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November 6, 2017 Beyond The Dash

Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings

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Funeral Flowers and Their Meanings
Ensure you know the meaning behind funeral flowers before sending them as a sympathy arrangement. (Shutterstock)

There's no getting around it: funerals are uncomfortable. Many people aren't sure how to dress, behave and express condolences when someone has passed away. Sending flowers is the simplest way to do this with tact. If the family has not expressed otherwise, it is a touching gesture, and a succinct way to say, “There are no words, but I am thinking of you.” 

While most families won't have a preference, it is important to find out the if the family has particular wishes for the funeral flowers. Use this funeral flower guide to select the perfect arrangement to express your condolences. 

Traditional funeral flowers


White flowers are traditionally sent when a loved one has passed. Lilies symbolize the restoration of innocence to the soul of the deceased. Sending lilies to the funeral home, place of worship, or home of the deceased is a sign of respect for the person who has passed and surviving loved ones. 

Lilies symbolize the restoration of innocence to the soul of the deceased. (Shutterstock)

Lilies are the safest option for funeral flowers. If the wishes or religion of the family are not immediately known, send lilies. You may wish to choose a more personal arrangement, however, if the archetypal lily seems too impersonal.

Recommended: White Classic Lily Bouquet


Carnations are another traditional flower to send when a loved one has been lost; however, they offer a brighter, more vibrant impression. White carnations can be used to express respect and the voyage of the departed soul to paradise. Pink carnations have a religious context, representing, to some Christians, the tears that Mary wept for her son. Because of this, carnations symbolize the strength of a mother's love.

Carnations are often made into standing sprays and funeral wreath arrangements. Arrangements such as this are best sent to the funeral home directly for display during the service.

Recommended: FTD Uplifting Moments Arrangement


Orchids can have very different meanings, depending on the color. When expressing condolences, stick to either white or pink. Live orchids are typically preferred to clipped orchids—however, they are notoriously difficult to keep alive. If the person receiving flowers on behalf of the family isn't much of a green thumb, you may wish to send a different arrangement. Set grieving people up for success by giving them hardy perennials. 

Recommended: FTD White Orchid Planter


Roses are a more formal way to express your condolences. Like with orchids, color is key. White roses are an elegant expression of sympathy, again symbolizing the return of innocent souls to heaven. Pink roses can show gratitude, appreciation and thanks. Send yellow roses to close friends who are in mourning. Avoid sending red, orange, purple or black roses as an expression of sympathy.

Roses are a formal funeral flower choice. (Shutterstock)

Recommended: Delightful Sunshine Bouquet


Hydrangeas are a hardy perennial, and the ideal addition to a sympathy arrangement. Hydrangeas signify deep sincerity and gratitude for understanding. Color doesn't matter as much with this flower type, but white hydrangeas are a way to express spirituality and mourning. Purple, pink or blue hydrangeas are just as acceptable, and might add a dash of color to a dark day. Sending a hydrangea plant is the perfect way to express sympathy with a living arrangement. 

Recommended: FTD In Loving Memory Arrangement


Tulips of all colors are appreciated when someone has passed away. Spring flowers bring optimism and freshness in the wake of a loss. Tulips represent perfect and enduring love. They are also not the fanciest flower in the garden, so may not make the perfect accoutrement for a formal arrangement. Tulips are the perfect choice if you wish to express your heartfelt condolences simply.

Recommended: Bright Lights Bouquet


Representing springtime and rebirth, daffodils are often the first flowers to bloom in spring. Like tulips, daffodils are a bright and cheerful addition to a funeral floral arrangement—while avoiding extreme formality. Rebirth, introspective reflection, and understanding all come to mind when daffodils are part of an arrangement. 

Recommended: European Garden


Chrysanthemums represent support from family and loved ones, making it the quintessential part of an informal sympathy arrangement. They hold a secondary meaning of hope for recovery after a testing or difficult time. Chrysanthemums are particularly meaningful following a long illness or time spent in the hospital. Chrysanthemums show unconditional love, cheerfulness and loyalty to grieving family and friends. 

Recommended: Sympathy Floor Basket


A more formal choice for funeral flowers would include gladioli. Any color is acceptable, since gladioli represent strength, morality, integrity, faith and endurance. Pink is a safe, traditional choice for gladioli. Because of their long, tall stems, they are ideal for a formal spray as a featured arrangement at the funeral of a loved one. 

Recommended: FTD Greater Glory Basket

Having read this funeral flower guide, you should now be able to make an informed decision about the types of that are acceptable in a sympathy arrangement. Remember: most people won't be able to tell the difference between flower types. So don't sweat it if you can't find the perfect white lilies. As long as you have thoughtfully considered the particular family, the gesture of sending flowers will show you care.

Now that you've selected the best type of flowers for the occasion, check out our funeral arrangement selection guide to ensure your condolence message is timely and tactful. 

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