Preserving and displaying funeral flowers

always remembered with flower

One of the most beautiful expressions of love and remembrance that you will find at a memorial service or funeral service is the bouquets of flowers, the arrangements of colors and pairings of different types of flowers that may grace the alter, surround the casket or be sent the home of the family. Parting with the flowers after the services have come and gone is something that families may not be wanting to do. Perhaps the flowers are viewed as a way to remember the deceased or there are individual arrangements that remind them of their loved one. Whatever the reason, having an idea on how to choose, what to do to preserve the flowers or arrangement and ways in which the flowers can be displayed will make the overall process more efficient and help families create a lasting memory of the loved one that has passed.

Different types of floral funeral arrangements

There are five distinct types of floral arrangements typically selected for funeral or memorial services: funeral baskets, casket sprays, plants or dish gardens, standing floral sprays or floral wreaths, crosses, etc. Knowing not only what each arrangement is typically crafted of and how the arrangements are constructed can help families decide which will work best for their individual situation.

basket of flowers

Funeral Baskets

Funeral baskets are one of the most common types of floral arrangements for memorial services. Fresh flowers are placed in a basket or other decorative container and the stems of the flowers are arranged by sticking them into a discreetly hidden or placed foam base that is soaked with water and the flowers are at different heights and may be all the same color but different types of flowers, different colors of the same type of flowers such as carnations or roses or a mix of different colors and different types of flowers such as a wildflower basket. These baskets may be sent to the home, the funeral home or the church and may line the steps to the alter, they may be placed sporadically around the funeral home during the wake or the basket may sit as a focal point on a kitchen table or kitchen island.

casket flowers

Casket Sprays

The top of the casket is the resting place for a casket spray arrangement. The casket sprays are typically available in two different sizes; half casket and full casket. The full casket arrangement is ideal for those services that are a closed casket service and a half casket spray is appropriate for a wake or service that is open casket and the spray can sit on the lower half of the casket. Because casket displays are very personal and are placed on the casket of the deceased, they are generally sent by immediate family members of the deceased such as a spouse, a parent or children. The casket spray may be all white or may be in colors that were favorites of the deceased.

dish garden

Plants or Dish Gardens

Dish gardens are a great alternative for close friends of the family of the deceased and consist of a plant, green or blooming, and typically are set in a decorative dish or pot. The dish gardens or plants are generally sent to the home of the family or work environment of a family member of the deceased and provide a personal yet respectful way to offer condolences. The plants may be kept at home during the services or perhaps displayed on the pulpit at the funeral service or wake.

flowers in vase

Standing Floral Sprays

Standing flower sprays are displayed on easels and are the displays of flowers that you find standing next to the casket or the urn at a funeral service. The arrangements are generally oversized and expressive and may be displayed at the wake as well as at the funeral service itself. Typically sent by immediate family members or close friends of the family, standing floral arrangements are expressions of the deceased and are typically all white or an array of colors that hold particular meaning to the family or were favorite colors of the deceased.

funeral wreath

Flower wreaths, hearts, crosses, etc.

Much like standing floral sprays, flower wreaths or other designs like hearts are often displayed next to the casket or surrounding the alter. The sprays are shaped into the wreath or the heart and are often crafted of one flower such as roses. Floral wreaths are one of the more popular as the circle shape is symbolic of eternal life. Many flower wreaths may be a combination of two distinct shapes such as a cross and a heart and the arrangement may also be further decorated with a banner that has a bible verse, the name of the deceased or perhaps a phrase that holds special meaning.

Choosing which flower arrangements to preserve

There are pros and cons to each of the five types of floral arrangements when it comes to preserving them in memory of a loved one. Take a look at our chart below.

ArrangementProsCons
Funeral Baskets
Pros
  • Baskets are smaller in size and very portable.
  • Can be easily displayed in multiple areas of the home.
Cons
  • Typically live flowers so their longevity is short.
  • Those particular flowers might not appeal to your sense of style or home decor.
  • Need to be preserved immediately and maintaining the design of the arrangement can be difficult due to the basket.
Casket Spray
Pros
  • Very personal to the deceased and to the family.
  • Diverse selection of flowers included in the arrangement.
  • Can be preserved and used as a focal decoration such as a centerpiece on a formal dining room table.
Cons
  • The arrangement is larger in size which can make preserving challenging.
  • Because of where the spray is placed on top of the casket, family members may not feel comfortable with the intimacy of proximity to the deceased.
  • Many casket sprays are buried with the deceased due to the personal nature of the arrangement.
Plants or Dish Gardens
Pros
  • Very adaptable to displaying in the home or office.
  • Plant can be displayed as is and serve as a living reminder of a loved one - no need to 'preserve'.
  • Can be repotted or planted outside.
Cons
  • Plants and dish gardens are not as personal as a floral arrangement and may lack what the family is looking for as a memorial.
  • Plants cannot really be 'preserved' - they must be kept alive.
Standing Floral Sprays
Pros
  • Personal to the deceased as the arrangement is typically choen by someone that was close to them.
  • The colors of the flowers are often symbolic of faith or to the preference of what the deceased liked.
Cons
  • Standing sprays are generally larger than a basket arrangement and preserving all of the flowers and the integrity of the design can be challenging.
Flower Wreaths, Hearts, Etc.
Pros
  • Floral wreaths are personal to the deceased and is generally sent by a close friend or a member of the family.
  • The shape of the arrangement is significant to how the family remembers the deceased.
Cons
  • The arrangement is much like the standing floral spray and preserving can be a challenge.
  • It can be difficult to display in the home given the size of the arrangement is typically quite large.

