Flowers are a traditional way to express your condolences to someone experiencing a loss. You can send a bouquet to a funeral, and you can even attach a heartfelt sympathy flower note. But do you know what kind of flowers or floral arrangement is the best choice for a funeral?
Note: Choosing the right flowers may be just one task you're undertaking for the first time after the death of a loved one. If you need helping sorting it all out, check out our post-loss checklist.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Color Flowers Should You Send for a Funeral?
- Types of Flowers for Funerals
- Types of Floral Arrangements for Funerals
You have many different options when it comes to funeral flowers, and you might not know which one best fits your situation.
Below, we’ll go over the different types of funeral flowers, including flower types, colors, and arrangements. We’ll help you decide what kind of flowers and arrangements you should choose.
What Color Flowers Should You Send for a Funeral?
One of the factors you have to consider in choosing a flower arrangement is the color. Whether you’re ordering flowers to decorate the casket at a funeral or you’re sending a sympathy bouquet, the color you choose can make a big difference. Here are some options to consider:
- White - White is the traditional color of funeral flowers, as well as sympathy flowers. The color white evokes feelings of peace, innocence, and honor. White flowers are suitable for any funeral occasion.
- Red - Red flowers indicate beauty, as well as strength. Red funeral flowers can add a touch of vibrancy to a funeral or visitation.
- Pink - Pink flowers represent softness and sympathy. Pink is a respectful color option for sympathy flowers, as well as funeral flower arrangements in many cases.
- Yellow - Vibrant yellow and orange flowers make people think of happy memories. They can be appropriate for a funeral if you want to make the occasion more of a celebration of life than a time of sadness.
- Purple - Purple signifies respect and dignity, making it a perfect accent color for funeral flowers. You can pair it with white for a peaceful, soothing arrangement, or with pink for one that’s comforting and colorful.
- Blue - Blue funeral flowers express deep condolences and mourning. At the same time, blue can symbolize your hopes for the future and well wishes for the family.
Individual colors may have meanings all on their own. But often, floral arrangements achieve greater meaning in how they use different colors together. For example, a floral bouquet that includes vibrant orange, purple, and yellow is perfect for a celebration of life.
A bouquet that features white lilies offset by deep green foliage reflects a sense of peace and serenity. The combination of red and white flowers is extremely popular for funerals, as it represents strength and peace at the same time.
Types of Flowers for Funerals
In addition to color, the type of flowers you choose for a funeral is important. You might choose just one type of flower to feature at your loved one’s funeral (for example, if they had a favorite flower).
But more commonly, funeral flower arrangements include several types of popular flowers and vibrant greenery. Here are some of the most popular funeral flowers and their meanings.
White lilies are the most popular type of funeral flowers, representing peace, grace, and dignity. White lilies are an elegant choice for any type of funeral flower arrangement.
Daisies, either white or more colorful, are a popular choice for bulking up funeral arrangements featuring other flowers. Arrangements that include primarily daisies have also been traditionally used for children and infants.
Roses have a nearly universal meaning of love and respect. And that makes roses perfect as part of a funeral flower arrangement. Roses come in many different colors, including all of those listed above.
Yellow roses are perfect for celebrating the life of a close friend, while pink roses show grace and commemoration. Classic red roses are a sign of deep and lasting love, even after someone passes away. If you want to create a colorful funeral floral bouquet, consider adding roses to the mix.
Carnations are often used in funeral flower arrangements because they grow in many different colors, and they help support larger flowers like roses and lilies.
Carnations can also be the star of a floral arrangement, and they’re considered a more economical option than roses or lilies.
The gladiolus is a type of flower in the iris family, and it’s sometimes known as the “sword lily.”
Because they grow in bunches along tall stems, gladioli represent strength and integrity. They also come in a variety of colors, which makes them a perfect addition to funeral floral arrangements.
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Sometimes known as “mums,” chrysanthemums grow in various shapes. They can look daisy-like, or they can look more like colorful pom-poms. You can even find bonsai chrysanthemums. In addition to a wide range of colors, its variety of shapes and forms makes the chrysanthemum perfect for funeral arrangements.
