Flowers on a grave

Flowers to Plant on a Gravesite

Jupiterimages/ Images

Although many cemeteries no longer allow you to plant flowers around grave sites, you may be fortunate to have a loved one buried where you are able to grow flowers as a remembrance. Your choice of flowering plants may depend on whether the cemetery provides grave site plant care or if you will need to periodically visit the grave to maintain the beauty of your plants. Either way, growing flowers at the grave site of a loved one is a beautiful tribute.


Flowering bulbs can be an ideal solution for flowers planted at a grave site. Bright and cheery springtime bulbs like daffodil, lily of the valley, hyacinth and crocus can be planted once and reappear year after year with no additional maintenance required. Summer-blooming bulbs such as day lilies, anemones, freesias, calla lilies, and crocosmia are also well suited for grave sites. Frost-tender bulbs, such as gladiolus and dahlias, should be avoided if the cemetery is located in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 and lower, unless you live nearby and can go to the grave and lift the bulbs from the ground in the fall and replant again the following spring.


Geraniums have long been a traditional plant at headstones, partly because of the easy care and continual blooming of bright, cheerful flowers. With new hybrid geraniums being developed, you can find a hardy variety that will bear light frost. Hybrid geraniums also offer you a wide selection of blossom colors, rather than the traditional reds or pinks. If you decide to plant geraniums at a grave site, remember that the plant should have spent flower heads clipped to continue producing blooms, and, in warmer regions, geranium plants can grow quite large, which can obscure the headstone.


Colorful chrysanthemums are available in so many blossom and plant sizes that you can plant an assortment of chrysanthemums at your loved one’s grave to have blooms at different times throughout the summer and fall. Most chrysanthemum varieties are cold-hardy and can remain in the ground to return the next growing season. There will be minimal maintenance required with these plants, mostly deadheading spent blooms and cutting the plant stems back at the end of the season.


People are drawn to planting rose bushes at grave sites, particularly if the person was a gardener or loved a particular rose. Many grave sites will have rose trees planted, as they are easier for maintenance workers to work around without too much effort. A traditional rose bush will need extra care, as it would in your garden. Pruning is the main issue and many cemeteries will not extend themselves to do this. If you decide you want roses at a grave site, you will need to visit the grave periodically to maintain the bush, or select miniature rose bushes or rose trees.


Wildflowers can be perfect for flowers at a grave site since the wildflowers naturally thrive in the region the grave is located, and wildflowers will reseed for yearly blooming. Many annual plants, though not always considered wildflowers, also have the ability to reseed and will reappear yearly. Annual flowers like marigolds, saliva, zinnias and cosmos will flourish for many years at a grave site.

Potted Plants for a Cemetery

pot display image by Tom Curtis from

Potted plants for a cemetery memorial should be attractive, thrive on minimal care and tolerate dry spells. Cemetery maintenance employees may or may not be responsible for caring for graveside plants. Family visits can include some routine upkeep of containers, but potted plant need to look good all year without too much effort.

Variegated English Ivy

lierre 2 image by Nathalie P from

Variegated English Ivy (Hedera helix variegata) is a slow growing and generally non-invasive form of English ivy. This vine looks wonderful planted with taller ornamental plants, as it is evergreen and will cascade over the edge of the pot. It tolerates dryness once established, and grows in almost any potting mix. A light yearly pruning will shape this vine and keep it tidy. Most ivy varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 5 though 9, but prolonged cold weather will cause the foliage to die-back. Regrowth in spring will be rapid and healthy.

Bay Laurel

bay leaves image by Alison Bowden from

Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilus) is an evergreen shrub that can be easily pruned into an attractive tree form for containers. Although it is drought tolerant, bay plants in pots should be given regular water when they are young. The bay laurel is very slow growing, requiring re-potting after about five years. A mild fertilizer applied yearly will maintain the healthy green color of the leaves. It is hardy in Zones 8 through 10. In colder areas, remove the pot and store in a sunny area of the home or porch that does not experience freezing temperatures.

New Zealand Flax

New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax) is a dramatic plant for containers. Tall, spiky purple foliage grows up to 4 feet tall. This is a good selection as a lone container specimen because of its size. Phormiums require a bit more water in the summer. There are a number of commercially available self-waterering containers that will keep this plant moist during hot spells. In very hot areas, phormiums can be grown in afternoon shade. Hardy in Zones 8 through 10, New Zealand flax will survive in zone 7 despite freezing to the ground. Removing the container to a warm area for the winter will allow this plant to be grown in most of the country.

Maiden Grass

Maiden grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Gracillimus’ makes an airy background plant for containers. Delicate foliage is topped by plumed seed heads in late summer. Actual foliage color depends on the variety, ranging from silvery green to a light purple flush. Maiden grass should be grown in full sun for maximum health and color. Maiden grass is hardy in Zones 5 through 9.


sedum image by Sergey Goruppa from

Sedums are a vast family of succulent plants. There are ground covers, low perennials growing up to 2 feet tall, and small clumping forms. All are exceptionally tough and drought tolerant plants. A pot can be planted with Sedum ‘Autumn Delight’ as a focal point, and ‘Dragon’s Blood’ and ‘Cape Blanco’ as contrasting ground cover types. ‘Autumn Joy’ also has the advantage of attractive looking seed heads in winter. Most sedums are hardy in Zones 5 through 10. Some die-back can occur during very cold winters, but the foliage will grow again in spring.

