Flowers for a grave

Written by sylvia cini
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Flowers for a grave
Place plants near graves for permanent ornamentation. (grave of an Unknown Soldier image by Lise Powell from

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.

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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.

The centre of forget-me-nots may be off-white or bright yellow.
The centre of forget-me-nots may be off-white or bright yellow. (Flower forget-me-not image by andrus from


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.

Flowers for a grave
Spritz flower heads and leaves with hairspray to retain colour and shape. (red roses image by OMKAR A.V from

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.

Flowers for a grave
Bleeding hearts have intense, near-hot pink outer petals. (wet bleeding heart 02 image by Michael Cornelius from

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.

Flowers for a grave
Marigold borders may be planted to protect more sensitive plants. (marigolds on concrete image by tomcat2170 from


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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