For many people, the death of a pet is just as profound a loss as the death of any human member of their family. When a person dies, there’s a certain kind of comfort to be found in the trappings that surround death.
People gather together to support us at funerals and during the mourning process. But with the death of a pet, we don’t often get the same level of community support and we may have a difficult time processing our grief.
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Setting up a memorial in honor of a pet can help give you a space to remember your companion and think about the times you spent together. A memorial that includes plants will give you a living thing to tend to which may help give you a sense of purpose while you’re grieving. Here we explore some plants that would be appropriate for either an indoor or outdoor pet memorial.
Plant Ideas for a Pet’s Outdoor Memorial
If your pet loved spending time outdoors, you may find some comfort from creating a pet memorial garden in their memory. You don’t have to do a massive overhaul of your landscaping, though. Just planting a single plant is also a lovely tribute to a pet who passed away.
Here are some outdoor plants that make great stand-alone memorials, but can also be used as the beginning of a larger garden project. Be sure to pick plants that will do well in your local climate.
Hydrangea bushes are low-maintenance, can be established very quickly, and are incredibly hardy. This makes them a great option for even a novice gardener looking to put in some memorial plants. When hydrangeas bloom, they’re lush and visually striking, which also makes them a good choice.
There are also different types of hydrangeas, so you can pick a kind that will work well in your climate. Finally, if you’re familiar with the world of flower meanings, you may know that hydrangeas often represent both sadness and deep-felt emotion as well as rebirth. All of these factors come together to make hydrangeas an ideal selection for a memorial plant.
For much of the year lilac bushes look like any other green leafy bush. But for about two to three weeks out of the year, a lilac bush will explode with riotous, fragrant blossoms. This makes them a beautiful memorial plant. They signify a life that bloomed for a short time, but brought a lot of brightness and color while it was here with us.
The most traditional color of lilac is the classic purple shade, which can symbolize spirituality. This can also bring a sense of added gravitas to lilacs when used as memorial plants.
The name alone makes these flowers ideal for an outdoor memorial garden. As you might guess from the name, these flowers often symbolize happy memories.
Forget-me-nots tend to do best in cool weather and flourish in areas where the summers stay relatively mild. If you plant them in organic soil with plenty of water and shade, they will be remarkably self-sustaining. Every time you look at them, they’ll serve as a reminder of your animal companion.
4. Rose topiary trees
Roses are a classic flower that are appropriate for so many occasions. When people send a sympathy bouquet, roses are a very popular choice. So it also makes sense that rose plants make a sweet start or addition to a memorial garden.
Rose topiary bushes can also have a charming rustic quality to them that make them look right at home in a backyard garden. Yellow roses symbolize friendship, which make them a great tribute to a dog or other loyal family pet.
5. Elder tree
Many people turn to colorful flowers when putting in a memorial plant. But a tall, sturdy tree can also make a beautiful tribute to a pet who has passed away.
The tree will continue to grow year by year, marking the time after the death of a pet. Elder trees are a wonderful choice for a memorial tree for a pet because they symbolize concepts like transition and evolution.
6. Fruit trees
A memorial plant doesn’t have to be purely ornamental, as it can also be practical. Planting a fruit tree in honor of a pet can even help you feel more connected to them. Whenever you eat a piece of fruit from that tree, it’s almost like receiving nourishment from your late pet.
Apple trees grow largely in temperate climates, and these hardy trees can really persevere. Apple trees can also symbolize future happiness which makes them a sweet memorial plant.
Plant Ideas for a Pet’s Indoor Memorial
When setting up an indoor memorial for your pet, you should be sure to keep any other pets in mind. Some plants, like lilies, are toxic to certain household pets including cats. An indoor memorial should honor a pet that passed away, but still be safe for any other animals living in the home. Here are some ideas:
Orchids are a popular sympathy gift because of their delicate and striking beauty. They also make a lovely indoor memorial plant.
While they are safe for pets, some orchids can be dangerous for young children so you should keep that in mind. Stargazer lilies in particular symbolize sympathy, while Oriental lilies can represent eternal life. This makes both of those types of lily an excellent choice for an indoor memorial plant.
8. Gardenia topiary
Gardenia plants can be grown both indoors and outdoors. They grow best in warm, humid weather. If you live in a less-than-ideal climate for an outdoor plant, an indoor gardenia topiary isn’t difficult to keep up with.
Gardenias have a very intense aroma, which makes them a perfect choice for a memorial plant. Even if you aren't looking at the tree, you certainly will be able to smell it. That can serve as a steady reminder of your late pet. Gardenias also symbolize both purity and joy. This makes them an ideal symbol for pets, who innocently bring us so much happiness.
9. Potted ferns
Not all plants do well indoors. But ferns are one of those plants that can flourish indoors as well as outdoors. Their roots don’t need deep soil for growing, so you generally won’t need to worry about repotting them. An indoor memorial fern would be just as at home in a hanging pot as it would be sitting on a table.
They’ll do best in cool temperatures, and they require plenty of moisture. If you live in a drier climate, make sure the soil stays damp and consider keeping a humidifier in the room to help your fern thrive. Ferns symbolize both sincerity and sorrow, making them a lovely choice for a memorial plant.
10. Potted violets
A potted violet is typically quite small and innocuous. But its vivid blossoms also make it quite the focal point. Violets can symbolize many things, including remembrance as well as everlasting love. This makes them a perfect memorial plant.
However, they can be a bit fussy to care for. The soil needs to be slightly moist, but the leaves can rot if they’re too wet. But if you’re willing to put in a little work, violets are a stunning memorial plant.
11. Dwarf Meyer lemon tree
Believe it or not, you can actually grow fruit inside your house. A dwarf Meyer lemon tree can be cultivated indoors in a pot, and it will flower and bear fruit when properly cared for. Lemons have been said to signify both love and fidelity.
They can also represent both longevity and friendship. This is the perfect portable memorial plant to commemorate a faithful friend.
12. Rosemary plant
Like apple trees, this is another example of a memorial plant that can be practical as well as emotional. It’s fairly simple to cultivate herbs indoors, and you can utilize them in your cooking.
For centuries, rosemary has symbolized remembrance. To this day, some people will still wear a sprig of rosemary to a funeral. It can also represent love and loyalty. This fragrant herb is the perfect choice for a plant to help you remember your pet.
Honor a Deceased Pet with Indoor and Outdoor Plants
There’s a longstanding tradition of sending flowers to people after they’ve had a death in the family. But not everyone finds pet loss flowers to be a comforting gesture. A bouquet of flowers can wither and die in a matter of days. A living plant though can serve as a lasting tribute.
Taking the time to tend to indoor or outdoor memorial plants can also help with the grieving process. These indoor and outdoor plants all make for lovely pet memorials for a beloved companion.
If you're looking for more ways to remember your pet, read our guides on what to do with pet ashes and how to turn pet ashes into diamond.