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What Kind of Flowers Should I Buy for a Funeral?

by Linnea Crowther

A guide to which sympathy flowers are often used to remember the most important people in our lives.

Funeral flowers are a beautiful reminder of the life and legacy of the deceased.

Certain blooms symbolize special relationships, honoring the bond between best friends, a mother and child or a married couple. Below, we’ve created a guide to which sympathy flowers are often used to remember the most important people in our lives.


For a Mother (or Mother Figure): Carnation

Many people wear a carnation pinned to their shirt on Mother’s Day, showing love for the woman who raised them. The carnation’s maternal connection carries over into funeral flower arrangements. Carnations come in many colors but pink carnations are most commonly associated with mothers (in large part because of the Catholic belief that they first grew from the Virgin Mary’s fallen tears).

For a Father (or Father Figure): Gladiolus

If you’re honoring someone who provided fatherly guidance in your life, the gladiolus is a natural choice. These blooms express respect for the deceased’s strong character and integrity. The connection to strength can be traced back to ancient Rome, where the flowers were associated with gladiators (the pointed leaves are reminiscent of a sword, “gladius” in Latin).

For a Best Friend: Iris

The iris symbolizes admiration and friendship. Gardeners know that irises can grow in unlikely and unexpected spots… a fact that reminds us that the most cherished friendships often grow from unlikely circumstances.

For a Spouse or Significant Other: Rose

Across the world, the rose is associated with love. And while rose petals take many colors, red petals are most closely tied to romance. Joe DiMaggio famously sent bouquets of roses to ex-wife Marilyn Monroe’s grave twice a week for more than 20 years.

For a Child: Baby’s Breath

Baby’s breath represents purity and innocence. The small white blossoms are used to honor loved ones of all ages, but are particularly appropriate when honoring a young person who was taken too soon.

For Someone You’ll Remember Forever: Orchid or Forget-Me-Nots

Forget-Me-Nots symbolize true and everlasting love. A spouse might choose to include them in a funeral arrangement as a symbol of devotion to their deceased partner.

Orchids are treasured not only for their exquisite beauty, but also because they keep blooming long after other arrangements have wilted. Because of that longevity, they’re associated with everlasting love — the kind that stays strong even after someone is gone.

For the Loved Ones Left Behind: Azalea or Hydrangea

Funeral flowers aren’t only for the deceased—they’re also meant to show support for those who are mourning. Azaleas in particular are given as a symbolic message to “Take care of yourself,” an important sentiment to extend to the bereaved.

The hydrangea, too, is a thoughtful gift for mourners. It blooms seasonally, so if planted, can serve as an ongoing reminder of the giver’s love and support.

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