How to Choose the Right Flowers to Place on a Grave
Choosing the right flowers to place on the grave of someone you loved can be a source of stress and confusion. You want to find the perfect arrangement, but with so many to choose from, you’re afraid you’ll get it wrong.
Here are some ideas and recommendations to consider that will hopefully make the decision easier for you.
Know Your Cemetery’s Rules
First of all, most cemeteries will have a set of rules regarding the placement of flowers. Make sure you know these rules prior to making any flower decisions. This is particularly important when it comes to National Cemeteries, as their rules can be quite strict.
There’s no point in purchasing and placing flowers that will immediately be thrown away because you didn’t obey the rules.
Artificial or Real Flowers?
The next thing to think about is do you want to place real or artificial flowers. We recommend artificial flowers for cemeteries for several reasons. First of all, they obviously last longer. A fresh flower arrangement will be dried up and look bad within a few days of placing them. Whereas artificial flowers can stay looking great for up to a year.
Artificial flowers will also stand up to wind and other harsh weather conditions, and finally…artificial arrangements are significantly less expensive than real flowers (especially if you buy them online).
When Will You be Placing the Flowers on a Grave?
Consider when you’re going to be placing the flowers, because it will have a big impact on your selection. Some flowers just look at fit better in certain seasons than others. Obviously, any day is a great time to leave flowers, but here are the most popular times to do so.
- Valentine’s Day – Red roses are very popular choices.
- Spring / Easter (4/12/2020) – Bright pastel colors are popular for Spring and Easter. Calla Lilies are a great choice for Christian representation, and Daffodils are also a good choice.
- Mother’s Day (5/10/2020) – Like Valentine’s Day red roses are the most popular choice for Mother’s Day. As always, Mom’s favorite color and/or flower type should always be considered.
- Memorial Day (5/25/2020) – Red, white, and blue arrangements are extremely popular on Memorial Day, particularly when honoring a veteran or other US patriot. Carnations and poppies are popular, as well.
- Father’s Day (6/21/2020) – More traditionally masculine colors, such as dark blues, are popular for Father’s Day. However, this is also a good time to consider team colors from Dad’s favorite team or Alma Mater.
- 4th of July – Like Memorial Day, patriotic colors rule the cemetery for Independence Day.
- Veteran’s Day – Once again, this is a good time to stay with the Memorial Day choices.
- Fall / Thanksgiving (11/26/2020) – Traditional Autumn colors such as yellow, oranges, browns, and dark purples are perfect for the season.
- Winter / Christmas – Arrangements with Poinsettias and Hollies are extremely popular for the winter and Christmas seasons. Look for strong colors that will stand out in gray or snowy conditions.
- Wedding Anniversary
- Anniversary of Passing
For special dates like these, your flower choices should be more personal. Consider using the same type and color of flowers you may have given the deceased while they were still with you. Otherwise, think about what they would like, or alternatively, what you would like.
What Style of Flower Arrangement Should You Use?
Wreaths are customary at funerals as symbols of life, death, and the immortality of the soul. A wreath is typically used at a grave site as a symbol of hope that the spirit has moved on and surpassed the death of the body. Crosses are obviously Christian in nature, and symbolize eternal life.
Some arrangement styles, such as headstone saddles, vases, and flower pots don’t have any particular symbolism, but are used simply because they look nice.
What Type and Color of Flowers Do You Bring to a Cemetery?
Below are the symbolic meanings of many flowers that are popular in cemetery flower arrangements. Hopefully, one or more of these symbolic representations will remind you of your loved one, and spark some ideas.
Roses are the most popular flowers you will find in cemeteries. Each color has its own symbolic representation. Red roses are symbolic of passionate love and are a popular choice for a spouse. A pink rose represents friendship. Yellow roses are symbolic of zealousness, however they are also a popular choice for Texans. A white rose symbolizes purity. This is more indicative of the color white, rather than the fact that it’s a rose.
The Poppy represents consolation, but is also very symbolic for veterans. The connection dates back to World War I, when a Canadian military surgeon, who was also a poet, was struck by the sight of the red flowers on a ravaged battlefield. He wrote a poem titled, “In Flanders Field”, where he discussed the fallen soldiers buried under the field of poppies.
Calla Lilies symbolize marriage and fidelity. While they are grown in other colors, they are most often white, which represents purity.
