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What is the Etiquette for Flowers on a Grave?

If you've ever been to a cemetery or seen one in a movie, you've likely encountered the imagery of someone leaving flowers at a grave of a loved one. But have you ever wondered about the etiquette behind this graveside tradition?

There are a few graveside etiquette rules to keep in mind when leaving flowers at a grave. For example, did you know that you should never place flowers on the ground? Or that some cemeteries only let you decorate a grave on certain days? Read on to learn all about the etiquette for flowers on a grave.

General cemetery rules for flowers and decorations

It's important to remember that every cemetery has its own set of rules for decorations and flowers. Our guidance is not exhaustive, nor does it speak for every cemetery; it's simply a list of guidelines that you should keep in mind or ask about before purchasing flowers (or other decorations) for a gravesite:

Placing items in the ground. Some families may be interested in placing flags, signs, or other memorabilia in the ground near the gravesite. Depending on the cemetery, this may or may not be allowed.

Decorating a grave with a grave blanket. Grave blankets are large floral arrangements that are placed on top of a grave. Many cemeteries allow these, but every cemetery has its own set of rules. Be sure to speak with your cemetery before purchasing this arrangement.

Attaching items to the headstone. If you're thinking of attaching any kind of item, such as a balloon, a flag, clip-on flowers, or other decorations -- ask before doing so. These items may be removed from the gravesite if they're restricted.

Decorating graves year-round. National cemeteries (and some other cemeteries) are more strict about their grave decorations and will only allow decorations during holidays. Meanwhile, many cemeteries will allow grave decorations throughout the year, so it’s important to know the cemetery’s policy before decorating a gravesite.

Leaving artificial flowers at a grave. Some cemeteries allow artificial flowers while others do not. The cemetery you're working with may also have specific guidelines around the size, type, and style of artificial flowers that can be displayed.

Decorating a cemetery gravesite with items other than flowers. Any items that aren't flowers may be prohibited at the cemetery you're working with. This means it's important to check before placing other items on a grave (such as solar lights, stuffed animals, signs, balloons, food, and other decorations).

Removal of graveside flowers and items from gravesites. If you violate the rules of the cemetery or place items in a way that interferes with groundskeeping, you run the risk of having your flowers or other items removed from the gravesite. To avoid this, be sure you're placing the items in a designated spot and not on the ground where a groundkeeper may mow or rake.

Contacting the cemetery ahead of time with any questions is the best way to ensure your decorations will be in-line with their requirements and will stay safe.

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How to put flowers on a grave

While this may seem simple, it's important to place flowers in the correct spot at a grave to ensure you're following graveside etiquette. When placing flowers on a grave, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • On the headstone. Flowers can be placed on top of the headstone, but it's important to make sure they're not in the way of anyone reading the headstone or obstructing the view of the gravesite.
  • In a vase. Many cemeteries have designated vases near gravesites for flowers. If your cemetery has these, make sure to use them instead of placing the flowers on the ground or on the headstone.
  • On the gravesite. Flowers can also be placed directly on the gravesite itself, but you shouldn’t block the view of the headstone.
  • On the ground. You should avoid placing flowers on the ground near a gravesite, as they may get in the way of cemetery groundskeeping equipment.

If you're unsure of where to place the flowers, it's always best to ask ahead of time or look for signs at the cemetery that indicate where flowers should go.

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How to secure flowers in a cemetery vase

If you're using a cemetery vase to place flowers at a gravesite, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure the flowers stay secure.

  • Use heavy-duty floral tape. You should use a strong floral tape, such as duct tape, to secure the stems of the flowers in the vase. This will help keep the flowers from blowing away or falling out of the vase.
  • Use styrofoam. You can purchase green styrofoam (to keep the aesthetic) and simply stick the stems inside the styrofoam, at the bottom of the vase. Sticking the stems inside the styrofoam ensures your flowers stay secure and stay in the vase.
  • Fill the vase with water. This will help keep the flowers fresh and secure in the vase. You can also add rocks or other weight to the bottom of the vase to keep it from tipping over.

By following these tips, you can help ensure the flowers you place at a gravesite will stay put and look great.

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Cemeteries are solemn places and it's important to be respectful of the gravesites and those who are buried there. By following graveside etiquette and taking care with your decorations, you can help ensure everyone can enjoy the beauty of the gravesite.

If you're searching for funeral flowers, you can use Ever Loved to find affordable and beautiful arrangements. You can also easily get in touch with cemeteries to find out their specific requirements and regulations when it comes to decorations. Ever Loved makes it easy to show your sympathy, support, or thoughts for a loved one who has passed away.

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Last updated October 13, 2022
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