All around the world, flowers that symbolise life are a part of funereal rites. With their beauty and colour, they serve to instil hope in the hearts of those left behind. The best flowers for a funeral are also the most traditional ones: chrysanthemums, roses, carnations and lilies. These flowers, which come in a variety of colours, can be used to suit different types of floral arrangements at funerals. Each flower in a particular shade of colour conveys certain emotions, allowing you to set the tone of the funeral service.
Chrysanthemums are a traditional choice for funeral flowers. They are available in multiple colours such as white, yellow, pink, tan and burgundy as well as double-shade varieties. Although any of the lighter-coloured shades work for funeral flower arrangements, white chrysanthemums are generally preferred because the white colour symbolises peace, truth, reverence and modesty. The subtlety of these flowers lends itself very well to practically all forms of funeral flower arrangements: wreaths, floral baskets or crosses. Double-shaded varieties work well as a base for wreaths.
Roses in combination with foliage make for a stunningly elegant effect. Red roses symbolise love and passion, but they also indicate courage. Pink roses are more feminine and graceful, and serve to remind people of hope beyond their immediate sadness. White and yellow roses may also be used to indicate peace, innocence and love. Although they suit all types of flower arrangements, roses go especially well in coffin spray arrangements in which they cover the entire length of the coffin.
Found in a multitude of colours, carnations are long-lasting and don't wilt easily. They are also available year round, making them one of the most widely used funeral flowers. Red carnations are often used as a base to prepare floral wreaths, and indicate passion and strength. White and pink varieties are also used in combination with other flowers to give a textured look to floral arrangements. The fact that they are not very expensive allows their use in greater proportion for casket sprays.
The way you use lilies as funeral flowers will depend on the variety. Asiatic lilies, for example, have smaller flowerheads and go well in sprays. Longiflorum lilies, the type in which the head of the flower appears trumpet-shaped, are available as white flowers only and are best used tied in sheaths to give an elegant, traditional appearance. To give prominence to funeral tributes, it's best to use Oriental lilies that open completely. Symbolising eternal life, lilies are often used in casket arrangements. Calla lilies give a peaceful appearance on lid sprays, but can be pretty expensive. The only problem with lilies is that you cannot predict when they will open and this can diminish the effect of an otherwise beautiful floral arrangement. It is important that pollen is removed before using these flowers, because it can cause staining.
The calming blue of the iris makes it one of the most graceful of flowers, implying hope and faithfulness. Irises are best used in combination with white-coloured flowers of any variety. One of the true blue coloured flowers, irises are less expensive than other similarly hued flowers such as delphiniums and hydrangea.