Updated: Jul 25
Fresh flowers are widely used as a beautiful addition to wedding cakes. However, when browsing on Instagram and Pinterest it can be misleading and it’s easy to assume that any flower is suitable for cake decoration. Unfortunately, many uneducated cake makers are using toxic and even poisonous varieties of flowers. This is a serious health risk which could result in allergic reaction, serious gastrointestinal upset or even death. So, let’s discuss this in more detail.
Commercial flowers have been produced using organic and inorganic fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, preservatives and even dyes designed to maximise profit and ensure shelf life. Whilst this option is not ideal, if prepared properly non-toxic varieties of flowers can be made more food safe.
What non toxic flowers can I use on a cake?
Non-toxic means these flowers shouldn’t be eaten, but they are ok to use on the cake. They won’t cause any serious harm if anything is transferred onto the cake or if accidentally ingested.
When compared to sugar or artificial flowers, fresh flowers will never be 100% food safe. However, following these steps will help ensure they are made as food safe as possible.
Wash and dry the flowers completely before using. This will get rid of any dirt or bugs that could be inside. Trim the stems, remove any excess leaves or thorns. Wrap stems in florist tape and insert into a straw, or posy pick (stems should never be inserted directly into the cake, even once wrapped in florist tape).
What edible flowers can I use on a cake?
My preference would be to always use organic edible flowers. These would be grown by organic farmers and produced using no chemicals or pesticides. There are several options available for edible flowers:-
Forget Me Nots
Roses, dog roses
All herb varieties
There are more varieties, however these are the most common. Pressing them is also a great option for using edible flowers and can produce a really beautiful result.
Is Baby’s Breathe toxic on cakes?
Yes, Baby’s Breathe or Gyposphilia is toxic and should never be used as cake decoration on cakes or any other food product. There are many uneducated and potentially uninsured and unregistered cake makers out there that will use this as cake decoration. It can cause allergic reactions, and all components contain poisonous chemicals that cause dermatitis, trouble breathing, and irritation of the nose and sinuses. The sap from Baby’s Breath can cause contact dermatitis, that causes itching and a rash. The dried blossoms of Baby’s Breath can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and sinuses in some circumstances. So, it’s a big no no!
Which flowers are toxic/ poisonous and shouldn’t be used on cakes?
These flowers produce allergic reactions, dermatitis, nausea, diarrhoea, convulsions, asphyxiation and death. You would think I had lost my marbles if I started decorating a cake with some arsenic or asbestos wouldn’t you? Decorating a cake with toxic or poisonous flowers is no different. You are risking your guest’s health and potentially life if they were to be consumed.
These lists are not exhaustive; however, this gives you a good basis to start.
Craspedia / Billy Ball
Frangipani / Plumeria
Lilies (inc. lily of the valley)
Are sugar flowers food safe?
Yes, they are! Whilst they may contain non edible items such a polystyrene balls, stamens and wires they are food safe. Wire stems should never be inserted directly into the cake. Food safe barriers such as straws or posy picks should always be used, but if these steps are followed then these are the best option for food safety. Sugar flowers will also last for years if stored correctly and are a beautiful keepsake. I regularly make ranunculus, anemone, sweet pea, hydrangea, and eucalyptus in sugar form. The fact that toxic or poisonous flowers can be copied in sugar is a huge bonus!
When considering using real flowers on a wedding cake, it's crucial to think about food safety and making responsible choices. Please take the time to do your own research, talk to organic growers, florists, and your cake designer. Gather all the information you need to make an informed decision. Prioritising these steps will help ensure a safe and enjoyable wedding cake for everyone.
If you would like to discuss options for your dream cake, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.