Choosing Funeral Flowers – Different Flowers and Their Meanings
Flowers are a key element of funerals and memorials. They help to remind us of beauty and life on a day when we are surrounded by the sadness of death and overwhelming grief. Funeral flowers can come in the form of wreaths, bouquets, garlands and other floral tributes. They can be personalised with messages or with the name of the remembered person. Flowers can be a beautiful distraction form the pain of the day or a comforting sign to mourners. When planning a funeral service, your funeral director will likely discuss your preferences for floral arrangements with you, so it is important to take the opportunity to think about whether your loved one would have liked flowers and if so what flowers should be included.
When choosing flowers for a funeral, you may have a clear idea of exactly the kinds of flowers your loved one would want, their favourite blooms. However, if you are less sure what flowers would be suitable for their memorial, we have put together a comprehensive list of different flowers and what they mean, helping you choose flowers that reflect the life and personality of the person you are remembering, making it a truly personal send-off.
Additionally, by choosing a flower that particularly represents your loved one, or one that they loved, every time you see that flower in future, you will be reminded of that person and they will continue to live on in fond memory.
Many flowers traditionally symbolise different meanings, feelings and ideas across many different cultures and for several centuries. The Victorians, for example, used ‘floriography’ or ‘the language of flowers’ to communicate unspoken feelings. Flowers also played a large part in Greek and Roman mythology, Elizabethan culture and in folklore, religious traditions and literature, much of which is still recognised today. A red rose, for example, is a universally recognised symbol of love and romance. See our list below to find flowers to communicate your feelings for your loved one, and infuse their memorial with their personality and spirit.
Alstroemeria – Exotic alstroemeria symbolises friendship and devotion. They are also commonly known as the Peruvian lily.
What time of year does alstroemeria bloom?
Alstroemeria bloom from summer until autumn. They are mostly native to the South American Andes and come in roughly 50 different species with colours such as orange, pink, purple, white, salmon, rose, red and yellow.
Amaryllis – According to the Famer’s Almamac, an amaryllis signifies pride. During the Victorian era and amaryllis represented a strong, self-confident and beautiful woman. Amaryllis comes from the Greek ‘amarullis’, meaning splendour or sparkling. Perhaps you are remembering a special woman who embodied these traits.
What time of year does amaryllis bloom?
Tropical amaryllis blooms from winter to spring time. An amaryllis bulb can live up to 75 years. They are part of the same family as lilies. Its most common variation is known as the belladonna lily, native to the Western Cape region of South Africa.
Anemone – Anemones have several different meanings. For Victorians, anemones represented the rather solemn idea of being ‘forsaken’. However, in Greek the word ‘anemos’ means wind. If the person you are remembering was a force of nature, then perhaps anemones are the flower to remember them by.
What time of year do anemones bloom?
Depending on the species, of which there are up to 200, anemones are in bloom anytime between spring and autumn. They are extremely varied and different species can thrive in a variety of settings, which is why they can be found across Europe, North American and Japan. The poppy anemone is the national flower of the nation of Israel.
Aster – The daisy’s sister flower symbolises love, daintiness and patience. Aster comes from the Greek word for star due to its star like flowers. In Roman mythology, god of the sky and thunder, Jupiter decided to flood the earth, destroying warring mankind. Astraea, the goddess of innocence, was so upset by this that she asked to be turned into a star. Her wish was granted, and when the flood waters receded, she wept at all the lives lost. According to the myth, her tears turned to stardust as they fell to earth, where they became asters.
What time of year do asters bloom?
Asters bloom during summer and autumn and are extremely long lasting when cut. There are several colour varieties, including pink, purple, red and white. There are around 180 species. The aster is the flower marking a 20th wedding anniversary and is the birth flower for the month of September.
Bluebells – There are few things lovelier than the sight of a woodland carpeted with bluebells. Bluebells symbolise kindness, a trait that you might wish to remember your loved one for.
What time of year do bluebells bloom?
Bluebells bloom during spring time. Nearly half of the world’s bluebells are found in the UK.
