Flowers play an important role in funeral tradition.
Flowers and floral arrangements can be used to convey different emotions and express many feelings. In this article we discuss different types of funeral flowers, arrangements, and colors that can be used to honor your loved one and express sympathy for the family of the deceased.
Types of Funeral Flower Arrangements
There are many different types of arrangements that are used to pay tribute to the deceased. They also offer condolences and sympathy for the grieving family. Many are meant to be displayed at the funeral or memorial service, but they can also be sent directly to the home of the loved one’s family.
A casket spray is used to adorn the top of a casket. This flower arrangement serves as the main floral tribute from the closest family members of the deceased. A casket spray is made of different combinations of flowers and green foliage. After the burial, families may choose to place the casket spray on the grave of their loved one.
A standing spray is a flower arrangement that is displayed on an easel. Similar to a casket spray, it is one of the main floral tributes from grieving family members. The standing spray is placed near the casket and it is strictly meant for services such as a funeral, memorials, and graveside services.
A casket blanket is a blanket of flowers draped over the top portion of a casket. It is constructed by placing fresh flowers on a piece of fabric. The flowers are then attached with wires and floral adhesives. During an open casket viewing, the casket blanket covers the bottom portion of the casket.
Funeral Flower Pillow
A funeral pillow is a floral arrangement shaped like a pillow. It is meant to adorn the casket as the pillow symbolizes the peace and comfort that you wish for the deceased. The funeral pillow can be given by anyone from family members to friends and co-workers.
A funeral wreath is a popular floral arrangement with a circular shape. Wreaths are meant to symbolize eternal life or the cycle of life and death. A funeral wreath can be arranged in different styles and colors. Similar to a funeral pillow, a wreath can be given by anyone such as family members, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances.
Funeral Hearts and Crosses
Funeral wreaths and crosses are unique tributes for the deceased. The heart represents love and care for the grieving family while the cross symbolizes faith and spirituality. Funeral hearts are usually made of red, pink, and/or white flowers. Funeral crosses are usually created with white flowers. Both arrangements are generally sent from immediate family members.
Flower baskets are usually sent as sympathy presents as you offer your support and compassion for the family who lost a loved one. Flower baskets are smaller than other prominent floral arrangements and are usually given by friends of the deceased and the surviving family.
This is a good idea if you are away and unable to attend the funeral or memorial service. Sending a flower basket as a heartfelt message will demonstrate you are thinking about them.
A dish garden or a sympathy plant is also another beautiful way to offer condolences and show support for the grieving family. The green colors present in dish gardens symbolize respect and white flowers mean innocence and rebirth.
We recommend Florist One to purchase your funeral flowers. They are a national seller that connects with local florists to offer a wide selection. You can read more about why we prefer Florist One in our guide to casket sprays.
Meaning of Different Funeral Flowers
Each type of funeral flower has a unique meaning and expresses a specific emotion. When considering flowers for the loss of a loved one, the language of flowers can add a personal touch. Let the flowers help express how you convey your feelings for the deceased and the surviving family.
The list below includes the most popular funeral flowers used in different floral arrangements. Each flower has a corresponding meaning that will help you express a meaningful message for the bereaved family.
Lilies are one of the most popular choices for funeral flowers because they symbolize innocence that is brought back to the soul of the deceased.
Carnations are another popular choice for funeral flowers. It is a delicate and modest flower. Carnations bloom at the height of summer when the weather is kind and gentle.
Daisies convey innocence. For many years, this sweet and tender flower has been used to symbolize innocence and lack of worldliness. It was derived from “day’s eye” because of the flower’s pupil-like yellow center and its ability to shut its petals whenever the sun is down.
Chrysanthemums bloom in November, which can be interpreted as the light of hope in dark times. Chrysanthemums have been associated with so many different meanings that they have become known as the Queen of fall flowers. It is a noble flower in East Asia. In China, Japan, and Korea, white chrysanthemums symbolize grief and lamentation. In Europe, incurve chrysanthemums symbolize death so they are often only used for funerals and graves. Another interpretation is that white chrysanthemums symbolize loyalty and devoted love, representing happiness, longevity and joy.
Gladioli, more familiarly known as glads, stands for remembrance and natural grace. They are known for their tall flower spikes and large, colorful blooms. In recent decades, gladioli have become more commonly used for funerals. Gladioli are often used in sprays, a prominent floral arrangement in funeral services.
The many meanings of a rose are dependent on its color. The most recognizable one is the red rose that signifies deep and passionate love. Additionally, the white rose symbolizes purity and silence. The white rose is also sometimes called the “flower of light”.
