Peace Lilies for Funerals: Symbolism & Care

Updated

Did you know there’s an entire language to flowers? It’s true, and it used to be a common way for people to communicate, especially in Victorian times. Today, flowers still play a large role in many communities and cultures. They’re gifted for weddings, funerals, holidays, and birthdays. One of the most common types of plants associated with life milestones is peace lilies. They’re a way to celebrate life and share grief during a loss. 

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With a wide world of flower meanings, it’s not always clear what specific plants or flowers mean. The peace lily, as the name implies, is known as the bringer of peace. It’s a sign of togetherness, compassion, and kindness. Over time, these lilies became associated with funerals in particular.

What’s the symbolism behind peace lilies for funerals and how do you care for them? If you’re sending flowers to a funeral, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. The beautiful peace lily makes a great choice, making this stylish plant a favorite for many. 

How to Recognize a Peace Lily

You don’t have to be a plant specialist or florist to recognize peace lilies. Officially called Spathiphyllum, this is a plant that originates in the tropical rainforest of Venezuela and Colombia. Introduced in Europe in the 1870s, there are now over 50 known cultivars of the peace lily. They all have standard recognizable features, making this an eye-catching plant. 

The peace lily is identified by its soft, dark, and pointed leaves. White bracts in between, but these aren’t the actual flowers. Though they’re easily mistaken as flowers, these stems are actually leaves. Instead, the actual flowers are tiny and within the spike of the stems. The white and green colors of this plant are eye-catching and calming, giving it a unique appearance. 

You can recognize a healthy peace lily by the shape of its stems and leaves. If they’re dropping low, it’s in need of water. When upright and strong, this is a healthy, happy peace lily. 

Why Are Peace Lilies Associated With Funerals or Sympathy?

With that in mind, why are peace lilies associated with funerals or condolences? Flowers have been a way to express sympathy for thousands of years. Historically, these were a practical part of funerals. Because funerals featured the decaying dead, it was important to have fresh plants and flowers to mask the odor

Though we have modern ways to preserve bodies, flowers are still commonplace at funerals as a sign of respect. In conservative Victorian times, flowers were used to express things that couldn’t be said out loud. The language of flowers developed to share feelings of romance, friendship, compassion, and so much more. 

Peace lilies, in particular, are a meaningful gift. They symbolize purity, rebirth, tranquility, and innocence. They are a way to physically show your support and compassion for someone in a time of pain. They’re also naturally known for their air purification qualities. Not only is this a practical way to support someone, but it’s also a kind gesture. With so many types of funeral flowers to choose from, peace lilies are a popular pick. 

Another important point to consider is that peace lilies are houseplants, not flowers. While flowers are stunning for a short while, this is a short-lived beauty. Flowers wilt and die, leaving little behind. Peace lilies are easy to care for, and they continue to grow and symbolize compassion for years to come. 

What Types of Arrangements Feature Peace Lilies?

While you can give an entire peace lily plant, you can also gift an arrangement. When you gift a peace lily arrangement, the flowers are typically cut from the plant to create a full, stunning bouquet. Here are common arrangements you’ll find mixed with peace lilies. 

Roses

Another common flower associated with funerals is roses. Each color rose has its own meaning. White roses and red roses are most commonly paired with peace lilies. The contrast in color is striking, while the meaning behind both flowers remains the same. 

Orchid

Orchids have a strong meaning similar to peace lilies. They’re a way to express unyielding love. When you gift an orchid with a peace lily, you send something that is designed to last a long time. These stunning blooms are complementary and unique. 

Chrysanthemums

Also known as “mums,” chrysanthemums symbolize both love and innocence. They’re also a way to show honor and respect. This delicate, lovely flower looks beautiful paired with the simpler, majestic peace lily blooms. 

Hyacinth

The hyacinth is a common flower found in arrangements because it’s very versatile. This is commonly believed to represent compassion. They’re found in all colors and sizes, making them easy to pair with just about anything. 

Hydrangea

Last but not least, hydrangeas symbolize heartfelt emotions and feelings. Hydrangeas are bountiful blooms, creating quite the vision when paired with the stark white peace lily. Though less commonly used as a funeral flower, hydrangeas are just as beautiful and meaningful. 

How Do You Care for a Peace Lily?

Next, you don’t need to have any extensive floral experience to care for peace lilies. Unlike other houseplants and flowers, this option doesn’t require much of a green thumb. Because they’re so easy to care for, peace lilies are a great first-time houseplant or gift. They survive easily in a home or office, making it a versatile choice. 

Still, like any plant, there are a few things you need to know about care and maintenance. As any tropical plants, these blooms thrive on the forest floor where they get constant moisture and sunlight. You’ll need to do your best to replicate these conditions at home. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Poisonous: The peace lily is mildly poisonous if ingested in large amounts. Keep this plant away from small children or pets. 
  • Soil: Use a well-draining, all-purpose potting soil and report this plan annually. 
  • Water: The peace lily requires moist soil, but don’t overwater it. If the leaves start to droop or brown, it’s in need of more water. 
  • Humid: Misting the leaves regularly increases the humidity around the plant, helping it reach its full potential. 
  • Lighting: Peace lilies like sunlight, but keep them away from the direct afternoon sun. An east-facing window is ideal. If your plant isn’t flowering, it’s in need of more light. 

What Can You Do With a Peace Lily After a Funeral?

It’s common to wonder what to do with funeral flowers after the service. Though these make a great tribute during a memorial service, what about after? Luckily, there are so many things you can do with a peace lily, like these ideas below.

Keep it in your home

The first option is to keep your peace lily plant in your home. This is a reminder of the compassion of your loved ones, and it’s also a symbol of life. These plants are easy to care for, and they suit a variety of different climates. 

Decorate your office

A peace lily is also a great office plant. Because they don’t require much care to maintain, you can easily leave a peace lily in your office. They will do fine if left alone for a few days at a time, and they can even survive in lower light conditions. 

Plant your peace lily outside

If you live in a warm, tropical climate, you might also wish to plant your peace lily outside. This is a lovely tribute, and it brings your loved one’s memory to the outdoors. However, pay close attention to your planting conditions and placement to help your plant survive. 

Leave the plant on the grave

Some cemeteries allow you to leave potted plants on loved one’s graves. While you’ll need to check specific rules for your cemetery, this can be a very special type of grave decoration. That being said, always check in on your plant regularly to make sure it’s doing well. 

Donate the plant

Last but not least, consider donating the plant if you’d rather not care for it yourself. Though a peace lily is easy to care for, you might not wish to have a plant in your home for any number of reasons. Donating your plant to a hospital, hospice, senior center, or nonprofit shares compassion with your community. 

The Most Peaceful of Houseplants

As the name implies, the peace lily is a source of comfort and peace for many. Though you can choose from an endless list of funeral flowers, more people are opting for houseplants like the peace lily. These are a touching, beautiful tribute, and they last much longer than funeral flowers. 

Whether you’ve received a peace lily at a funeral or you’re purchasing one for someone else, this guide ensures you know the real meaning behind this gift. Flowers represent both life and death. Though they don’t bloom forever, their time with us is always meaningful and bright. 


Sources:
  1. “Growing Peace Lilies.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Almanac.com
  2. “Peace Lily.” The Joy of Plants. TheJoyofPlants.co.uk
  3. Sood, Tanya. “What Does Gifting a Plant Actually Mean?” Ferns n Petals. Fnp.com
  4. “Why Do We Have Flowers at Funerals?” Interflora. Interflora.com.au
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