Camellia – According to the Victorian Flower Dictionary, the delicate camellia means ‘my destiny is in your hands’. Camellias come in a variety of shades, including whites, pinks, reds and yellows. Native to East Asia, and known by the Chinese as ‘tea flower’, unsurprisingly as camellia sinensis leaves are used to make tea. Interestingly, white camellias were a symbol of women’s rights in New Zealand, worn during the fight for the right to vote in the late nineteenth century, and can be seen on the NZ ten dollar note.
What time of year do camellias bloom?
Camellias typically bloom between autumn and late spring. There are reported to be somewhere between 100 and 300 recognised species of camellia, with thousands of hybrids. Common types of camellia include the camellia japonica, camellia sasanqua and camellia x williamsii.
Carnation – Carnations, while certainly sweet and beautiful, can sometimes be seen as common due to the fact that they are fairly inexpensive and can be picked up at most supermarkets. However, carnations carry several deep meanings within their colourful blooms that might be appropriate to commemorate a loved one. White carnations mean ‘sweet and lovely’, while pink carnations say, ‘I will never forget you’ and red carnations mean ‘my heart aches for you’. If you do opt for carnations, steer clear of yellow carnations which mean ‘disdain’ or the melancholy two toned carnations – ‘I cannot be with you’.
What time of year do carnations bloom?
Carnations, also known as dianthus, bloom continuously throughout the summer months, usually from June until September. They have been found across Europe, in mountains and fields, in Asia and southern Africa. Carnations are long lasting, even after they have been cut. They are the birth flower for January.
Chamomile – Although we typically associate chamomile with its relaxing properties, during the nineteenth century it was given the meaning ‘energy in adversity’, which might be fitting for a person who, despite failing health or other difficult obstacles, remained strong in spirit to the end.
What time of year does chamomile bloom?
Chamomile flowers bloom in summer, in June and July. Their appearance is similar to daisies or asters and they have a pleasing fragrance. Chamomiles are native to Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia. In addition to its relaxing properties, chamomile is also known to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and disinfectant properties. Chamomile is the national flower of Russia.
Chrysanthemums – Popular chrysanthemums have a variety of meanings. In some countries incurve chrysanthemums, where the petals curve inward, symbolise death. In Australia, white chrysanthemums are worn to honour their mothers. According to The Flower Expert, red chrysanthemums symbolise love and white chrysanthemums signify truth and loyalty.
What time of year do chrysanthemums bloom?
Chrysanthemums bloom from late summer up until early winter, depending on the variety. They are native to Europe and Asia. They held special significance in Japan, where they are known as ‘kikus’ and were featured on the Japanese Imperial Crest. The chrysanthemum is the birth flower for November.
Cyclamen – Cyclamen means good bye, ultimately fitting for a send-off.
What time of year does cyclamen bloom?
Depending on the species, cyclamen can bloom at any time of year. There are 24 species of cyclamen and they originate from the Mediterranean, Iran and Somalia.
Daffodils – Bright, sunny daffodils might not be the first flower you think of when planning a funeral. The fluted yellow flower signifies ‘new beginnings’ which, if your loved one believed in an afterlife or reincarnation, could be a symbol of hope. They are also known to signify friendship. The daffodil is the national flower of Wales.
What time of year do daffodils bloom?
Daffodils bloom in early spring – they are some of the first flowers we see following winter. There are at least 50 species of daffodil. Daffodils were first brought to UK shores during the Roman Empire, the Romans believing their sap had healing powers. The daffodil is the March birth flower.
Daisies – The daisy symbolises innocence and purity. The name daisy comes from the Anglo Saxon ‘daes eag’, meaning ‘day’s eye’, since daisies open as the sun starts to rise at the beginning of the day.
What time of year do daisies bloom?
Daisies start to bloom in spring, lasting until early fall. They are native to Northern and central Europe, but can now be found on every continent except Antarctica. The delicate daisy is the birth flower for the month of April.
