There are many reasons why a plant could make a lovely sympathy gift for a person who has lost a family member, friend, or pet.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Indoor Sympathy Plant Ideas
- Outdoor Sympathy Plant Ideas
- Sympathy Plant Ideas for the Loss of a Parent or Grandparent
- Sympathy Plant Ideas for the Loss of a Pet
- Frequently Asked Questions: Sympathy Plants
First, a plant acts as a living tribute for the person who is passed. Each time the mourner cares for the plant, he or she will receive a gentle reminder of the life that was lost.
Second, plants last much longer than cut flowers. The person in mourning can have an opportunity to enjoy the gift after the initial pangs of loss subside.
Next, a plant is an eco-friendly gift. Specific plants improve the air quality in a home if they are placed every 100 square feet.
Finally, a plant adds beauty to a home. House plants and outdoor plants never go out of style. In fact, most decorators and designers use plants to soften the hard edges of rooms and give interiors a touch of color.
Are you not sure what type of plant to purchase as a sympathy gift? Let us help you with your choice.
Post-planning tip: If you are the one receiving sympathy gifts after the death of a loved one, we know that it's tough to handle everything that must be done. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
Indoor Sympathy Plant Ideas
You can’t go wrong with purchasing an indoor plant as a sympathy gift. You don’t have to worry about whether the rose bush or dwarf weeping redbud tree will fit in with the homeowner’s outdoor landscaping. The person receiving the gift will not have to worry about how to keep the outdoor plant alive while waiting for the appropriate planting conditions.
Here are some ideas for indoor plants that are popular to give to a person who is grieving the loss of a loved one.
1. Peace lily
A peace lily is an excellent choice for a sympathy gift. Not only is it a beautiful plant, but it also has a perfect name for the situation.
Peace lilies have dark green leaves. Periodically, a white or off-white bloom will appear.
Peace lilies generally do well in low or dappled light, so it can be a good plant for most households. Since they are tropical plants, they like moist conditions. They are relatively easy plants to keep alive. Their droopy leaves will remind an inattentive owner when it is time to water.
If you are giving the peace lily to someone with small children or pets, remind the person to exercise caution. The leaves of a peace lily have been known to be poisonous if ingested in large amounts.
We like the Peace Lily Clean Air Plant from Amazon.
Orchids have long been a popular plant to use as a gift. In fact, orchids are appropriate gifts for christenings and births as well as funerals.
Orchids are known for offering lovely blooms that come in a variety of colors. Traditionally, orchids given as sympathy gifts have white blossoms.
Orchids may require more care than a peace lily. They enjoy intense light, but not from a direct source. They also need air movement, either from the breeze of an open window or from a fan. Care should be taken not to over-water the plant. Most websites say that orchids should be watered just as they begin to dry out from the previous watering.
Even though orchids require specific soil and special care, they make beautiful gifts for a more experienced plant owner.
We like the Lemon Pot Mini Orchid Plant from Amazon.
3. Palm plants
There are many different types of “palm” plants, but they all make good sympathy gifts. They represent “protection,” so this may be an appropriate gift for someone who needs a shoulder to cry on for an overwhelming loss.
Be careful when choosing the appropriate palm plant for the situation. Some palm plants can get extremely tall, even when planted indoors. This may not be the best choice for someone with limited space.
In general, palm plants need a lot of light but only a little water. Since there are so many varieties, and their needs vary greatly, make sure there are appropriate care instructions included with the plant.
We like the Costa Farms Majesty Palm Tree from Amazon.
Are you looking for an easy-to-grow houseplant to give as a sympathy gift? Philodendrons are easy, basic houseplants that would be a perfect choice for someone who doesn’t have a green thumb.
Although philodendrons do not flower, they offer shiny, dark green leaves when properly cared for by the owner. Some varieties also vine, and they look particularly attractive on tall structures that allow the leaves to trail down on each side.
Philodendrons like indirect sunlight and a quick feel of the soil will tell the owner if it is time for water.
We like the Philodendron 'Cordatum' - Heartleaf from Amazon.
5. Garden basket
If you aren’t sure about what type of plant to purchase for a person in mourning, consider purchasing a variety planter. These are very popular choices as sympathy gifts because they are often artfully placed together to make a beautiful display.