The Sunflower is representative of adoration and dedication. It’s also a very popular choice for cemeteries in Kansas or for former Kansas residents buried elsewhere.
Peonies are symbolic of healing. From the cemetery perspective, it regards the emotional healing of those left behind after someone has passed away.
The Zinnia represents thoughts of friends.
Daisies symbolize innocence and purity.
Carnations are another flower who’s meaning varies by color. Red carnations represent flashy, pink is indicative of gratitude, and white signifies remembrance.
Amaryllis is a flower symbolic of splendid beauty. It’s also used to indicate worth beyond beauty.
The Chrysanthemum symbolizes fidelity, optimism, joy and long life. A red chrysanthemum conveys love, while a white chrysanthemum symbolizes truth and loyalty.
Daffodils symbolize regard and chivalry. They are indicative of rebirth, new beginnings and eternal life. They also symbolize unrequited love. Since they are one of the first flowers to appear in the Spring, they are a popular choice for Spring and Easter arrangements.
The Lilac symbolizes youthful innocence and confidence. The white lilac symbolizes humility and innocence, the field lilac symbolizes charity, and the purple lilac symbolizes first love.
Lilies symbolize purity and refined beauty. The white lily symbolizes modesty and virginity, the orange lily symbolizes passion, the yellow lily symbolizes gaiety, while Lily of the Valley symbolizes sweetness and purity of heart. The Easter lily is the symbol of the Virgin Mary.
The Orchid is symbolic of delicate or exotic beauty. It symbolizes refinement, thoughtfulness and mature charm. It also symbolizes proud femininity.
Tulips signify a declaration of love. They also symbolizes fame and perfect love. They are very popular in the Spring.
In regards to flower colors, ideas can come from what was the person’s favorite color. Alternatively, team colors from their favorite sports team or their Alma Mater are also great choices.
Can You Have Flowers Delivered to a Cemetery?
Most cemeteries will accept flower deliveries, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will placed on a particular grave site. Check with your cemetery to see if they offer placement services.
If they don’t offer placement services, but cemetery is owned by a church, there might be volunteers willing to place the flowers for you. Another option is to see if there are any local grave tending services. If so, they will place your flowers (for a fee).
How do You Keep Flowers from Blowing Away in a Cemetery?
The best way to keep your flowers for the longest time possible is to anchor them to the headstone. If they’re placed on the stone, but not anchored, they’re likely to blow away, or possibly even be stolen.
If they’re placed on the ground, it’s likely the groundskeepers will remove them next time they mow. Depending upon the time of year, that could mean that your flowers only stay on the grave site for a few days.
For saddle arrangements, wreaths, and even bouquets, a headstone flower anchor will make sure that your flower arrangement stay secured to the headstone. This will ensure your flowers are still on your loved one’s grave for the longest time possible.
While there’s a lot to think about when choosing flowers to place on a grave, remember that there is no wrong choice. Anything you do from your heart to honor your loved one will be seen as such.
Follow your heart, and your flower choice will be perfect.
I always leave flowers for my lovely bride, and of course, leave her favorite red roses. However, I can see how this would be hard for others.
Choosing the right flower to put on the grave sounds easy, but this article enlightens me with the symbols of each flower. I’ll definitely choose the most meaningful flower for my gravestone designs
It’s always a good idea to check cemetery rules before taking flowers out there. This is especially true for Veterans’ cemeteries. Their rules tend to be much more strict than others.
The flowers rules for VA cemeteries vary on a cemetery by cemetery basis. They don’t all have the same rules and requirements. We recommend looking up their website, because they typically have their regulations regarding both flowers and other decorations on their sites.
I AM NOW JUST GOING TO TAKE A PICTURE OF ME WITH MY FLOWERS I BOUGHT AT MY EX-HUSBANDS NATIONAL CEMETARY BECAUSE I AM NOT TO LEAVE FLOWERS AT A VETERANS CEMETARY.
Can you leave flowers on a grave in a VA cemetery for Veterans Day?
My brother just passed away. I am trying to plan the funeral. It would be great to get a custom grave marker and put beautiful tulips by the grave, as this is a declaration of love like you mentioned.
I’ve always struggled with what kind of flowers to leave for my late husband on Father’s Day. Thanks for the ideas!