Forget-me-nots – Made clear by their name, these lovely blooms are symbols of remembrance. During the medieval era, they were often worn by women to signify faithfulness and enduring love. The Alzheimer’s Society has adopted the forget-me-not as its logo, along with the strapline ‘United Against Dementia’.
What time of year do forget-me-nots bloom?
Forget-me-nots bloom in spring. There are over 500 recorded species, but only 74 have been formally accepted. They are mostly native to western Eurasia and New Zealand. The true name for forget-me-nots is the Greek word ‘myosotis’, meaning ‘mouse’s ear’ due to the shape of the petals.
Geranium – Oak leaf geraniums mean true friendship.
What time of year do geraniums bloom?
Oak leaf geraniums bloom from spring to summer. They are native to South Africa. There are around 422 different species of geranium.
Gladiolus – Another symbol of remembrance, the gladiolus has also been known to signify strength of character, faithfulness and honour.
What time of year does gladiolus bloom?
Gladiolus blooms in summer. There are around 260 different species, 250 of which are native to sub-Saharan Africa. Gladiolus comes in a range of bright and beautiful colours. It is the birth flower for the month of August.
Goldenrod – Goldenrod or ‘solidago’ as it is also known means ‘encouragement’ according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The bright flower certainly suggests encouragement with its warming yellow tones. Perfect for someone who embodied encouragement in life and for those needing encouragement through such a difficult time.
What time of year does goldenrod bloom?
Goldenrod flowers between summer and early autumn. The plant, of which there are between 100 and 120 different species, is native to North America, South America and Eurasia. It is the state flower of three US states: Kentucky, Nebraska and South Carolina.
Heliotrope – Visually stunning and beautifully fragrant, heliotropes symbolise ‘eternal love’. Due to their pleasant scent, heliotropes are often used as an ingredient for perfume. The name heliotrope is a combination of two Greek words ‘helios’, which means ‘sun’ and ‘tropos’, which means ‘turn’, because the plant turns in the direction of the sun.
What time of year does heliotrope bloom?
Heliotrope blooms in summer and autumn. There are somewhere between 250 and 300 species of heliotrope. The heliotrope is a tropical flower, first brought to Europe in the eighteenth century. It is native to North and South America and the Caribbean.
Honeysuckle – The sweet-scented, trumpet shaped blooms symbolise bonds of love. Honeysuckle is the June birth flower. They also produce red berries alongside their flowers. Honeysuckle looks beautiful alongside larger blooms such as roses, hydrangea or peonies.
What time of year does honeysuckle bloom?
Honeysuckle flowers appear between June and September. There are approximately 180 species of honeysuckle. They are native to Asia, Europe and North America. Honeysuckle plants attract a myriad of wildlife including various bird and insect species.
Hyacinth – The name hyacinth comes from Greek mythology. According to the myth, the sun god Apollo accidentally killed his lover Hyacinthus and, instead of allowing Hades the god of death to claim him, Apollo created a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood, thus giving the flower its meaning of regret and the words ‘please forgive me’ associated with them, although this is attributed mainly to the purple variety of the plant. The blue hyacinth signifies the constancy of love, while the white hyacinth is a symbol of loveliness or prayers for someone.
What time of year do hyacinths bloom?
Hyacinths flower in spring, during March and April, if planted in early autumn. They come in shades of blue, purple, red, yellow, peach, salmon, orange, pink, white and lavender. Their unique fragrances are frequently used in perfume making. Hyacinths originally were found around the Mediterranean region, Iran and Turkmenistan.
Iris – In Greek mythology, the goddess Iris is the messenger of love, thought to carry messages between heaven and earth using a rainbow as a bridge (Iris means rainbow). The ancient Greeks would plant purple irises on the graves of women, believing the goddess would lead them to heaven. Irises were also recurrent in ancient Egyptian culture. The purple iris symbolises royalty, wisdom and respect; yellow signifies passion; and blue represents faith and hope.
What time of year do irises bloom?
Irises bloom from late spring to early summer. There are around 200 known species, all of which are native to the northern temperate regions. Irises come in a range of colours including white, yellow, brown, pink, red, blue, purple and black.
