How To Make Moth Orchids & How To Get Them Trailing Down

Decorating By emma_123 Updated 25 Jan 2012 , 9:47am by bashini

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emma_123 Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 2:20pm
post #1 of 13


I've been asked to make a wedding cake for my friends son and I'm completely stuck. The bride wants trailing moth orchids down a 4 tier wedding cake and I'm having so much trouble with them. I've never made any flowers apart from roses and never had lessons on them either and I've spent hours looking at tutorials online (on youtube and various websites) and have got two Alan Dunn books but still can't make the silly things.

I have a set of cutters and veiners but everytime I try and assemble the petals they tend to fall off the wire and I can't get them right (I tried wetting the paper covered wires and that didn't seem to help). I've been using sugarpaste with CMC added as my flowerpaste only arrived today - will flowerpaste make any difference? When I've got the flowers on the wires how long should I be leaving them to dry? When I need to get the wires all together to make the stem and keep them together everything just breaks - what am I doing wrong?

I've got two months until the wedding and am really struggling with this and am not sure I'm going to be able to do it, I have no idea how to make the flowers let alone arrange them trailing down the cake (on wires not attached to the cake).

If anybody could help I'd be very grateful, I've shed tears over this today as I'm so frustrated!

12 replies
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letsgetcaking Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 9:50pm
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I'm not sure what you mean by "on wires not attached to the cake." Do you mean something like this?

I have never made gum paste flowers, but I'd like to learn. I recently made a wedding cake for my sister that required gum paste orchids. I knew I didn't have time to learn how to make them before the wedding, so we ordered them online. They were a lot cheaper than I was expecting ($4.25 for 5 orchids), and I think they looked great. That's an option if you run out of time. Here's a link to the company we used:

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. Hopefully someone with more knowledge in this area will come along.

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All4Show Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 10:03pm
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Jennifer Dontz has a DVD with supply package, but it is a cymbidium. Google to see if you can find a DVD on moths. I know I can't do anything from a book. I have to have a visual. Without Jennifer I would have never been able to learn a full-blown rose.

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All4Show Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 10:05pm
post #4 of 13

Jennifer also has a flower arranging DVD.

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milkmaid42 Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 10:23pm
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I'm sorry you are having trouble with the moth orchid. Once you get the hang of them, they are a fun flower to make. I make mine with Nick Lodge's gumpaste recipe and find it is the one I am most successful with. I don't know if it is available on-line any more, but I can send it to you if you want to pm me. I also have Alan Dunn's books, but you might want to look at this tutorial. It is very helpful.

As Alan Dunn suggests, I often use egg white on my wires, or you can use any one of these recipes for edible glues:
I: Nick Lodges recipe:
1.  Bring one cup of tap water to a rolling boil and remove from the heat.
2.   Add 1/2 heaped teaspoon of Tylose powder to the water. Stir well with a fork to break up the Tylose. Allow to cool, stirring often to dissolve.
3. If necessary, place the mixture in the refrigerator overnight to allow the Tylose to dissolve.
4. Place in an airtight bottle when cool. Has a shelf life of approximately 30 to 60 days, but will keep longer if kept refrigerated when not in use.
In a small, heat-proof sterilized jar, place 1 part gum tragacanth to 3-4 parts hot water. Stir and replace lid and leave to dissolve. If too thick, add more water.
Mash a small piece of gumpaste with a small amount of edible glue. It will turn into a soft gum consistency and will be strong enough to assemble larger items and repairs.
Really strong: Unas super glue
Marble sized piece of fondant
2 t. Powdered sugar
¼ t. Glucose
¼ t. Tylose
1 t. Water

Microwave 30 seconds. Stir and heat again. Use in piping bag, or dilute and brush.

As to having them cascade down the cake without wires being inserted into the cake, I suppose you could wire several together and starting from the bottom up, attach them with melted white chocolate, allowing the bottom ones to support those on top?

I have several examples in my gallery, if you want an example. Whatever you choose to do, I wish you the best. They can really add to a cake.

Edited to add: I prefer version # III for most work.

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bashini Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 10:41pm
post #6 of 13

Hi Emma, so sorry to hear you are having trouble making the moth orchids. I never use sugarpaste with cmc for my flowers, always flowerpaste. When you roll out the paste, don''t roll it too thin and make sure you keep the middle part of the petal thick (can't remember what the exact word you use for it, is it the vein?) Then use sugarglue/eggwhite as milkmaid42 mentioned to dip your wire and then insert it into the thick middle part of the petal. I normaly let the petals dry completely.

I did a wedding cake last year and it was a 5 tiers with moth orchids trailing down. It is in my photos if you want to have a look. I made 11 flowers altogether and made 3 sprays from them. Then stuck them in the cake to look like they are trailing down. I used flower picks to insert the sprays.

HTH. icon_smile.gif

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Springrl Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 10:55pm
post #7 of 13

I also use egg white and it works perfectly, but don't put too much of it, just so that it is slightly wet...