Plants For Graves – Flowers Good For Planting On A Grave

Cemeteries are peaceful places for contemplation and reflection. The newly bereaved may wonder, “Can I plant flowers in a cemetery?” Yes, you can, though some cemeteries may have restrictions you need to follow. You can use flowers and plants to make the area attractive and commemorate someone’s life and our connection to them.

You must consider the size of the plant and be respectful of others who will visit the area. Graveside plantings should be small enough and manageable for long service as natural sentinels near the plot. Choose carefully when selecting plants for graves to provide a serene, non-invasive backdrop for a sensitive location.

Graveside Garden Plot

Most cemeteries have guidelines about what sizes and types of plants are allowed. The maintenance crews will have to be able to work around them without damaging the plants or causing more work. Trees or shrubs that become large or unruly over time are not a good choice.

When choosing plants for graves, consider what your loved one enjoyed the most. Was there a particular plant or flower that he/she really favored? The graveside garden plot can be used to reflect those preferences and help bring back good memories and provide solace. Additionally,

the choice should take into consideration the light levels and moisture availability.

Graveside Plantings

Flowers are a natural choice for graveside garden plots. Perennial flowers will provide visitors with annual color but they do need some maintenance to prevent spreading and messy habits. Annual flowers are a perfect choice but they require frequent supplemental watering. You will also have to plant a new display every year. Another way to provide plants for graves is to use containers. Again, you will need to check with the caretaker, but if containers are allowed, they prevent invasiveness and are smaller maintenance spaces.

Plots that are surrounded by trees are a challenge to populate with plants due to the shade. However, there are some shade loving plants that would be suitable including:

  • Daylilies
  • Hosta
  • Bleeding heart
  • Coral-bells

Avoid larger shrubs such as rhododendrons or camellias, which could take over the plot and obstruct the gravestone. Flowering bulbs, such as iris or hyacinth, are a good choice but the plants will start to spread over time into the turf.

Flowers good for planting on a grave are low-spreading varieties that can handle frequent mowing. Some varieties of ajuga, flowering thyme or even sedum will make colorful seasonal flower cover for the grave. Consider the height of the plant when choosing flowers good for planting on a grave. Some flowers will get quite tall and cover the gravestone.

Natural Plants for Graves

Planting native species around the grave is one of the best and lowest maintenance ways to provide greenery or flowers as a memorial. The graveside garden plot that relies upon native species will not need as much water and will blend into the natural surroundings. These plants will need less fuss and cannot be considered invasive, as they are a natural part of the wild species.

Check with the cemetery caretaker to determine which plants are acceptable for the graveside garden plot. Whatever choice you make, amend the soil with plenty of compost to help conserve moisture. If you are not going to be available to come water the plants, they may have to rely upon natural moisture or any extra spray from lawn irrigation.

DEAR JESSICA: I need your help. What kind of plants are well suited for cemeteries? I would love to find a perennial that can handle sun and dry soil and not grow wild. — Teresa Schomaker, Franklin Square

DEAR TERESA: There are several criteria to keep in mind when selecting plants to adorn a grave site. First, check with the cemetery about any planting rules it might have. Next, look for low-maintenance plants, because you won’t always be there to remove spent blooms or prune. Drought tolerance is equally important for the same reason.

Consider, too, the mature size of the plants. If the headstone is upright, you can use plants that grow up to about 1 1/2 feet tall; flat markers can be overwhelmed by large plants, so stick with low growers or ground covers. Finally, you probably want plants that provide interest all year long, or at least from spring through fall.

If you want to use only one plant that will provide multiple seasons of interest, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ would be an excellent choice. Thriving in full sun to part shade, it is drought-tolerant, perfectly sized at 12-23 inches tall and undergoes colorful changes throughout the season. Succulent foliage emerges in spring, and the plant puts forth flattened greenish flowers in summer that turn beige and gradually become tinged with pale pink hues that darken as the season progresses to rose, mauve and, by autumn, a seasonally appropriate maroon.

Or you might flank both sides of the stone with short evergreens, like dwarf spring-flowering azaleas, and fill the area between them with annuals such as New Guinea impatiens or Wave petunias for sunny spots, or vinca for sun to part shade. Both are available in a variety of colors. (Ordinary impatiens should be avoided, as they are susceptible to downy mildew.)

Another option would be planting a progression of plants to take over each season as their predecessors fade. This requires some maintenance, as you’ll want to clear away faded plants as each season ends. You might plant a Chrysanthemum centered directly in front of the stone, with spring-flowering bulbs, like crocus, hyacinth and/or daffodils in a half circle directly in front of it. This way, the bulb plants will bloom before the Chrysanthemum emerges, and by the time their foliage yellows and is ready to be cut back, the mum should be getting ready to take over behind them. Plant summer-blooming daylilies on either side of the mums, and they’ll provide color over the summer, when you can plant annuals where the bulb plants were. By the time the daylilies are done, the mum will be blooming. In fall, replace the annuals with pansies. They’ll complement the mums until frost and return to fill in around the bulb plants in spring.

