What’s the most traditional item to leave at a grave? Most people would say flowers. In fact, leaving flowers at a gravesite is a time-honored tradition that crosses many cultures and societal groups.
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You may struggle to know what type of flower to bring and how to secure the flowers to the gravesite. You may also not know how to leave flowers at a mausoleum or columbarium niche.
Let us assist you with leaving grave flowers by informing you of the main types of cemetery flower holders on the market. Some of the vases work better with plants, while others work better with single stems.
How Do Cemetery or Grave Flower Holders Work?
Most of the time, when people bring flowers to the cemetery, they want to figure out a way to secure the silk blooms near the headstone so they don’t blow away in the breeze. Most of the cemetery flower holders that are on our list have that purpose.
Those who leave fresh flowers on the grave may not worry about securing them since they won’t last long.
Here’s a list of the main types of cemetery flower holders on the market. Before investing in any of these pieces, consult the cemetery superintendent to learn the rules regarding floral displays. Some cemeteries have extremely strict rules and even prohibit synthetic flowers from being displayed. Some only allow flowers to be displayed if they don’t interfere with the work of the grounds crew.
Only purchase one of the following types of flower holders if you understand the specific rules for the cemetery where they will be displayed. Of course, you may want to consider the preference of the loved one you’re visiting. If your mother loved fresh peonies in the spring, leave some at her grave.
Main Types of Cemetery Flower Holders
As you look through our cemetery flower holder list, you’ll see that the flower holder type should be selected when purchasing the headstone. Some headstones come with built-in vases. Again, make sure these vases can be utilized at that particular cemetery before purchasing the accessory.
Most of the flower holders are a part of the headstone, stick into the ground, or are placed over the headstone.
Regardless of whether you have a permanent receptacle or something that can be changed with the season, consider grave flower etiquette. Not only should your display not interfere with the rules of the cemetery, but you should also be considerate of other people mourning the same person as you. Your display should also not interfere with headstones around your loved one’s.
1. Grass-level headstone with built-in vase
Grass-level (or flat) headstones can be purchased with a built-in base. Sometimes these vases can be recessed into the stone for storage when they aren’t in use. The vases are incredibly durable and are usually made of granite, metal, or another type of stone.
2. Slant memorial headstones with built-in vase
You can purchase a built-in vase for a slant headstone as well. The vase is usually placed at the base of the headstone or the stone levels out near the top to create a spot wide enough to set a vase.
3. Upright headstone with built-in vase
Upright headstones can be designed with a built-in vase as well. If the headstone is for multiple people, there are sometimes vases for each person.
4. Mounting flower pot holder
If the cemetery doesn’t have rules regarding attaching items to the gravestones, you may be able to mount a flower pot holder on the side of an upright headstone.
Some people choose to purchase two mounting flower holders to give symmetry to the floral display. Of course, you will need to know the stone’s width before buying a vase that mounts from the side.
5. Adhesive back flower holder
If your loved one’s headstone did not come with a built-in vase, you might consider purchasing an adhesive-backed flower holder for your loved one’s upright stone.
Consider consulting with a headstone expert before sticking anything to the surface of the stone, as the adhesive may mar the expensive gravestone.
6. Wreath hanger for slant or upright stone
Some families like hanging holiday wreaths on their loved one’s headstones. You can purchase a wreath holder, similar to the one you would use for putting a wreath on your front door. Some families choose to put the wreaths on the back of the stone so the decoration doesn’t cover up the name on the grave.
7. Flat stone vase holder
Since some cemeteries have rules that no decorations can be placed around the periphery of the headstone, you may consider purchasing a flat stone vase (or flower pot) holder.
These stick into the ground right next to a flat stone. Instead of disrupting the grounds crew from being able to trim the grass, these receptacles are several inches tall. They form a crook near the headstone so the flowers can float above the surface of the stone.
8. Saddle flower holder
Depending on the width of your loved one’s upright monument, you may consider placing a swag over the top of the headstone.
Consider purchasing a saddle flower holder to hold the decoration in place. Saddle flower holders come in different widths, so make sure you know the width of your loved one’s grave before purchasing the accessory.
9. Grave blanket
Grave blankets are popular in some areas of the U.S. They are usually made with evergreens and may also include pinecones, baby’s breath, ribbons, and other seasonal decorations. Since grave blankets sit on the ground, they are usually not secured.
10. Cone vases
Cone vases can be purchased already decorated or empty. They are usually plastic vases that are shaped like a cone and placed on a spike. The spike can be driven into the ground next to any type of headstone. Usually, cone vases do not interfere with the work of the grounds crew.
11. In-ground plant stands
Using an in-ground plant stand at a cemetery may be risky, as there is little you can do to protect them from the wind. You may consider this type of stand if it is allowed at the cemetery, and you can monitor it often.
12. Shepherd’s hooks
Shepherd's hooks can be placed in the ground at some cemeteries and they can be used to display hanging baskets of flowers. The hanging baskets can be used for artificial or real flower displays.
13. Planting perennials
Some rural or church-affiliated cemeteries may allow mourners to plant peonies, lilies, irises, or other perennials at a loved one’s gravesite. Most modern cemeteries do not allow this type of decoration.
14. Fresh stems on top of the headstone
Some people prefer only leaving fresh flowers at a cemetery. You may leave the fresh blooms inside one of the listed receptacles or you may choose to leave the flowers on the actual headstone.
15. Columbarium niche vase
Sometimes there are vases available outside columbarium niches. These usually adhere to the side of the wall and are large enough to hold a few blooms.
Some columbarium walls have a vase installed outside each niche. Other times, the vase can be purchased as an accessory.
16. Crypt vase
Some mausoleums have a crypt vase attached to the side of the wall to display floral tributes. This is true for both indoor mausoleums and those that mourners visit on the outside of the structure. Again, vases may be considered an accessory, so there may be an additional charge for those.
Sometimes mourners visiting both columbarium niches and crypts may stick flowers behind plaques with their loved one’s name.
17. Cremation monument vases
Some families want to have a headstone in a cemetery for a loved one who was cremated. These monuments, called cremation monuments, can come equipped with a vase.
18. Funeral flowers
Regardless of the cemetery’s regular rules regarding flowers, most cemeteries allow mourners to leave funeral flowers at the site of the cemetery immediately after the funeral.
Usually, the grounds crew cleans up the arrangements after a few days.
Other Thoughts About Cemetery Flowers
If you decide to leave flowers at your loved one’s grave, consider how you will secure them. It would be frustrating to go to the time and expense of purchasing flowers only to have them blow away on the first windy day.
While you are visiting the cemetery, be considerate of those around you. Besides being quiet and giving other visitors a wide berth, use headstone etiquette. For example, don’t use glass receptacles or decorations — they may shatter. And be considerate of how much ground space you use for the decorations around the headstone.
Finally, talk with other people who may be bringing cemetery flowers to the same grave. Sometimes feathers get ruffled when one party removes another party’s displays.