Ditch the frosting tube and the tedious rosettes for a fresh flower ring on your next cake! In this post, I’m sharing how to decorate a cake with fresh flowers, which flowers are safe to use, and how to store your flower-adorned confections!

cake with fresh flowers with spoons and dishes

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For my Mother-in-laws birthday, I decided to try my hand at making a 3-layered cake. My first ever! It was an adventure for sure and in the end, it was not the worst cake ever… it leaned a bit but overall not too bad for the first time. The original plan was to make buttercream frosting flowers using my new frosting tips. Well since the cake tested my patience I decided to go straight to decorating the cake with fresh flowers. Now, THIS is something I know how to do!

I’ve been decorating cakes with fresh flowers for years. As a floral designer, this is a common request I would receive from future brides and grooms. The baker would deliver the cake and I would (very carefully…) garnish it with fresh flowers.

top view of cake decorated with roses, ivy and african violet flowers

Floral suppliers sell cake topper forms for this purpose, here is something similar. These can be made ahead of time and simply placed on the top of the cake. Many of my clients wanted a more free form/loose flower design with just the blooms placed directly on the top and the layers. After the cake was done I always added a little ribbon-tied cluster of flowers on the bridal cake knife. This was…well…the icing on the cake!

For these loose flower design, I make sure to choose non-toxic flowers and greens. Non-toxic does not mean edible and these flowers need to be removed before serving. For a list of true edible flowers click here.

The Process

Once the cake was frosted and placed on the cake stand, I was ready to decorate. I bought a bunch of spray roses from my local grocery store, a flowering African violet plant, and a variegated Ivy plant. I clipped several ivy leaves off the plant and floated them in water to give them a good wash. I then laid them out on a paper towel to dry.

Ivy leaves soaking in water

To begin I snipped the largest, open roses and placed them on the cake at the 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00 marks to begin shaping the ring. You can use floral tape to tape each stem to make sure the blooms do not leak into the frosting. I typically do not as most of the foliage and blooms are simply laying on the frosting. Buttercream frosting is quite sticky which makes it perfect for this application.

fresh flowewrs and plants from my grocery store

As I placed the rose heads, I continuously watched to make sure I was designing somewhat of a perfect ring. Once the roses were in place, I laid the ivy leaves in and around the roses. I made sure that some were trailing off the top and down the sides of the cake. From there I snipped the little flower heads of the African violet plant and simply placed them in with the roses and ivy. I did not use the foliage from the African violet plant.

close up of fresh flowers on a cake


I decorated this cake on the same day I was serving it at my Mother-in-laws birthday. I had made the cake the day before and refrigerated it overnight. Once the flowers were in place, I simply put it back in the refrigerator until it was time to head to the party.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put fresh flowers on a cake the day before?

I would not recommend doing so. I’d recommend making the cake the day before an event and then decorating the cake the day of. Flowers need water to prevent them from wilting. If they’re added to the cake more than a day before an event, they can really lose their luster.

What if I want to decorate the cake the day before?

Your best bet would be to make a mini arrangement using a shallow dish with fresh flower foam or a cake topper. This way the flowers are not touching the icing just sitting on top.

How long do fresh flowers last on a cake?

This depends on the type of flower, how fresh the blooms are when the cake is decorated, and whether they were refrigerated, in general, 8 or so hours.

What type of flowers can I put on a cake?

I avoid poisonous flowers like these listed here. If I want to use from this list (ie hydrangea) I would use the foam/container method listed above so there is zero contact with the frosting. You may also want to put a layer of parchment paper under the floral topper to ensure there is no contact.

How do I serve cake decorated with fresh flowers?

Remove all flowers and greens, then with a spatula, I’d suggest scraping the top layer of frosting off before cutting and serving. The flowers are for decorative purposes only.

side view of cake with fresh flowers

If you are not into baking cakes, consider asking the bakery to bake a plain white frosted cake for you to decorate. You can then make your way over to the floral department and buy some non-toxic flowers for your design! This cake has a $6.99 bunch of spray roses, a $3.99 African violet plant, and a $3.99 ivy plant. A florist would charge well over $50 to design this exact cake! You got this!

For another idea consider adding fruit and herbs to your flowers as shown below on this semi naked lemon cake. This cake top is decorated with slices of lemon, violets, and fresh rosemary.

lemon semi naked cake with lemon slices, rosemary and purple violets.
lemon cake decorated with violets, lemon wedges and rosemary sprigs.

Please feel free to leave me any messages or questions you have about decorating a cake with fresh flowers. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on my cake making, I’m determined to get it right! If you are looking for more fresh flower inspiration please visit my Lily Topiary post and my Floral Candle Ring one too!

Keep creating friends!

my signature. drawing of me with a cup of coffee.

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    1. Hi Nikki,
      For actual edible flowers you would have to search online. I believe Amazon sells some. In this post the flowers are not for consumption but for decoration purposes only. To have them touch the frosting my suggestion is to use organic non toxic varieties like the ones listed in the post. Hope this helps!

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