Orchids are elegant and graceful flowers that signify many different meanings such as beauty, love, thoughtfulness, integrity, and friendship. There are over 25,000 species of orchid, more than any other flower. The most appropriate species of orchids for sympathy flowers are Phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids, while the traditional colors for funerals are pink and white.
Hydrangeas symbolize heartfelt feelings and emotions. They are often used as accent flowers and commonly used by florists as a base in arrangements such as funeral crosses. Hydrangeas are available in many different colors that can be paired with other flowers to convey different meanings.
Daffodils signify regard for someone and unequaled love. The lovely appearance of a golden daffodil is a wonderful sight because it marks the end of winter and the start of a new season. Daffodils bloom around Easter time which is why they are also known as the Easter lily. (Technically, daffodils are members of the Amaryllidaceae family and not a true lily.)
Tulips symbolize renewal and a fresh start. These brightly colored flowers bloom during early spring and make a suitable sympathy gift to those who lost a loved one to offer encouragement and support.
Meaning of Funeral Flower Colors
In addition to the meaning of each type of flower used in funerals, the colors of a floral arrangement also signify a specific emotion and message.
Some flowers, such as roses and lilies, express different emotions based on their color alone.
For this reason, you should also consider the color to enhance the message that you want to express for the grieving family.
|Color and Meaning||Meaning||Type of Funeral Flower|
|White||Purity, innocence, honesty, perfection, elegance, thoughtful love|
White rose – innocence, youth, reverence, a new beginning, purity
White carnations – pure love, innocence, sweetness
White lilies – majesty, purity
White stargazer lilies – sympathyWhite chrysanthemum – truth
White orchids – innocence, elegance, purity White tulips – forgiveness.
|Red||Romantic love, passion, powerful love, desire||Red carnations – admiration, “my heart breaks”|
Red chrysanthemum – “I Love”
Red rose – love, “I love you”
Dark crimson rose – mourning
Red tulip – perfect love, passion
|Yellow||Friendship, filial love (from son or daughter), trust, compassion, respect, sympathy||Yellow daffodils – friendship|
Yellow orchids – friendship, happiness, new beginnings
Yellow tulip – cheerfulness, sunshine in your smile
|Pink||Innocence, playfulness, sensitivity, femininity, delicate, gentle, thoughtfulness, spontaneity||Pink roses – grace, happiness, gentleness|
Pink carnation – remembrance
Pink orchids – affection, joy, grace, femininity.
|Charm, grace, elegance and refinement, transition||Purple orchids – royalty, respect, admiration, dignity |
Purple tulips – royalty
|Blue||Serenity, calmness, sympathy||Blue orchids – rarity, spirituality, contemplation|
|Orange||Happiness and joy||Coral rose – friendship, modesty, sympathy Orange orchids – boldness, enthusiasm|
|Green||Harmony with nature, good fortune, wellness, health||Green orchids – life, health, longevity|
Funeral Flower Etiquette
Sending flowers is a perfect way to express sympathy after death. However, it is important to be familiar with common funeral etiquette when it comes to sending flowers. Consider the time, place and type of flowers to send.
There are also instances where funeral flowers are not appropriate depending on the religion and culture of the deceased. Here are some of the things to remember about funeral flower etiquette.
What Type of Funeral Flower to Send
- Flowers that will be placed on the casket should only be bought by the immediate family of the deceased.
- Close family members are also expected to buy large floral arrangements such as casket wreaths, hearts, and crosses.
- If you are a distant family member or a friend, you can choose a smaller floral arrangement that is not laid across the casket of the deceased. Other options are standing sprays, funeral baskets, and funeral plants.
If you are considering purchasing a large floral arrangement—or any that could be displayed during the funeral—consider reaching out to the family member planning the funeral.
When Flowers Should be Delivered
- If you are going to send a floral arrangement directly to a funeral home, church, or crematorium, it can be delivered on the day of the funeral. To avoid delays, order the flowers early and let the florist know when the funeral service is.
- It is appropriate to send flowers upon hearing of a person’s death. You can also wait until funeral arrangements are set and announced.
- It is also thoughtful to send flowers even a few weeks or a few months after the service in sympathy for the family. This will let the grieving family know that you are still thinking of them.
Where to Send the Flowers
- If the flowers will be displayed at the funeral, you should have them delivered directly to the funeral home, crematorium, or church where the service will take place. Just make sure that you indicate the name of the deceased and address of the venue so that it can be delivered seamlessly.
- For the immediate family, it is best to address your flowers directly to the funeral or gravesite.
- For members of the extended family, you have the option to send flowers to the service or it might be more appropriate to send sympathy flowers. These are flowers that are sent to the home of the deceased.