And about the breaking the best recommendation is to just do more than you need because almost every time something breaks. And don't roll it too thin.
Or even better if the bride agrees you can use cold porcelain - she can easily save it as a souvenir practically forever and you can be sure that the flowers won't break.

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milkmaid42 Posted 23 Jan 2012 , 11:50pm
post #8 of 13

Yes, always make more than you'd think you would need. As to cold porcelain, I love the luminescence of CP, but all the literature says it should never come in contact with the cake. I have made flowers with it, but have separated them from the actual cake with a plaque or dome of fondant or even gumpaste.


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Evoir Posted 24 Jan 2012 , 12:50am
post #9 of 13

Petals, sepals etc need to dry properly before assembling. If its humid where you are, you can place them in an oven overnight with just the oven light on, or use a food dehydrator. I use fondant + typlose to make most flowers. Still, I weoulf let them dry 48 hours normally.

Moth orchids are beautiful, but they are a tricky orchid compared to cymbidium for example,a s there are a few more steps.

Unless you are on a mission to make them yourself, I would seriously consider buying them premade, then colour them up as desired and use them.

To have them trailing, you need to carefully wire them down a longer wire, unlike your usual wired arrangements. If you have not done much posy or flower arranging on wires, then try practicing WITHOUT fiddly orchids first - just use some spare wired roses or similar to get used to the process of placing and wiring in an attracting way.

The last orchid cake I made had three tiers, with trailing orchids down it, and I had them originating from three spots on the cake, not one trail of orchids from one point on top (photo in my pics).


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emma_123 Posted 24 Jan 2012 , 11:20am
post #10 of 13

Thank you for all your replies.

Sorry I wasn't clear but yes, letsgetcaking that picture is exactly what I meant the bride wants it to look something that that or the one in Evior's gallery (which is beautiful).

I'm in the UK (sorry should have said that too!) so not sure I could buy from the same website and part of me really wants to be able to make them too as I've enjoyed making roses before and would like to learn something new (I could regret that statement as the wedding gets closer though!)

I will try using some egg-white or glue for the wires then maybe that would help as would leaving them to dry for so long too as I hadn't been that (Alan Dunn said they needed to be slightly flexible and not set when assembling but it really wasn't working).

I've got some flower picks to attach the flowers to the cake - for four tiers though would it be one long arrangement or two smaller ones? Also, I'll probably be assembling it at the venue (no SPS or anything like that here so its not secure enough to assemble before delivering and the roads are bumpy around here!) so what is the best way of transporting the flowers - will they need to be shaped to fit the cake when they are put together into a spray or can you just put them in one line and move them around when putting it together or will that increase the risk of breakages?

I really wish she hadn't chosen this but I guess its her wedding she should have what she wants I just would have preferred something easier!

Thanks again x

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mmmmmmmmcake1954 Posted 24 Jan 2012 , 11:47am
post #11 of 13

Hi emma, you definitely need to use flowerpaste to make your orchids, have a look on youtube as you can usually find some good tutorials on there. I would also make smaller sprays of flowers to cover each tier (say 3 or 4) rather than 2 long sprays for say 4 tier cake, also make extra in case of breakages, I would also make the sprays with a slight natural curve. Personally I would also assemble the cake and flower sprays at the venue, but I do think you should use dowels in the bottom 3 tiers for support, these can be put in before transporting to venue. if you keep the sprays of flowers on crumpled tissue paper in a cardboard box for transportation they should be ok. HTH icon_smile.gif

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Evoir Posted 25 Jan 2012 , 3:15am
post #12 of 13

Crumpled tissue in a good cardbox box is great to transport. You can make and assemble the flowers at home, then pull them out of their posy pick to transport and re-place them at the venue.

I do tend to deliver all assembled however. I place tissue paper behind and around the sprays.

There is usually enough length in the wiring from stem to flower to bend it into the right place, and adjust. But, its always a risk of breakage.

I havenen't ever had much success with leaving them slightly flexible to assemble. But now I do my orchids a bit different in that I do the centres and dry completely, then add all the petals and sepals and stick them directly to the centres instead of wiring individually. To my mind its far more realistic for singapores and cymbidiums.

For moth orchids though - I would dry each component, wired, completely in the correct formers. Apple trays work really well! I'll see if I can post a photo of my moth orchid from last year.

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bashini Posted 25 Jan 2012 , 9:47am
post #13 of 13

Hi Emma, I would stack the cakes at home. I am sure you are using dowels under the cakes and I would put blobs of royal icing under the first three tiers from the top for extra support. I would make 8/9 flowers and do 2 or 3 sprays. Before you take them to the venue, just hold it on to the cake to see how you would like them to be. Once you are at the venue, insert them into the cake with the flower picks. Cake box and tissue paper/ bubble wrap is a good way of transporting the flowers. icon_smile.gif

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