How to make cemetery flower arrangements

Updated November 22, 2016

Placing a flower arrangement at a grave in a cemetery shows that the deceased is remembered and loved. Creating your own cemetery arrangement -- whether you use store bought flowers or blooms from your own garden -- adds a personal touch. A practice that dates as far back as the time of ancient Rome, placing flowers on the grave of a loved one is often done for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. A fresh floral arrangement at a grave symbolises life and rebirth.

Contact the management of the cemetery where you want to place a floral arrangement to learn the rules and requirements for grave adornment. Many cemeteries restrict flower arrangements to specific holidays, or do not allow flower displays at all.

Prepare the flowers you are going to use. Fresh cut flowers from your garden should be harvested in the early morning when the stems are fully hydrated. Store bought and fresh cut flowers need to be conditioned for retaining freshness and longevity. Recut the stems at a 45-degree angle, then submerge the stems in lukewarm water. Place the container of flowers in a cool dark place for one to two hours. By doing this, you are hydrating the stems, leaves, and flower heads with needed nutrients that will keep the flowers fresher, longer.

Cut the floral foam with a sharp knife to fit inside the heavy vase or container you are going to use for your arrangement. You could also fill the bottom of the vase or container with 2 or more inches of pebbles to add weight. Because of weather conditions, including wind, rain, or snow, it is important to provide sufficient weight in the bottom of the vase or container to keep it upright.

Soak the florist foam thoroughly in water that has commercial floral preservative added; follow the instructions on the floral preservative package for preparation. You can soak the floral foam in the vase or container you are going to use for the arrangement. The more of this solution the foam can absorb, the longer and fresher your cemetery flowers will last.

Arrange your cut flowers in the vase or container by carefully inserting the stems into the floral foam. The arrangement style will depend on the flowers you have chosen and the shape and size of your vase or container. You will need to consider if the arrangement will be viewed from various angles or placed directly in front of the headstone and seen only from the front.

Take a sealed container of the water/floral preservative mixture with you to the cemetery when you deliver your arrangement. After you have placed the arrangement where you want it at the grave, fill the vase with the water/preservative mixture.


Remove any leaves or foliage that will be submerged underwater in your arrangement. Submerged foliage increases the production of bacteria in the water and will shorten the life of your arrangement flowers. Every three to four days, return to the cemetery to either add more water/preservative to the arrangement or dump out the water/preservative in the vase and replace it with fresh. This will help keep the arrangement fresh.


Avoid including daffodils in your cemetery flower arrangement, because cut daffodil stems release a toxin in the water that will wilt other flowers. If you wish to use daffodils, make your arrangement completely with the flower and no other.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh cut flowers
  • Greenery
  • Heavy bottomed vase
  • Florist foam
  • Sharp knife, scissors, or pruners
  • Floral preservative
  • Water
  • Pebbles
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