Ivy – While not a flower, Ivy can look just as beautiful as part of a floral arrangement. The winding vines and broad glossy leaves represent friendship and continuity. In traditional folklore, ivy was used to keep evil spirits at bay.
What time of year does ivy grow?
Ivy is an evergreen plant so can be seen throughout the year. Mature ivy plants can produce small clusters of flowers which bloom between September and November, and fruit which ripen from November to January.
Lavender – Aromatic lavender signifies ‘devotion’. Consider incorporating lavender into a funeral spray to represent your devotion to your loved one.
What time of year does lavender bloom?
Lavender flowers in summer. They originate from warm climates including the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, northeastern Africa and southern Asia. It is frequently used in aromatherapy due to its supposed tension relieving properties. There are 47 known species of lavender.
Lotus – A familiar symbol across different cultures, the lotus is a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth. Native to Asia, the lotus frequently appears in both Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. According to Buddhist legend, Gautama Buddha left lotus flowers blooming from his footsteps. In Hindu culture, examples of the presence of the lotus includes the god Vishnu and goddess Lakshmi, who are often depicted sitting on a lotus flower.
What time of year do lotuses flower?
Lotuses bloom during the summer months. It is difficult to get lotus flowers in the UK, however there are many beautiful silk varieties that look just as stunning and can also serve as a lasting reminder of your loved one.
Nasturtiums – Patriotism is the meaning given to bright nasturtiums. When we think of patriotism, often one of the first thoughts that come to mind is our armed forces. Perhaps your loved one served their country in some way or they were just fiercely patriotic; nasturtiums might be a nice way to acknowledge this.
What time of year do nasturtiums bloom?
Nasturtiums bloom in summer and autumn. The flowers come in varied shades including red, orange, yellow and blue. They are native to South and Central America, with around 80 different species.
Pansies – Pansies symbolise thoughtfulness and remembrance. The name pansy comes from the French word ‘penser’, the feminine of which is ‘pensee’, meaning to think or ponder something. These flowers, while appearing very delicate are in fact very hardy, able to withstand harsh winters unlike most other flowers.
What time of year do pansies bloom?
Pansies bloom all year round. The versatile flowers come in a variety of shades, usually with a bright yellow centre. Derived from violas, they are one of the few flowers that are edible. Shakespeare mentioned pansies in his comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, by their nickname ‘heartsease’.
Poppies – In Flanders Fields the poppies blow… Poppies, particularly the red variety, are worn by many across the UK each November as a sign of remembrance. They also symbolise sleep, peace and death. Poppies are a source of opium, which induces sleep and acts as a pain reliever. They are featured on the coat of arms of the Royal College of Anaesthetists.
What time of year do poppies bloom?
Poppies bloom from mid-June to October. The poppy is the birth flower for the month of August. They are native to many different parts of the world, including Europe and Asia.
Roses – The rose is possibly the most well-known and thought of flower when it comes to any occasion, at least across the western world. In popular culture, roses are symbols of love and beauty, but can also embody much more than that. Many countries claim the rose as their national flower, including England, the Maldives, Bulgaria and the United States and they are one of the birth flowers for June. Different coloured roses offer different meanings.
Red – Red roses symbolise love and desire. Not to be consigned solely to Valentine’s Day, surely love and desire is something we would want to communicate all year round, especially when it comes to remembering someone we loved deeply.
White – The unblemished beauty of a white rose can be attributed to its meanings of purity, innocence, reverence and silence. White flowers can also demonstrate sympathy.
Pink – Grace, happiness and gentleness are all traits personified by the pink rose. There are a variety of shades available, from the lightest pink to a deep blush.
Yellow – Yellow roses signify joy and friendship, conjuring feelings of warmth and welcome.
Coral – Coral roses are for friendship, modesty and sympathy.
What time of year do roses bloom?
