Flowers for a grave

Updated March 23, 2017

Flowers are given to commemorate many occasions and are often used for ornamentation at graves. Depending on the variety, arrangement and colour they may be symbolic of different sentiments such as love, friendship, sympathy and respect. However, no single variety of flower is specific to grave arrangements. Be sure to check the rules and regulations of a given burial site before leaving an offering. Most cemeteries and burial sites permit visitors to leave cut flowers with certain restrictions. (E.g. Flowers may not be placed at the foot of the grave.) Some prohibit the use of fake flowers. If you are interested in planting flowers, you may have to purchase planting pots, secure adjoining plots or select an alternative burial ground such as a natural cemetery.


The true forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpioides) is a flowering plant that grows in a short bush. The blossoms vary in colour and may appear white, blue, purple or a combination of the three. Forget-Me-Nots may be purchased alone or as part of a larger arrangement. These delicate flowers are symbolic of remembrance and true love -- touching sentiments for any grave site. You may also plant them near the grave in a partially-shady area. Baring severe weather conditions and land disturbance, the flower will reseed and bloom annually. The plant is considered to be an invasive species and should not be placed near other small plants.


Roses are a favourite flower for all occasions for their hardiness, versatility and variation. White roses are appropriate for graves as they are symbolic of reverence, sympathy and spirituality. If bringing cut roses to a graveside, place the bouquet in a clean vase of water to extend the life of the roses. If planting a rose bush, keep in mind that consistent maintenance is required to ensure healthy growth.

Bleeding Hearts

The bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is an unusual flower shaped like a broken heart. The blossoms grow evenly along thin branches making them suitable for sprays and wreathes. According to legend, the flowers blossomed from the blood of a mother so that her young daughter would remember her. The flower is symbolic of undying love and gratitude.

Additional Flowers

Sunflowers, daisies, plumeria and marigolds are examples of bright, sunny flowers that might be placed at a grave to add visual colour and warmth. Flowers may also be enclosed in a decorative, display box for year-round protection. Consider using silk, ceramic or freeze-dried blooms.


The Hawaiian naupaka is a tall, wide plant with small, white blossoms. Naupaka has an unusual growth pattern that causes petals to form in a semicircle. Beach naupaka has petals on the lower half, while mountain naupaka has upright petals. A local Hawaiian story says this is because the two plants are actually star-crossed lovers waiting to be reunited. This flower may be planted at the graves of a husband and wife to symbolise the eternal connection between lovers.

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About the Author

Sylvia Cini has written informative articles for parents and educators since 2009. Her articles appear on various websites. Cini has worked as a mentor, grief counselor, tutor, recreational leader and school volunteer coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Clark University of Worcester, Massachusetts.