Choosing flowers for the funeral may not be your first concern when planning a funeral as there are so many other decisions to make. It can feel cathartic, though, to create an arrangement or tribute that really captures the essence of the person, so if he or she had a favourite flower, or if there’s a flower that comes to mind when you think about the person, start from there.

Some people choose to give flowers as a gift, in accordance with traditional funeral etiquette. For extended family and friends, it can be hard to find the right words when someone dies, or to work out the best way to offer your condolences. Flowers are often a fitting tribute to the deceased, and a nice way to honour their memory.

funeral flowers

What kinds of flower arrangements are there?

Floral arrangements come in a number of different styles, including sheaves, sprays and wreaths. People will often pick a couple of bouquets to dress the funeral, as well as a casket spray. This is shaped specifically for the top of the coffin, and is sometimes cross-shaped in religious ceremonies.

The most distinctive funeral flower arrangement is the floral tribute. Tributes are personal to the deceased, sometimes depicting a favourite hobby or vocation, or can also spell out the person’s name. Often these form the centrepiece at the funeral or are displayed prominently in the procession, for example in the window of the hearse.

Alternatively, there’s the funeral wreath. A funeral wreath is a circular arrangement of flowers and leaves that can be given to a grieving family as a gift, or purchased when arranging a funeral. The funeral is displayed prominently at the funeral service, usually on a stand or beside the coffin.

Which flowers are most popular at funerals?

Lilies – Lilies are the quintessential funeral flower, said to represent purity and a restoration of innocence, with the white stargazer the most popular variety. They are also known for their distinct scent, which many associate with the smell of funeral homes. These flowers should be kept out of reach from children and pets.

funeral lillies

Roses – Roses are a very common and appropriate funeral flower. Each colour has a different connotation, with red roses being the classic symbol of love, yellow symbolises the bond of friendship, pink represents appreciation and gratitude and orange denotes passion. Roses work well alongside other flowers as well as leaves, berries and sprigs, in a larger funeral tribute or floral bouquet.

Daisies – Daisies symbolise childhood innocence, in addition to loyalty and love, and is also a flower that evokes death with the common turn of phrase, ‘pushing up daisies’, a perfect tribute for the funeral of someone who never took themselves too seriously. They are popular for woodland burial flower arrangements, such as a daisy spray to sit atop a wicker coffin.

Gladioli – Gladioli stems can reach up to 4 feet tall, making this funeral flower a definite showstopper. The gladiolus is famed to be the flower of gladiators for its sword-like appearance, and embodies sincerity and strength of character. It’s available in a range of colours: pink, white, red, purple, orange, yellow and green.

Chrysanthemums – Chrysanthemums, or ‘mums’ as they are colloquially known, have a strong association with death, particularly in France where this flower is used to celebrate All Souls’ Day, a day for the commemoration of the dead. The most popular colour variations are red, pink and gold. In fact, chrysanthemum means ‘gold blossom’ in Greek, and this flower symbolises optimism and joy.

funeral crysanthemums

Where should the flowers be delivered?

  • Funeral director. During office hours there will always be someone to receive the delivery. Delivering to the funeral director keeps the coffin together with the flowers, so they arrive at the service simultaneously. The funeral director can then take charge of setting up for the funeral.
  • Residential address. Remember to check there is someone home to receive the flowers.

It is advised to not send flowers to a church, crematorium or place of worship, as there may not be anyone to receive them and there can be confusion over where the flowers should be left. The flowers may also be left outside in adverse weather conditions.

When do I need to order the flowers by?

The general rule is that you should leave at least 48 hours for ordinary bouquets, and a few days for more elaborate designs, but this can vary from florist to florist.

Can the funeral director arrange the flowers for me?

Absolutely – yes. Simply ask them to take care of the floral arrangements and they will take care of it, though this may cost you more than it would if you do this yourself. Find a funeral director today.

What gift can I give at a funeral instead of flowers?

Some people expressly request no flowers to be given as gifts, and will instead ask for a donation to charity. The sentiment is the same – showing love and affection for the deceased, and a donation may even be a better legacy. In this case, ignore general funeral etiquette of sending flowers and use that money to make a donation instead.

If you want to give a floral gift that won’t die as quickly as a regular bouquet, you could give a potted plant, such as a peace lily or an orchid. These flowers will last longer, but the recipient will also be given the responsibility of tending to the plants.

Another way to commemorate the deceased is with Funeralbooker’s online memorial service, where you can share memories of the deceased with friends and family.

If you want to support the bereaved family, you could bring round some groceries, cook the family a meal or give a care package. Sometimes this gift is most meaningful in the weeks and months following the funeral, to let the family know they are still in your thoughts.

Read our guide on what to do with funeral flowers after the funeral.