Tips to help with choosing which flowers to preserve:

  • Decide where you’re going to display.

    If you are looking to hang on the wall as a piece of art, make sure that you have ample room for the arrangement that you’ve chosen. Sprays or wreaths are your best option for a wall display. If choosing to place on a surface, baskets or plants are ideal.

  • Think about color.

    If you have an aesthetic side to your sense of design and care about the colors matching, choose your arrangement accordingly. If the sentimentality of the design is of greater importance than choose accordingly.

  • It’s okay to share.

    There may be so many arrangements to choose from that you simply can’t choose. Don’t be afraid to share or ask other family members if they would like to choose an arrangement to have and preserve. Be clear about which ones are off limits and which ones are available. This not only lets others take part in having their own memory but it assures the family that the flowers are going to people that loved the deceased.

  • Mixing and matching is okay.

    Maybe there are parts of each arrangement that you would like to share or you would like to combine flowers from the casket spray and a flower wreath. That is perfectly okay. Individual flowers can be removed and preserved as a unique bouquet in honor of the loved one that has passed.

Methods to preserve flowers

The most difficult part of the process of creating a remembrance of your loved one with the flowers is preserving the arrangements or the individual flowers. There are various methods used to preserve an arrangement depending on the style and type of arrangement you have selected.

Hanging dry

This is perhaps the easiest method but not ideal for larger arrangements. Gather any loose flowers that you are looking to preserve and tie the stems together at the bottom. Hang the flowers upside down, using the end of the string to attach to a rod or hanger. The flowers should be hung in a room that is dry and relatively warm such as a closet. Refrain from hanging in a damp cellar, laundry room or other places that are full of moisture as this will delay the drying process. Expect the process of hang drying to take from one to three weeks.

Oven drying

Preheat the oven at it’s lowest setting. Cover the bottom of a shallow baking pan with enough sand that you cannot see the bottom of the pan. Place the flowers on the sand and then cover the flowers completely with additional sand. Oven drying takes anywhere from one to two hours.

Drying in sand

Punch holes in a cardboard box and cover the bottom of the box with newspaper. Add fine what sand to the bottom of the box - no more than 1/2 inch. Lie the flowers, stems and foliage in the box face down and cover completely with sand. Leave the flowers for 10 days. Using care, punch through the newspaper from the bottom of the box and allow for the sand to drain. Shake the box gently to remove any excess sand and then remove the preserved flowers from the box.

Using Borax

To preserve flowers using borax, use a ration of 1:1 borax and corn meal or sand. Sift the mixture together and select the method for drying the flowers: face up, face down or horizontal.

  • Face Up

    Place a shallow box on top of another box, leaving about 8-10 inches of space between the bottoms of the two boxes. Either cut out a space in the top box for all the flowers to fit through or, if drying individual flowers, punch holes to allow for the stems to slide through, making sure that the heads of the flowers are not touching. The borax sand mixture is sifted onto the flowers and around the flowers until the flowers are completely but lightly covered.

  • Face Down.

    Add an inch of the borax sand mixture to the bottom of a box. Make little mounds of the mixture and place the individual flowers on top of the mixture. Sift the mixture around the petals and base of the flowers. Only allow for one layer of flowers per box.

  • Horizontal.

    See face down above. Use the same method for horizontal as you would for face down.

Test a flower head after a couple of days and check for dryness. When dry, use a soft brush to gently remove all the borax and sand mixture from the flowers and petals.

Pressing

Ideal for individual flowers or flower heads and foliage, you can place the flower between layers of newspaper and then placing a weight such as a heavy book on top of the newspaper. Newspaper is extremely absorbent and leave for 5-10 days.

Commercial dryers

There are a lot of commercial products available on the market that are specially designed for drying flowers. Go to your local craft store and look for products such as Flower-Dri or other products. Typically more expense, they do increase the drying process and are excellent at preserving the colors of the flowers as well as the design.