- For friends and co-workers, it is best to send flowers directly to the home of the person who died.
What to Include with Flowers
- You can include a card with the flowers that you give to the grieving family. The card is usually small, so you can opt for short messages such as “We are so sorry for your loss” or “With deepest sympathy”.
- Sign the card with your first and last name. Signing it with just your first name could lead to some confusion even if you think it is obvious.
What to Do With the Flowers After the Funeral
- What happens to flowers after the funeral service will depend on the family. They are often left behind at the venue or the grave especially if there are too many large arrangements. Families may decide to give them to close friends and extended family.
- Families may choose to press the flowers and save them as keepsakes. If there will be a scattering of ashes, families may also include the flowers.
- Another option is to donate the flowers to hospitals and nursing homes where other people can enjoy them.
- Tip: Remember to keep the cards from the floral arrangements given to you. It may help to delegate this task. An extra step is to keep them organized with a short description of the arrangement. Very helpful when it comes time to send a thank you note.
Deciding Whether You Should Send Flowers
- If you were friends with the deceased but you never met his or her family, you can still send flowers as a sign of respect for your friend. Surely the family will appreciate the gesture. Just include a short note stating how you knew the deceased.
- If you are close friends with a family member but you never met the deceased, it is still appropriate to send flowers. Your friend will appreciate this and it will let them know that you support them and you are thinking of them, even if you did not know their loved one.
- If you cannot attend the funeral, sending flowers becomes even more meaningful. It is a perfect way to offer your sympathy and support for the grieving family when you cannot be physically present for the service.
When Are Flowers Not Appropriate?
If the family requests donations “in lieu of flowers”, you should respect their request.
If you insist on sending flowers, we recommend also honoring their request for donation. You can add a note with the flowers letting them know that you also made a donation.
Be aware: some religions discourage or encourage flowers and particular types of flowers. We discuss this further in the next section.
Religious Funeral Flowers Etiquette
Some religions and cultures have restrictions when it comes to sending flowers for funerals. Here are some religious backgrounds that do not traditionally accept flowers:
Jewish Funeral Flowers
Flowers are not necessary at Jewish funerals and shiva calls since they perform immediate burials. It is more common to send fruit or food baskets to the home of the deceased.
Muslim Funeral Flowers
Muslim – In Islam, some people send flowers at funerals while some do not. However, it is common at Islamic funerals to place individual flowers with palm branches and some greenery on the grave of the deceased.
Buddhist Funeral Flowers
Buddhist – Red flowers are not acceptable in Buddhist funerals. The traditional colors of funeral flowers at Buddhist ceremonies are white or yellow since they signify mourning.
Hindu Funeral Flowers
Hindu – An Hindu funerals, sending flowers is not traditional or customary. However, flowers are not unwelcome and the family has the choice to accept them or not.
Mormon Funeral Flowers
Mormon – Although flowers are welcome in Mormon funerals, they should not be arranged in the shape of a cross because they do not use this as a symbol of faith.
If you have concerns about whether sending flowers to a funeral is appropriate or not, check with the funeral home or the family.
Funeral flowers are floral arrangements that are displayed at the funeral service. Funeral flowers are sent directly to the funeral home, church, or crematorium instead of the family’s home. They are usually larger and more elaborate than sympathy flowers. On the other hand, sympathy flowers are displayed at the home of the deceased. They are sent directly to the family’s home and generally smaller in size than the flowers displayed during the service.
The flowers that are best suited for a funeral are lilies, carnations, roses, chrysanthemums, and gladioli. These types of funeral flowers are used to convey sympathy.
Common floral arrangements displayed at funeral services are the casket spray, standing spray, casket blanket, funeral pillow, wreaths, hearts, crosses, and funeral baskets. Immediate family members generally choose floral arrangements that will be placed on the casket such as casket spray or casket blanket. If you are a close family member, it is appropriate to send large arrangements such as standing spray and funeral wreaths. For friends and co-workers, you can send funeral baskets as sympathy flowers or funeral wreaths.
It is appropriate to send flowers as soon as you hear about a death. You can also wait for notice of arrangements if you want to send them directly to the funeral home or service provider. For flowers to be displayed during the funeral service, it is best to send them on the day of the funeral. Place the order ahead of time to avoid delays.
You can order funeral flowers from your local florist or online flower shops. If you cannot visit the florist yourself, we suggest ordering from an online retailer of funeral flowers for convenience. You simply just have to browse from the catalog, choose the best funeral flower you want, and have it sent directly to the funeral home. Many online flower companies offer the same and next day shipping.
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