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Funeral flowers and their true meaning

Image of a bouquet of flowers

The act of sending messages with flowers became popular during Victorian times as people utilised gestures and symbols for expression rather than words. However, as time passed the selection of flowers available has grown and Victorian symbolism has given way to individual interpretation. Today, you can choose a particular flower and colour to recall and celebrate memories of a special moment or passion of a person’s life.  At Willow we believe when organising a funeral, your decision is always the right one, however having the option to make informed choices always helps. 


Roses are very important specie of flower in the area of funeral arrangement. They are commonly used for casket sprays and standing arrangement with each colour having it’s own meaning:


Magnolias express sweetness, dignity, perseverance and love of Mother Nature. It is the ideal flower if the recently deceased is a nature and outdoor enthusiast. While the pink flower represents youth and innocence, the white one conveys purity and perfection. 

Red Roses

Red roses communicate love, respect and courage. This flower is most popular in casket stand and sprays, most especially for men.  People who have had an intimate relationship with the deceased like a spouse or lover tend to choose this flower to show their respect. 

White Roses

White roses symbolise reverence, purity, humility and innocence. Apart from red roses, this flower is the most commonly used funeral flower. They are used to express condolence no matter the relation, unlike red roses which are associated with passionate emotions. 

Yellow Roses

Yellow roses are most popularly used by friends to communicate strong feeling of friendship.

Pink Roses

Pink roses symbolise love, grace, elegance and most importantly admiration. They are a much lighter variety of red roses, both in symbolic meaning and colour. Pink roses are popularly used for casket sprays and standing for both men and women. 

Dark Crimson Roses

Dark crimson roses communicate grief and sorrow, which makes them common in traditional ceremonies but less so in a modern celebration.  


Lilies have over the years been used to convey the thought of innocence being restored to the soul of the deceased.  Other varieties like the white Calla Lily is an especially common funeral flower conveying purity, while the stargazer specie symbolises sympathy, which is why it is commonly sent to the relations of the deceased. Also oriental lilies represent eternal life, making them most perfect choice at religious services commemorating the life of the deceased. 


Orchids communicate a very strong suggestion of love with their sculptural beauty and air of exotic mystery. They are a symbol of splendor and refined taste with a uniqueness unlike any other flower.  A long lasting flower, people sometimes send orchids as a sympathy gift because they continue to bloom after other arrangements have wilted. It is as a result of this, sending orchid conveys everlasting love. 


Carnation are available in many colours. The Pink Carnation represents a mother's enduring love, making it ideal for flower arrangement at a mother’s or grandmother’s funeral.  Similar to Red Roses, Red Carnation conveys a very strong feeling and true love.  White Carnations however, represent faithfulness, purity and innocence. 


Camellias communicate remembrance and gratitude of the departed. The red specie evokes passion and love and are most commonly used to communicate the existence of romantic relationship. Conversely, white Camellias symbolise adoration and perfection.  They are also used to show different forms of love; like the love of a child to a mother. 


Just like the name suggest, the Forget-Me-Not is used are gifted with the expectation the recipient will not forget the giver. This flower is a true symbol of remembrance and is used by some countries as a symbol of those they have lost at war. 


Tulips generally denote perfect love. But like several other flowers mentioned in this article, Tulips are available in a variation of colours, each with it’s own significance and meaning.  Purple Tulips represents royalty while red are commonly used to express true love.  The meaning of yellow Tulips has evolved over the years from symbolising hopeless love, to now representing cheerful thoughts and sunshine. 

Finally, when selecting funeral flowers, the arrangement you choose should tell the story of the relationship you had with the departed. Was the deceased the love of your life? A close or distant family member? Whatever the relationship is, your choice of flower can reflect it. 

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