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Cut Flowers: Flowers for the Cemetery

Updated on January 5, 2020
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Laura has been photographing historical, abandoned, and rural ruins in Ontario since getting her first digital camera in 2006.

Here in Canada and the US people plant flowers still, but the cemeteries don't like it any more. The groundskeepers want to keep it simple and no work. So people take artificial flowers instead. Plastic flowers last better in the rain but tend to blow away and then don't look nice for long. The silk flowers don't handle the weather very well and soon look pretty ragged.

Cut flowers are allowed. But cemeteries will not be responsible for anything like a vase, which the flowers come with. The simplest thing is cut flowers without any accessories. These will not need to be picked up and disposed of as they can usually be cut along with the grass and disposed of along with the grass clippings.

I've gone to the cemetery and collected artificial flowers which had blown away and still looked nice. I brought them back and put them on my kitchen table, in a vase. Some people would think that's in poor taste. But, the groundskeepers will collect the flowers too. Then he or she will throw them all away. I just see my gathering of the flowers as recycling.


Flowers for a Funeral

Typical flowers sent or given at funerals are:

  • lilies
  • carnations
  • gladiolas
  • chrysanthemums

Other flowers which work well and last as cut flowers are good choices:

  • daisies
  • iris
  • tulips
  • zinnias
  • cosmos
  • daylilies
  • sunflowers
  • marigolds

Picking Colours

White flowers are traditional mourning flowers in many countries. My older relatives all disliked white lilies because, for them, they were the flowers of funerals. So, you might not want to go with the traditional colour (or the traditional flower) in every case.

White carnations are pretty traditional too. They have the advantage of being durable, able to last well as a cut flower. Some will also smell nice. But, I've found most of the carnations sold in stores no longer have the cinnamon smell, as I remember it.

Red flowers are meant to show passion, even in death. You would pick red flowers for a husband or wife, or someone else you've been intimate with and don't mind having it known by all.

Purple was a royal colour and a mourning colour as well. In Spring, purple tulips would be suitable for just about anyone, men or women.

Cut Flower Kit for DIY

Conditioning Cut Flowers

Cut all stems at an angle. This helps them to get water up the stem while they are in the vase/ arrangement. Use sharp scissors or a knife so the cut is clean and you cut it without pinching the end closed. If possible, cut the stem under water.

Remove any foliage (leaves) which touches the water or lies below the waterline. Anything in the water will encourage algae and bacteria which will stink and cause the foliage to rot as well.

Florists will often provide cut flower water additives in a package with the flowers. If you are doing your own arrangement you can create the formula yourself. For every quart of water, add two aspirins, a teaspoon of sugar, and a few drops of bleach.

Check the water often - make sure the flower stems are covered. Change the water about every 5 days. You will probably need to trim your flowers too. Deadhead them and cut more off the stems - anything beginning to rot needs to be cut off.

Keep your flowers out of direct sunlight and avoid heat or cold from any other source. Heat will cause them to wilt sooner.

The best time to cut the flowers in your own garden is the early morning.

Some people add a copper penny to the bottom of the vase but there is so little copper in pennies now, I doubt this advice has the same value. The Canadian Mint stopped making pennies this year even.


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