How to Make a Side Vase Arrangement for the Cemetery

Updated July 20, 2017

Putting flowers on a loved one's grave is a way to honour those who have passed on. Sometimes floral arrangements are placed in front of the grave where they can block the person's name. Side vase arrangements are placed beside the tombstone, often on the footing of the monument or on the ground beside it, where they are noticeable but do not cover the wording. Fresh flowers will last two to seven days and will require water daily on hot days. Silk flowers will last a few months if secured properly to avoid being blown away in high winds.

Fill a cemetery vase with lukewarm water. Pour flower preservative into the vase and stir until dissolved.

Choose the flowers. Use the loved one's favourite flower, or use common flowers, such as carnations, roses, lilies and larkspur. Choose a seasonal flower for holidays like roses for Valentine's Day and anniversaries, lilies or tulips for Easter for spring, coneflower or daisies for summer, red, white and blue flowers for patriotic holidays like Labor Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, and poinsettias or holly for winter holidays.

Cut the flower stems to fit the vase. Place the stem under running lukewarm water. Slice the stem at a 45-degree angle with a sharp knife or scissors. Repeat cutting the stems until all the flower stems are cut. Put the stems into a vase of water while the others are being cut.

Arrange the flowers. Place the largest flower's stem in the front of the vase. Add smaller flowers around the larger flower. Add greenery or filler flowers like fern, dusty miller, baby's breath or wax flower in between the flowers in the vase until the arrangement is pleasing to the eye.

Separate the flower bunches so you have a single flower on each stem. Cut the stems with wire cutters so they will fit in the vase. Choose greenery and filler flowers like ferns, dusty miller, baby's breath, ivy and wax flower to fill out the arrangement. Cut the greenery and filler flower stems shorter if needed.

Affix steel picks to the flower, greenery and filler flower stems with a floral pick machine. Steel picks secure the flowers in the foam so they will not be easily blown out of the arrangement on windy days. Place the cut end of your flowers, greenery and filler flower stems into the mouth of the pick machine. Pull the handle down to attach a metal pick on to the end of the stem. Attach picks to the ends of all the flower, greenery and filler flower stems.

Cut a piece of styrofoam to fill the vase with a sharp knife. Anchor the foam to the container with floral tape.

Place the pick of the largest flower into the foam. Fill around the largest flower with smaller flowers. Fill between the flowers with greenery and filler flowers until the arrangement is complete.


Add personal touches to the arrangement like photos, bows, crosses, religious icons and flags. Attach photos and bows to Popsicle sticks with glue and add them into the arrangement. Miniature flags can be put into the arrangement to honour soldiers on patriotic holidays.


Know the cemetery guidelines before placing flowers on graves.

Things You'll Need

  • Cemetery vase
  • Flower preservative
  • Spoon
  • Fresh flowers
  • Knife or scissors
  • Greenery and/or filler flowers
  • Silk flowers
  • Wire cutters
  • Silk greenery
  • Silk filler flowers
  • Steel picks
  • Floral pick machine
  • Floral tape
  • Styrofoam
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About the Author

Rachelle Proulx has been writing since 2000. She co-owns a pet-sitting company, providing her the experience to cover pet care and small business. Proulx is also a flooring specialist who writes about flooring options, preparation, application and maintenance.