One benefit of giving a person a variety planter is that they will receive several different varieties of plants that they can re-pot separately to grow. This may also be a great choice to give to a family of mourners who live in separate households, as each family member can remove a small plant to take home.
Outdoor Sympathy Plant Ideas
Don’t feel limited by only purchasing indoor plants for a person who is in mourning. Consider buying outdoor plants, shrubs, or trees as well. Some of the plants we have included on this list thrive indoors as well as outdoors in some regions.
Remember that more care is needed when picking outdoor plants. Not every region has the appropriate climate for every type of plant. Make sure you know the region where the mourner resides as well as their living situation before you commit to purchasing a tree or large bush.
Although you can buy small azaleas to be used as houseplants, you may also think about purchasing larger varieties to be planted in your friend’s garden. Most people like azaleas for their beautiful blooms. They come in a variety of colors. Once the blooming season is over, the plant is covered with small green leaves.
Typically, azaleas like well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Use the appropriate mulch around the roots to help the plant retain moisture. Depending upon the variety, azaleas also like a protected environment. They work well right next to the house, where they can be protected from strong winds.
7. Magnolia tree
You may choose to buy a plant that is well-known in the area that the deceased lived. For example, if the person who died lived in the south, you may purchase a magnolia tree for the survivors.
There are over 100 different varieties of magnolias, so you may have to do some research before purchasing a tree perfect for the situation. Even though they are undoubtedly popular in the south, you may be able to find a variety of magnolia that grows in other areas of the country as well.
Magnolia trees can grow at least 20 feet tall, and their blooms vary in shape and color.
8. Oak trees
Your friend may love to plant an oak tree in memory of his loved one. Since some varieties of oaks may last 150 years, it is satisfying knowing that the tree will be around long after we are gone.
There are many different varieties of oak trees, so care should be taken when picking out the specific tree. You may also consider purchasing a permanent sign that can be placed at the base of the sapling that decrees that the tree is in memory of a specific person.
9. Rose bush
Consider purchasing a rose bush as a sympathy gift. They come in many different colors and varieties and continue to be a very popular bush for outdoor landscaping.
Generally, roses need direct sun to bloom. They also may require some regular maintenance at the beginning of spring and the end of summer.
We like the At Last Rose (Rosa) Live Shrub from Amazon.
10. Lilac bush
Lilac bushes make lovely gifts. All adore their sweet-smelling blooms, and their scent may bring back pleasant memories for the owner of the plant each spring.
Lilac bushes need a lot of sunlight as well as fertile, well-drained soil.
We like the Texas Lilac Vitex Trees from Amazon.
Sympathy Plant Ideas for the Loss of a Parent or Grandparent
The best sympathy gift is reminiscent of the person who died. So, if you are buying a sympathy plant for a friend who lost their parents or grandparents, think about what you may know about the family’s plant preference.
Did your friend ever share stories of playing under a willow tree in grandma’s yard? Maybe purchase a willow tree to give to your friend or donate to a nearby park. Are there photos on your friend’s social media page that show Grandpa standing in front of his prize-winning irises? Then, perhaps iris bulbs would be a good sympathy gift.
Also, consider the names of the deceased. If they had a botanical name, use that as inspiration for the gift. Names such as Rose, Lilly, Willow, Daisy, Camilla, Violet, Fern, or Holly come to mind.
Here are some other plant ideas for the loss of a parent or grandparent.
11. Prayer plant
There are many varieties of prayer plants. They are usually labeled as such to describe how the leaves open and close each day, much like praying hands.
Prayer plants would make a good gift for a family full of prayer warriors or those who take their faith seriously. Plus, they are beautiful plants that have intricately patterned leaves with dark purple veins.
Like many plants, the monstera may be referred to by several different names. Whether you refer to it as a split-leaf philodendron or a swiss cheese plant, these plants are trendy at the moment. This would be a good choice for a person who decorates their home in the style of mid-century modern.
Another benefit of purchasing a monstera as a sympathy gift is that they may be nostalgic plants for some. They were also popular in the 1950s, so your friend’s parent or grandparent might have had one.
13. Bonsai tree
Some people’s living situations make it challenging to keep houseplants. Consider a bonsai tree as a sympathy gift if your friend has limited space.
Bonsai trees symbolize harmony, peace, and balance. While they are perfect for tight-knit quarters, they also need a lot of direct sunlight. Make sure the recipient has access to a south-facing window.
