Our Guide to Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings

Written by Fraser Stewart
Reading time 3 minutes
Our Guide to Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings image

Many of us know that flowers have meanings. We are all aware that red roses mean passion and romance. But for most people, that is where their knowledge of the meanings of flowers end. Choosing funeral flowers can be more involved than simply deciding between white funeral flowers and red funeral flowers. When you are choosing the flowers for a funeral, consider these common funeral flowers and their meanings.

A Note On The Meanings of Common Funeral Flowers

Many cultures apply different symbolism around life and death. If the deceased or their family is from a particular culture, do some research into the traditions of funerals in that culture and flowers and their meanings in that culture. Consider speaking to a family member to identify any cultural faux pas before the funeral. This article does not provide an exhaustive list of all flowers, only the common funeral flowers. We will note any alternating cultural practices we are aware of, but we cannot provide information about every culture.

Common Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings

Here are 6 common funeral flowers that can be used either in funeral arrangements, to place on graves, or sympathy bouquets.


Roses are common in funeral flower arrangements. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are also commonly seen as a symbol of love. The different colours often have different meanings


Lilies are one of the most common funeral flowers, and you will often see them in a funeral home. White lilies are very common, especially for a Christian funeral service, as they signify the purifying of the soul. Remember that lilies are toxic to cats, so they are not appropriate to send to grieving people who own cats.


Carnations feature heavily in both funeral and sympathy arrangements. For Christian funerals, pink carnations may be appropriate as it is believed they come from the Virgin Mary’s tears.


Orchids of any colour mean “I will always love you” and a plant can make a lovely gift for someone grieving. Generally, pink and white funeral flowers express sympathy and an innocent love, but there is no particular meaning for the colour of an orchid.


Chrysanthemums have a lot of different meanings depending on the culture, so tread carefully if you are sending these as sympathy flowers. In many Asian cultures (but not all), chrysanthemums symbolise rebirth and are more appropriate at a birth or baby shower. In many European countries, chrysanthemums are only used for placing on graves.


A gladioli symbolises strength, integrity, and sincerity. It is commonly used in funeral and sympathy arrangements for someone who was well-respected in their community. The flower does not have different meanings dependent on its colour.

Do I Make a Funeral Arrangement or Stick to One Flower?

The choice is completely up to you. Some flowers will be more expensive than others, so a single type of flower may be more expensive or less expensive than an arrangement. Florists can make beautiful arrangements that incorporate a few different types of flowers and set a mood for the service. If you are nervous about using a non-traditional flower or worried about the flowers and their meanings, asking a florist to make an arrangement can take the pressure off.

Do I Need to Choose Funeral Flowers Based on Their Meanings?

No. While in the past, the symbolism of flowers was common knowledge, flowers and their meanings are not a part of most people’s decision making. You can choose funeral flowers based on the deceased’s favourite flowers or based on the types of flowers that remind you of them. You may even choose types of flowers to suit the mood that the deceased wanted at their funeral. Ultimately, the choice is yours, or the deceased if they left instructions. Be aware of the meanings of common funeral flowers, but it does not have to be the only factor in your decision.

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