How to choose funeral flowers

For hundreds of years, people have used flowers as a way of expressing their feelings at funerals. We are all familiar with the sight of coffins adorned with beautiful and elaborate arrangements, and wreaths sent as a mark of respect.

Do we even need flowers?

In recent years, people have taken different approaches to floral tributes.  As online donations and tributes have become easier, you may prefer people to donate to a favourite charity or organisation, instead of spending money on flowers.

If this is your preference, do make that clear to everyone attending.  Use wording such as ‘family flowers only, with donations to …..’

It is likely that, even if you don’t want huge swathes of flowers, you will want to choose something to adorn the coffin.  There can be a bewildering amount of choice, but it’s important that you choose something that you are happy with in terms of style and budget.

Here are some of the options available


Classic coffin sprays lay on top of the coffin and are usually around 60 inches in length. Many are a mix of foliage and flowers and popular choices include roses, lilies, carnations and other seasonal blooms. Smaller sprays are usually formed in a teardrop shape.

Sheafs and baskets

Perfect for a display of seasonal colours or a collection of flowers with particular meanings, sheafs and baskets are a great way for family members to show their thoughts and sympathies.


A traditional circular wreath signifies the circle of eternal life. These can be customised with decorative ribbons and seasonal flowers.


Popular shaped floral tributes include hearts, cushions and crosses. Sizes and colours can be personalised to suit. 

Specialist tributes

Names such as Mum or Dad, sporting items such as rugby balls or football shirts and teddies or shamrocks are all popular choices. Often displayed on top of the coffin and in the window of the hearse as it travels, they can provide a truly personalised touch.

Give them personality

There are standard arrangements on offer but do think about the person you are remembering.  Did they have a particular favourite flower or season?  Do you always associate them with a particular colour?  Was their style formal or would they rather something wild and unstructured.

Lilies and roses are a traditional choice, but there are many options available to suit all styles and budgets.

Over the centuries, different flowers have come to take on different meanings.

These are what some of our most popular flowers represent.

Lilies – These are a popular choice for funerals and represent restored innocence

Gladioli – These are dramatic and impactful flowers which can be used to convey strength of character and moral integrity

Roses – These come in many colours, from deep romantic red to vibrant yellow.  Whatever the colour, they represent everlasting love, and hope.

Carnations – These are popular as they are relatively inexpensive (so you can have a lot of them!) and they last well after the service. Pink carnations represent remembrance and white carnations represent pure love, which make a meaningful combination.

Seasonal flowers

Depending on the time of year, spring flowers can provide a joyful and informal tribute.  Daffodils and tulips symbolise fresh starts and bring hope to people after a long, difficult time. Tulips in particular can offer an explosion of colour through red, orange and yellow.

Sending Flowers

If you do wish to send flowers in remembrance, these are usually delivered by the florist directly to the funeral home. It’s important to remember that different faiths have varying etiquette rules around funeral flowers. All types of flower arrangements are usually welcome at Catholic and Protestant services. However, it is not customary to send flowers to a Jewish funeral and it’s considered good manners to seek consent from family members before sending flowers to an Islamic funeral. Red flowers are inappropriate at a Buddhist funeral and some Hindu ceremonies involve gifts of fruit, rather than flowers.

If you are a guest at a funeral, please make sure you check with either the family or the funeral director to find out what is wished for.

Other ideas

Whether you are arranging a funeral, or a guest, there are other ideas that you might want to consider.

Wild Flower Seeds are becoming very popular.  They are available as little cards that can be planted straight into the ground and come in attractive packaging.  You may want to consider giving them out to funeral attendees, so that they can plant them at home to have a memory of the deceased.  Alternatively, you may wish to send some along with a card as a means of condolence.

Take Your Time – Many people send flowers to the house of the deceased’s family or loved ones.  Often they are inundated and don’t have nearly enough vases.  Think about standing back and sending some later on. Often, after the funeral when things have ‘returned to normal’ for everybody else, can be a difficult time for those grieving.  Received flowers a couple of weeks later, to show they are in your thoughts, can be very welcome.

If you’d like some support and guidance in choosing funeral flowers, please speak to your local branch team, who will be happy to assist you.