Roses bloom throughout spring, summer and autumn. There are over a hundred different species. They are thought to largely originate from Asia, particularly the Middle East. Many ancient cultures considered roses to be sacred, including the Egyptians and Mesopotamians. In England’s Wars of the Roses during the fifteenth century, they were used to symbolise the two warring houses of York and Lancaster with a white and red rose respectively. Following the victory of Henry Tudor, the two rose symbols were combined to form the Tudor rose, symbolising the union of York and Lancaster.
Sunflower – Sunflowers, also known as helianthus may seem like an unusual choice for such a sad and sombre occasion as a funeral, but the large, sunny flowers signify the meaning of adoration, which is surely something to be said of a loved one.
What time of year do sunflowers bloom?
Sunflowers bloom in summer, when the sunshine is at its warmest. Mostly native to North America, sunflowers comprise around 70 different species.
Sweet peas – According to The Flower Expert, fragrant sweet peas are symbolic of departure after having a good time.
What time of year do sweet peas bloom?
Sweet peas bloom typically during summer and autumn. Sweet peas are one of the flowers representing the month of April. The flowers come in a variety of shades including blue, pink, purple, white, red and yellow.
Tulips – Tulips represent passion, imagination and dreaminess. Tulips are the unofficial national flower for both Hungary and The Netherlands. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the red tulip signifies a declaration of love, whilst the yellow tulip means ‘sunshine in your smile’.
What time of year do tulips bloom?
Tulips bloom in spring. In the UK, they are some of the first flowers we see following winter, alongside snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells. They originate from Central Asia. Tulips come in a wide variety of colours. There are roughly 100 species of tulip. Interestingly, tulip bulbs can be used in cooking instead of onions.
Verbena – Bright and beautiful purple verbenas are a beautiful addition to a floral arrangement. The small delicate flowers mean ‘pray for me’, which is appropriate given their frequent appearance in religious symbolism, from the ancient Egyptian gods to early Christian legends.
What time of year does verbena bloom?
Verbenas begin to bloom in summer, continuing well into autumn. They are often nicknamed ‘lollipops’ because of their thin stems and rounded heads. Verbena originate from the milder, temperate regions of southern Europe and North and South America. There are approximately 250 species.
Violets – Deeply beautiful violets symbolise loyalty, devotion and faithfulness. Violets are some of the first plants of the year to bloom, demonstrating their strength and resilience against the cold weather. Both Greeks and Romans were known to use violets in medicine, food and festivals.
What time of year do violets bloom?
Violets are early bloomers, and will usually first appear in late winter until May. There are thought to be as many as 600 different species of violet. Violets are the birth flower for the month of February. They are mostly native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, but some can be found in Hawaii, Australasia and the Andes.
White jasmine – Sweet smelling jasmine, or jessamine as it is also known is characterised by its fragrance and its star shaped flowers. Fittingly, it means ‘sweet love’ and is often worn by brides and grooms in wedding ceremonies across different cultures. If you are remembering a spouse or partner, fragrant jasmine would make a lovely addition to a floral arrangement.
What time of year does jasmine bloom?
Jasmine blooms from spring until autumn. There are over 200 species of jasmine. Jasmine comes from the Persian word ‘yasmin’, which translates as ‘gift from God’. It is the national flower of Pakistan, the Philippines and Indonesia and originates from across Eurasia, Australasia and Oceania.
Zinnias – Particularly appropriate for a memorial service, colourful zinnias remind us to never forget absent friends.
What time of year do zinnias bloom?
Zinnias flower from early summer until late autumn. The sun loving blooms originate from the southern United States, Mexico and Central America and come in a range of bright colours including red, orange and pink. Zinnias were first discovered by German botanist Dr Johann Zinn, hence the name.
These are only a small selection of flowers and their meanings. For more information, have a look at the Victorian Flower Dictionary or the Farmer’s Almanac.
Flowers show us that while there is death, there is also life – the ultimate display of death and life in a continuous cycle. Whatever your personal beliefs, flowers are a sign of life triumphing over death as they return year on year to fill our lives with colour – an encouraging thought to many. It helps us remember that while the person lost has died, still death has not triumphed, as they live on in the memories and hearts of their friends and families, an enduring legacy.