In some European cultures, chrysanthemums even represent death. Mums can make up an entire bouquet, basket, or spray on their own or support heavier flowers like lilies.
If you want to choose a unique funeral flower, consider orchids. You can use orchids in a funeral flower arrangement as cut flowers or as live plants. In modern funeral culture, live flowering plants like orchids are becoming more and more popular. Pink and white orchids are some of the most commonly chosen when it comes to funerals.
Hydrangeas are shaped like large pom-poms made up of smaller blossoms, making them perfect for floral arrangements. Their bulky shape makes them ideal for creating stand-up floral sprays, as well as wreaths and garlands.
Hydrangeas also come in many different colors, which means you can create a full hydrangea arrangement in whichever color or range of colors you choose.
Types of Floral Arrangements for Funerals
Funeral flowers come in a variety of arrangements, and each one has a different use and purpose. The family members who plan and set up the funeral order some of these arrangements themselves. Funeral attendees should stick to other kinds of floral bouquets and baskets.
9. Standing sprays
A standing spray is a floral arrangement that stands upright, usually on a tripod. Standing sprays are reserved for the family or funeral home to order and set up themselves.
They can be in the shape of a wreath, a more simple bouquet, or a symbol, like a cross. A funeral might feature standing sprays around the casket or at the entrance of the venue.
10. Casket spray
A casket spray is similar to a standing spray, but it lies on top of the casket, rather than standing up. The casket spray is also ordered by the family or the funeral home to choose the color, style, and variety.
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11. Floor bouquet
A floor bouquet is a floral arrangement that a funeral guest can send to the family to display at the funeral.
It’s usually a combination of flowers and greenery, and it sits on the floor (as the name suggests) amongst other floral gifts around the casket.
12. Funeral basket
A funeral basket is similar to a floor basket, but it’s often smaller and includes simple cut flowers. If you want to send a simple floral gift to a funeral, consider a funeral basket (also called a floral basket).
13. Live plants
Cut flowers aren’t the only option when it comes to funeral flowers anymore. While standing sprays, cut bouquets, and floral wreath arrangements were once the only options, many people now opt for living plants.
14. Wreaths and garlands
Flowers can be arranged into a circle to form a wreath, which the family might hang up at the funeral. Wreaths are often part of a standing spray. Garlands are similar to wreaths, but instead of wrapping around in a circle, a garland is a long, rope-like arrangement.
A garland might hang above the casket or even wrap around the casket. Like standing sprays, wreaths and garlands are reserved for the family to order themselves, and funeral guests shouldn’t send them as gifts.
15. Floral art
Another type of funeral flower arrangement that the family might order is floral art. Funeral flowers can come in the shape of religious iconography like crosses, but they can also be formed into hearts or other shapes.
Funeral flower art might take center stage as a standing spray or casket spray, or it might sit off to the side on a table or display.
Funeral Flowers and Faith
Are funeral flowers appropriate in every situation? Many funerals take place in places of worship or include faith-based services. When this is the case, you might wonder whether it’s appropriate to send flowers.
The good news is, funeral flowers are usually a suitable gift to send the family. However, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Mormon - Funeral flowers are typically appropriate, but you should avoid arrangements in the shape of religious iconography.
- Jewish - Funeral flowers usually aren’t displayed at the funeral itself. However, you may be able to send sympathy flowers to the family, instead.
- Greek Orthodox - Most funeral flowers are accepted, but white flowers are preferred.
- Hindu - Floral arrangements are appropriate, but garlands are the more popular option.
- Muslim - Be sure to ask the family whether flowers are appropriate before you send them. Whether or not they’re acceptable varies in the Islamic religion.
Whenever you’re in doubt about sending funeral flowers, you can always reach out and ask the family whether or not they’d like flowers. And always keep an eye out for “In Lieu of Flowers” notes on the funeral invitation or obituary. It may note what the family wants you to do instead of sending flowers.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the details of the funerals to think about. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. 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.
- Seaton, Beverly. The language of flowers: A history. University of Virginia Press, 2012.