We all do it — we hear someone has passed and we pick up the phone to order flowers. But what type of flowers are appropriate for a funeral? Are there even “funeral flowers” that we should be ordering? Here are some common flowers that are perfect for expressing love and sympathy at the loss of a friend or family member.
When people think of flowers for a funeral, the first flower that likely comes to mind is the lily. Some people believe lilies signify that the spirit of the departed person has returned to a state of innocence. Others believe lilies symbolize virginity, purity and the soul’s radiance. In particular, white stargazer lilies are often chosen as representations of sympathy.
As opposed to the flower, some people like to offer a whole peace lily plant as a statement that the soul of the deceased has been reborn. Plants certainly last far longer than flowers alone and, with luck, will continue to grow for many years.
Roses of different colors are also common for funerals. Like lilies, white roses symbolize purity, innocence and spirituality. They can also represent humility, reverence and youthfulness. Red roses can show grief, respect and love. Friends sometimes give yellow roses to mark close friendship. Light pink roses can show gentility and grace, while dark pink roses demonstrate thankfulness to the departed person. Roses are often mixed with other flowers or used in a standing spray, casket spray or in wreaths. Sometimes people include just one rose in a bouquet to show their enduring love.
Orchids are symbolic of love bonds and say “I will always love you.” When choosing an orchid for a funeral, make sure you consider its color. Pink and white are traditional colors of sympathy, which makes orchid varieties such as the phalaenopsis orchid and dendrobium a beautiful choice for a funeral. Also consider sending a full plant, rather than an arrangement; it will last longer and can be kept as a special reminder of the person who was lost.
Chrysanthemums, or “mums,” can signify honor or sympathy in the Western hemisphere. In some parts of Europe, there’s a sadness related to these flowers, whereas in the United States their meaning is generally positive. In addition, red chrysanthemums often symbolize love while white chrysanthemums symbolize innocence.
Carnations are often seen at funerals in wreaths and standing sprays. Red carnations can show affection and admiration while white symbolizes love and innocence. In the Christian and Catholic religions, it’s believed that pink carnations came from the tears of the Virgin Mary. Some people believe pink carnations stand for remembrance. Many florists are talented in creating familiar shapes with carnations such as activity representations, sports logos or other personalized forms.
Gladioli flowers represent sincerity, strength of character and moral integrity. The flowers are often long and tall and can be used in fan sprays at traditional funeral services. Common colors of gladioli include red, orange, yellow, green and purple.
Hyacinths are typically added to other flower arrangements and assortments and can mean anything from deep anguish to “you’re in my prayers.” Some people have different interpretations of hyacinths, however, and believe they signify games, sports and/or rashness; be aware of this dichotomy so as not to offend anyone.
Last but not least, hydrangeas are often used to convey heartfelt emotions. As with lilies and orchids, sending the family a whole plants will give them something that will last a long time and always be a reminder to them of their loved one.