Plants that could be classified as “succulents” also seem to be extremely popular now. There are many different types of succulents, but they are often sold in a grouping with several different varieties.
One reason that succulents are popular right now is that they are relatively easy to keep alive. As a result, they are an excellent gift for a new plant parent.
Sympathy Plant Ideas for the Loss of a Pet
A plant may make a good gift for someone who recently lost a pet. However, please be mindful of the family’s surviving animals. Some plants are hazardous to pets and children. Be vigilant in your research. While most of the varieties of the following plants are considered non-toxic, there may be other lesser-known ferns, for example, that are harmful to dogs.
Here are some plant ideas for someone mourning the loss of a pet.
Ferns are typically non-toxic. They are classic plants that look beautiful on top of bookshelves or hanging off a hook outside. However, they sometimes make a mess, so this may not be an excellent choice for someone who is a meticulous housekeeper.
Additionally, literature lovers might appreciate the symbolism of purchasing a fern following a dog’s death. Re-read Where the Red Fern Grows to understand this connection.
16. Ponytail palm
This unique-looking plant is sometimes called an “elephant’s foot” because of its thick stem. This plant isn’t a palm but instead is a part of the agave family. It is considered a dog-safe plant.
African violets are beautiful plants that would make a good sympathy gift. While most varieties are considered non-toxic, this plant is not a good choice for everyone. They require precise care and perfect conditions to bloom, which may frustrate some plant owners. However, the resulting purple or blue blooms are beautiful to behold.
18. Friendship plant
Show a friend that you are there for them following their loss by purchasing a friendship plant. They have beautifully patterned leaves and do well in low light.
19. Spider plant
Spider plants are relatively easy to care for and are considered non-toxic. While they often are not the first choice for “sympathy plants,” they are a good gift to someone newly interested in houseplants.
20. String of turtles
Consider purchasing a houseplant that corresponds with the type of pet your friend recently lost. An example of this would be a string of turtles. A string of turtles plant, also known as peperomia prostrata, is a delicate-looking plant that resembles the shells of miniature turtles strung together. The plant is small, so this would also be a good choice for friends with limited space.
Another similar plant that is considered non-toxic for dogs is baby’s tears. This creeping plant also has tiny green leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions: Sympathy Plants
Buying a plant for a person who recently experienced a traumatic loss may feel unsatisfying. However, a houseplant, like any other sympathy gift, is a token you give to a friend that says, “I’m thinking of you,” “I care for you,” or “I see that you are grieving.”
Do you have other questions about sympathy plants? Here are some common ones on the subject.
Where’s the best place to buy a sympathy plant?
If you live in the same community as your friend, consider going to a local florist to buy a sympathy plant. The employees are plant experts and can help you pick the perfect houseplant for your situation. Another benefit of going to a local florist is that they typically offer delivery. However, you might consider delivering the plant to your friend in person.
You can also purchase a sympathy plant from an online delivery service. Many online memorial sites offer links to floral delivery services working in that area. Using these links may help assure that the delivery will make it to the right funeral home and family.
Of course, you can also purchase a plant from your local nursery and deliver it to your friend.
Do you send a sympathy plant to a funeral or to a loved one’s home?
This depends on the situation.
If your friend has to travel to the funeral, have the houseplant delivered to their home address when you know they will be home.
If you would like to offer sympathy to a family with many different households, send the plant to the funeral home.
If you would like to give the plant to a specific person within a family, you can address it to that person and send it to the funeral home. Or, you can send it directly to their home.
What do the popular sympathy plants symbolize or mean?
A lot has been written about the symbolism of plants. Assigning plants or flowers specific meanings has been done for centuries and was extremely popular during the Victorian era. Do some online research or seek help from a local florist to choose the right plant for your situation.
Showing Sympathy With a Living Plant
We hope we have helped you choose a plant to give as a sympathy gift. If you decide to deliver the plant to the home of the recipient, make sure you include a note with the plant as well as detailed care instructions.
Even though the family may have written “in lieu of flowers, consider donating to a favorite charity,” you may consider still purchasing a plant. Cut flowers do not last long, and most families would prefer a donation instead of a gift that will only last a week. But a healthy plant can last years and can act as a beautiful reminder of the one who is gone.
- “Gardening.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Almanac.com