Can Orchids Be Used On Cakes? (Explained)

We all know orchids come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

For that reason theoretically, they could top off any cake beautifully.

But can orchids be used on cakes?

We examine the subject in-depth in this blog.

So let’s get started.

Can Orchids Be Used On Cakes?

Orchids are edible and can be used on cakes. Ideally you want to use orchids grown specifically for consumption or orchids that are free from pesticides, because whilst all varieties of orchids are edible, the pesticides used on them are most definitely not.

Ok so first things first the American Medical Association “Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants” doesn’t list any of the orchid family as being poisonous.

And on top of that literally any part of the orchid can be eaten, from the flowers right down to the roots.

So, that seems to point to the fact that orchids can be used on cakes right?

You are right.

But it isn’t as simple as getting an orchid from your garden, or from a florist and placing it on top of your cake.

Because whilst the flower may be safe, what the grower did to it might not be.

There are a few guidelines you need to follow first, especially if the flower is going to make direct contact with the cake.

If you are going to use orchids to decorate a cake, ideally you want to find some that have been grown specifically for consumption.

So you will want to look for organic growers in your area or find a certified flower farm that ships edible orchids direct.

Remember flowers from a florist are not grown with the intention of them being eaten.

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As Susan Reid, Food Editor of King Arthur Flour’s Sift Magazine explains:

“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.”

If you are using orchids that weren’t grown organically and may have been exposed to pesticides, then you need to be much more careful.

There needs to be a barrier between the orchid and the cake, more about this is explained below.

How Do You Attach An Orchid to a Cake?

Orchids on cake

If you have bought orchids from a certified flower farm, or that are guaranteed pesticide free, then you can be a little less concerned, although you still want to be careful.


Never push bare flower stems into a cake. This is a sure-fire way to transfer any chemicals into your cake.

Additionally, no wire should come into contact with your cake either. Wire rusts and sometimes is painted or treated with lead in the manufacturing process.

Even the floral tape is not food safe, as the dye used in it can bleed out.

If you are going to use orchids on a cake, you will want to insert them in floral spikes or wrap the ends completely in foil or plastic wrap, and then put them in a straw or a hollow plastic dowel before inserting into the cake.

You must ensure no uncovered part of the stem has direct contact with your cake.

Further to this, you want to make sure no part of the orchid has any direct contact with your cake, and there is a protective layer or plastic or material in place where that might be possible.

When you come to cut the cake, you want to remove the flowers altogether.

What Flowers Are Safe To Put On Cakes?

Ok so let’s assume you’ve found some nice organically grown flowers and you want to know if they are safe to put on your cake.

Because there is not much point in making sure the flowers are safely grown if they are actually toxic themselves.

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A large number of flowers are edible, including: Carnations, Chamomile, Chrysanthemums, Cornflower, Day Lily, Freesia, Gerber Daisy, Hibiscus, Lavender, Lisianthus, Marigold, Peony, Primrose, Queen Anne’s Lace, Roses, Sunflowers. Violas and Violets.

For an extensive list, and more details of what the flowers taste like visit the What’s Cooking America website.

What Flowers Cannot Be Put On Cakes?

Not all flowers are edible, and some are highly toxic if eaten. 

These include: Azaleas, Bluebells, Calla Lily, Clematis, Daffodils, Foxglove, Holly, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Lily-of-the-Valley, Mistletoe, Oleander, Poinsettia, Poppies, Rhododendron, Sweet Pea and Wisteria.

A full list of poisonous flowers is available on Wikipedia.

Are Orchids Edible?

I think we have already established orchids are completely edible, provide they have been safely grown and are free from pesticides, etc.

And as I already mentioned pretty much any part of an orchid can be eaten, although generally it is the flower that is the most popular choice to eat.

Orchids have actually been eaten for centuries, with various parts of the globe recognizing their nutritional benefits.

The American state of Hawaii has been eating orchids as salads and candies for decades now, in Singapore they are mixed with vegetables and meat as part of a stir fry dish and in neighboring Thailand the flowers of Dendrobrian orchids are dipped in batter and deep-fried.

Whilst Turkey and Greece have had longstanding diplomatic tensions throughout history, one thing they both agree on is that orchid ice-cream tastes good – it is popular in both countries. In South Africa orchid tubers are used to flavor meat sauces.

Of course one of the most popular flavorings associated with orchids is vanilla. This comes from the seed pod of the vanilla orchid, the world’s only edible fruit-bearing orchid.

What Do Orchids Taste Like?

Orchid flowers are said to have a “fresh and crisp taste similar to leafy vegetables”.

Of course with so many species available their taste will be as varied as their colors and sizes, some will be sweeter and some will be more bitter tasting.

When used as food, you will tend to see them as salad ingredients or in stir-fry dishes.

Nutritionally orchids are rich in Vitamin C which is vital for a healthy immune system, and are abundant in fiber, iron, calcium and potassium.

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Orchids as Medicine

Orchids have long been recognized for their medicinal purposes.

Their use in Chinese medicine dates back to 300BC when Dendrobium orchids began to be used for their anti-toxic purposes.

To this day, orchids are widely used in Chinese herbal medicine, mainly in the form of medicinal tea but also for other purposes, such as improving memory, treating rheumatism and improving eyesight.

Orchids also make salep, a traditional Turkish drink that is popular in the region and used to treat gum disease, sore throats, and a range of digestive issues.

Final Thoughts

Orchids very much can be used on cakes, as long as you are careful.

You will ideally want to use orchids grown especially for consumption, or certainly organically grown orchids that are free from pesticides.

Because whilst orchids are edible plants, the pesticides that some commercially grown orchids will contain certainly aren’t.

Even orchids that have pesticide traces on them can be used on cakes providing you take a few measures to ensure the flower doesn’t come into direct contact with the cake.

Good luck!

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