Ways to Display

There are infinite possibilities when it comes to displaying flower arrangements that have been preserved. Depending on your time, your home’s decor and simply what you are looking for aesthetically, there are options that capture the love as well as serve as a beautiful memorial to the deceased.

Frame it

flowers in frame

Choose flowers from a particular arrangement or from several different arrangements and frame it in a shadow box. The flowers can be arranged in the desired shape and then dried or dried individually. Place the in a shadow box along with a family picture, a lock of hair or another memento of the deceased and hang it anywhere in your home. The framed flowers can also be placed away in a hope chest or simply wrapped and stored to give to a child or loved one as a gift in the future.

Place over the mantle

mantle flower

Casket sprays or wreaths can be dried and placed as a work of art over the mantel or even in the entry way or foyer. This serves as a beautiful reminder of a loved one that is also visually appealing and adds depth and beauty to a room. If choosing a wreath, additional silk flowers can be added or placed strategically on the wreath or on the mantle depending on the time of year or a particular holiday should you choose.

Use as a centerpiece on a table

flower centerpiece

Certain dried displays may be used as a decorative centerpiece for the table. Whether used as an everyday centerpiece or saved for special occasions, it allows for families to keep the memory of the deceased with them at a place where the family gathers. Be sure to store the centerpiece in a cool dry place and make certain that the storage container is large enough that pieces of the flowers or the arrangement are not being broken off upon removal from the container.

Create magnets

flower magnet

Dried flowers from the funeral arrangements can be dried and then laminated and attached to a magnet. The magnets can decorate a refrigerator, a locker or any metals surface such as a work bench and make for terrific gifts to friends and loved ones. This is a wonderful way to get children involved as well and help them with their grief in creating a memory of someone that they loved.

Add the flower petals to jewelry

jewelry that will hold flower petals

Take some of the dried flower petals and add them to a piece of jewelry. Sometimes something as personal as cremated ashes is just too intimate, too much perhaps. Crushed flower petals can be easily added to the inside of a piece of cremation jewelry and provide a personal reminder of a loved one without having to utilize a physical part of the deceased. Additionally, a likeness of a particular arrangement could be photo engraved onto a piece of jewelry and worn as a remembrance to the deceased or displayed from the rearview mirror or elsewhere.

Place in a display cabinet

flowers in display

Preserved arrangements can make for a beautiful addition to a curio cabinet or display hutch. Place the arrangement on one of the shelves and surround the arrangement with additional reminders of the deceased - perhaps a photo, a framed bible verse or poem or even a family picture. You can choose individual flowers, flower petals or as much of the arrangement as possible.

Candle decorations

flowers with candles

Take the dried flowers and brush them with a specially designed adhesive that you can find at most craft stores. After applying the adhesive, press firmly to the side of the candle and once set, apply a protective finish. The candle can be place inside a hurricane lamp and placed next to a picture of your loved one or do multiple candles and use them as decorative accents throughout the home. Additionally, flower blooms, flower petals or small parts of the arrangement can be strategically placed around a cluster of candles to create a beautiful display.

Bookmarks

flower bookmark

Preserved arrangements can make for a beautiful addition to a curio cabinet or display hutch. Place the arrangement on one of the shelves and surround the arrangement with additional reminders of the deceased - perhaps a photo, a framed bible verse or poem or even a family picture.

Ornaments

flower ornament

Preserved arrangements can make for a beautiful addition to a curio cabinet or display hutch. Place the arrangement on one of the shelves and surround the arrangement with additional reminders of the deceased - perhaps a photo, a framed bible verse or poem or even a family picture.

When preserving the flowers isn't an option

There will be times or instances where preserving the arrangements isn’t an option. Maybe you are a close friend and the family doesn’t want to share. Maybe you are a sibling and there is dissension in the family. Or perhaps there was a particular arrangement that you would like for the home and maybe the site of an accident. Whatever the circumstance there are options that can help loved ones have a visual reminder of a particular arrangement that do not include having to preserve or have the physical floral arrangement to create the reminder.

Replicate a favorite design

Particularly with larger arrangements or wreaths, sometimes it is difficult to preserve the arrangement as a whole. Or maybe the arrangement is just too big and you want it on a smaller scale. Duplicate it! Go to your local craft store with a picture if possible and ask for assistance with duplicating the design. Not only does this allow you to size the arrangement as to what will best suit your needs but it also allows for choosing materials that can withstand the elements - such as at a gravesite or other outdoor location.

Create something new

Again, local craft stores can be a great resource. Choose silk flowers in their favorite colors or in styles that remind you of them - sunflowers for their sunny personality, red silk roses for the love you shared. Create your own special memorial to your loved one and display it in a place in your home or office that keeps them close.

Preserving or creating a memorial from the flowers from a funeral or memorial service is a wonderful way for families to integrate their memories with beauty.