Funeral Flowers Guide

Losing a loved one is one of life's most difficult experiences. As a friend or family member of someone who is grieving, you want to do your part in helping express your condolences and making them feel loved at such a sad time. Sending flowers has long been an expression of sympathy. A floral arrangement or plant has the ability to speak what the heart is feeling when words fail or do not seem adequate. Many times, however, some people have questions about funeral flowers. What types of flower arrangements should I send? Are there certain religions where sending flowers is inappropriate? Where do I send them - funeral home, graveside ceremony or to someone's home?

Similarly, if you are a family member who is making the funeral arrangements (especially if you have never done so before) you may have questions as well. Our funeral flowers guide helps to answer some of these questions and to provide you with the guidance you need to honor the beautiful life of someone who has passed with respect and dignity.

After reading our guide, you will learn that some of the most popular types of funeral flowers are lilies, chrysanthemums, orchids and carnations and that funeral arrangements come in the form of wreaths, standing sprays, casket sprays, baskets and more. When arranging a funeral for a beloved family member, you will know the meaning of different flowers so you can express your exact sentiments through your arrangement. When sending your condolences to a friend or co-worker, the last thing you want to do is send something inappropriate. Funeral flower etiquette can vary from different cultures and religions. When attending a Buddhist funeral, for example, sending white flowers is a suitable gesture, while red is to be avoided. After reading our guide, you will respectfully be able to send your deepest sympathy.

Shop for Sympathy Flowers

Types of Flower Arrangements

Sending flowers as a way to express one's sympathy is a long-standing tradition - dating back to 60,000 BC! During sad times, flowers bring the message of hope and signify compassion, love and warmth. Flowers serve a dual purpose in modern times, namely honoring the life of the one who has passed away, and bringing comfort to the grieving family. You have several choices when it comes to selecting the type of funeral arrangement that expresses your true sentiments.

Floral Baskets

Funeral baskets make a lovely presentation and come in several sizes. They can be delivered to a funeral home for a wake viewing, to a church for a religious service or to the family's home.

Standing Sprays

Standing sprays are displayed on an easel and are typically displayed near the casket. They allow viewing from one side only. Funeral sprays are characteristically sent to a funeral home, but can also be delivered to a church for a service or to a graveside burial ceremony.

Wreaths, Crosses and Hearts

These larger, prominent floral arrangements are displayed near the casket on an easel and are appropriate for family and close friends. The circular shape of a funeral wreath is a poignant way to represent eternal life, while funeral crosses represent faith and the heart stands for love. They are often delivered to a funeral home and may be taken to a gravesite.

Dish Gardens or Plants

Dish gardens are comprised of an assortment of lush green plants and/or flowering colorful plants and are typically arranged in a basket or decorative container. Both dish gardens and plants are suitable to be sent directly to a wake or to the family's home.

When Sending Flowers Isn't Appropriate

While expressing your sorrow and extending your respects through flowers is widely accepted, there are some instances when sending flowers is not appropriate. Some cultures and religions such as Jewish and Islamic faiths do not traditionally receive flowers. When attending a Buddhist ceremony, it is important to know that white flowers are a traditional color choice that represents mourning, while red is considered poor funeral etiquette. For Hindu funerals, flowers are not a traditional part of the religion, as mourners are expected to arrive empty-handed, without flowers or gifts. If you have any questions or concerns about the appropriateness of sending flowers, you might want to contact the funeral home or a family friend or relative who can give you the right guidance.

Planning the Funeral with Flowers

There are many steps to planning a funeral for a loved one, and one of the most poignant ways to add a personalized touch to a service or memorial is with flowers. In addition to their beauty, many flowers carry with them their own unique meaning or emotion. This is especially important when deciding which flowers will play a role in bidding farewell to someone you held dear. Below are some of the most requested funeral flowers and the special message they convey.


As one of the most popular floral choices for funerals, lilies represent the restored innocence of the soul of the departed.


In many European cultures, chrysanthemums are only used as funeral flowers as they are symbolic of death. In the US, chrysanthemums represent truth and are typically regarded as a cheerful way to honor someone who lived a full life.


Pink and white are traditional orchid colors used to express one's sympathy and typically represent eternal love. Phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids are generally the most appropriate types of orchids used as sympathy flowers.


Tall and majestic, gladioli convey strength of character, moral integrity and sincerity.


White carnations convey pure love and innocence; red carnations represent admiration; and pink carnations stand for remembrance.


This highly popular flower carries different meanings depending on the color; White roses express reverence, innocence and youthfulness; Red roses convey respect, love and courage; Pink roses signify love, grace and gentility; Crimson roses denote grief and sorrow; and yellow represents friendship.


Now that you know the meaning of some of the most popular funeral flowers, you can incorporate them in your arrangements. The tradition of adorning the casket with fresh flowers (called a casket spray) is typically selected by the closest family members - spouse, children, siblings, parents, etc. They are beautiful displays of one or several types of flowers and greens that sit on top of the casket. Full casket sprays are suitable for closed caskets, while half casket sprays are used for open casket services. Casket inserts and garlands are other types of floral designs that are selected by the immediate family.

Showing Support for the Grieving

More than any other time, showing your support for someone who has suffered a loss means the most. But many wonder how to be a good friend or family member at such a difficult time. What do you say? What do you do? In this Funeral Flowers Guide, we share some impactful ways on how to show your support.

Be Present

Showing your support does not have to involve some huge gesture. Just being there for someone who is grieving - listening to them, holding their hand and letting them cry or laugh as they reminisce - is all they may need to help them go through the grieving process.

What to Say

If you live nearby, you will likely be attending the wake service, funeral or both. It is at these moments, when many are left wondering what to say to those who are grieving? You do not have to be a poet, just speak from the heart. Still looking for suggestions? Try the following:

  • I am truly sorry for your loss
  • I am not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care
  • You and your loved one will be in my prayers
  • Tell me what I can do for you

What Not to Say

Try as we may, sometimes we say the wrong thing or stick our proverbial foot in our mouth. Here are some things to avoid saying:

  • At least he lived a long life, many people die young
  • Cheer up, he wouldn't want you to be sad
  • He's in a better place
  • There's a reason for everything
  • I know how you feel
  • Be strong

Convey a Message with Flowers

In addition to your presence and kind words, flowers are a wonderful way to express what is in your heart. Send an arrangement to the wake, graveside ceremony or church. Also consider sending flowers to the home of those grieving days or a couple of weeks after all the services have ended to let them know you are still thinking of them.