the pesticides and preservatives? And I doubt that florist tape and wires are much cleaner. My issue with the floral foam is that sometimes the cages leak out water and tiny green foam particles, which could be toxic. And the foam is heavy- I do NOT want to see a cake collapse because I’ve just topped it with a 5 pound arrangement. A collapsing cake is one of my recurring nightmares. I’m serious, I can barely breathe when I put flowers on a cake.

The best and easiest solution I’ve found came from my assistant Montita, who spent most of her life in Thailand. She is full of snazzy ideas that she picked up from her home country. Basically, she’s the bomb.

  • Step 1: Select the flowers you’d like to use. Now this is kind of a bummer- most flowers are indeed toxic to some extent. I think the only common wedding flower I DIDN’T see on the on that list was roses. Hmm. That doesn’t leave us with much, right? Keep in mind that there are some flowers that are considered more toxic than others, including ivy, delphinium and kangaroo paws, so try to avoid those. Thankfully, this method really reduces the flower-to-cake contact, so you don’t have to lose sleep over this.

    Some white roses from my garden.

    Some white roses from my garden.

  • Step 2: Cut off the stems completely, leaving just the flower head.IMG_0355
  • Step 3: Take a clean toothpick and poke it into the bottom of the flower.IMG_0357
  • Step 4: If you’re really concerned about your flowers making any contact with the cake, you can cut a small circle of celophane, a little smaller than the flower head. Then pierce it with the toothpick and shimmy it up to the flower head so it acts as a barrier between the cake and the flower.
  • Step 5: Simply insert the toothpicks into the cake and voila! Couldn’t be easier! The best part- it doesn’t leave a huge gaping hole in the cake like a flower stem would.

Thanks for joining me for my first “Ever Wonder How…?” I’ll see ya next time!

And now, I’ll leave you with some pretty pictures of florified cakes πŸ™‚

Photo by Sarah K. Chen

Photo by Sarah K. Chen

photo by Christine Marie Photography.

photo by Christine Marie Photography.


photo by Jasmine Star Photography.

cake table

photo by Jason Q. Tran

photo by Jessica Claire

photo by Jessica Claire


9 Responses to “Ever Wonder How…?”

  1. loveandsplendor Says:

    yes, montita is the bomb!! i love this πŸ™‚ i love even more that 3 of the 5 cake photos are from weddings we did together! xoxo sweetie! reflexology massage next week??

  2. Lesley Says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! What a handy trick. My cousin’s florist just left without putting flowers on the cake- and since they couldn’t get a hold of her to come back, I ended up putting the flowers on the cake. I’d never put flowers on a cake before and I nearly wet my pants, it was so scary. Thanks for sharing such great tips! Can’t wait for more…

    your work is simply stunning.


  3. Jacque Sir Louis Says:

    Great recommendations for adding flowers to cakes. Just wanted to clarify, OASIS Floral Foam is not toxic, so no worries about the particles.

  4. Rachel (Heart of Light) Says:

    Ooohh! You’re so clever. I probably should have asked you before I just dumped a bunch of hydrangeas all over Rena’s wedding cake (um, I think hydrangeas are poisonous?) – luckily everyone survived.

  5. carrien (she laughs at the days) Says:

    Oh brilliant thank-you.

  6. What’s in my toolbox? « The Treasured Petal Blog Says:

    […] toothpicks: so I can do this neat little cake trick […]

  7. Kali Soulier Says:

    Love, Love, Love the toothpick idea – thanks for that. In case this will help, when we use an iglu for flowers to put on top of a cake, we spoon out real sugar on the cake first, put a paper doily down on top of the sugar, and then put the iglu on top of that. When the flowers and doily are removed from the cake none of the icing pulls away and the cake top is left intact and nothing other than the sugar and paper doily are touching the cake.

  8. Omega Says:

    This a great idea! Kai, great additional tip. Does anyone know if dahlias or hydrangeas are safe on cakes?

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