For flat markers, keep it simple with a ground-hugging evergreen, like blue rug juniper, planted between the grave and a half-circle bed of Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’ or ‘Fulda Glow.’

DEAR JESSICA: I have one of those annoying roses that bloom all summer but only on new growth and only if I deadhead it. What is the best time of year to prune it, as it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. — Barbara Haynes, Hauppauge

DEAR BARBARA: Pruning revitalizes roses and encourages new growth, plus it keeps shrubs shaped nicely and prevents them from growing out of control. Time the pruning of your roses with the blooming of forsythia on your block in spring. For specific details and instructions for pruning more than 20 classes and species of roses that grow in our region, visit


More grave site plant ideas plus barrier plant tips


Q. I recently read your column where you answered the question about grave site plant ideas. I often receive this same question and compiled a list of plants suitable to planting at a grave site

. I wanted to share it with you and your readers.

A. Thanks for sharing this information. You provided lots of options. Just a reminder that when you are selecting plants for this or other situations, match them to the growing conditions, available space and maintenance requirements.

Q. I need a plant that is tall but doesn’t have full branches/leaves. I will be planting it to have some kind of barrier from our neighbors whose house is up higher than ours. But our yard is small, so I do not want to block the sunlight and make us feel closed in.

A. As a former city gardener I appreciate the challenge of creating privacy without feeling closed in. Consider tall ornamental grasses and annuals as you create your tall airy screen. You will, however, have to wait until early or mid-summer for them to reach full size and often later for them to flower.

Check out some of the taller, more upright and narrow ornamental grasses. Heavy metal and Northwind switch grasses grow 5 to 6 feet tall. Skyracer, Transparent and Windspiel moorgrass (Molinia) have 3-foot-tall rosettes of leaves topped with 6- to 8-foot-tall airy flowers.

Russian sage is a subshrub treated like a perennial here. Prune it back to 4 to 6 inches above the ground in early spring. Cosmos bipinnatus is a self-seeding annual. White, pink, lavender or red flowers top the fine 4- to 6-foot-tall foliage.

Verbena bonariensis is a biennial we treat as an annual. It can be challenging to find the plants, but once you plant it in the garden it will reseed. Luckily, our cold weather keeps this 4- to 5-foot-tall plant somewhat in check.

Decorative containers filled with annual grasses like papyrus, tropicals and annuals could more quickly provide the height you need. A strategically placed decorative trellis covered with a vine is another way to provide screening in small spaces.

Q. My friend and I both have Hoya plants growing in our homes. Hers has flowered and mine has not. Any idea why?

A. Start by evaluating the growing conditions and the care each plant receives. This trailing succulent, also known as wax plant, grows best in a sunny window and well-drained soil. Apply a flowering houseplant fertilizer only during periods of active growth.

Succulents tend to have a small root system compared to their top growth. Do not prematurely move the plant to a larger pot, as this can delay flowering.

Pot-bound plants growing in a cool location with slightly dry soil in winter and high humidity in summer are more likely to bloom.

Watch for long leafless stem-ends to appear. Leave these intact, as this is where the flowers will form.

Q. I have tried several times and failed at growing Verbena bonariensis from seed.

A. This can be a challenging plant to start indoors. Plant seeds 12 to 14 weeks prior to the last spring frost.

Improve germination by giving the seeds a brief two-week cold period first. Place the seeds in moistened compost in a plastic bag, or plant the seeds, and then place the whole container in the refrigerator. After the two weeks, plant if needed, and move the seeded containers to a warm, 65-degree, location for germination. Be patient, as it can take 28 days or more for seeds to germinate.

Grow seedlings in a bright location or under artificial lights with good air circulation. Turn seedlings in the window to ensure even growth, and keep artificial lights 4 to 6 inches above the top of the seedlings.

Email questions to Melinda Myers through, or write her at P.O. Box 798, Mukwonago, WI 53149.

Ideas for modern grave design with gravel and plants

  • Pebbles are available in white, gray, colorful and in subtle natural tones
  • Dig up the desired area about 20-25 cm deep
  • Remove all dead matter (weeds and roots) and stones
  • Lay sturdy fleece under the gravel so that weeds can not grow
  • Apply gravel to the desired spots throughout the area
  • Cutouts for the tombstone, leaves the plants, grave shells and grave lights
  • Pebbles can be interpreted into interesting shapes and patterns
  • Form with larger stones forms, z. As circles or diamonds, and fill with gravel
  • Order sufficient amount of gravel, determine with demand calculator in the specialized trade
  • Lay gravel around the grave to keep weeds out

Grave design with plants
The groundcover are the classics of the grave plants, to choose from a wide range of varieties, with ivy and Erika are still very popular. For the modern grave design, there are also many, mostly unknown plants that give the grave a new kind of ambience. Many graveyards are designed as a kind of park, so the graves are often shaded under tree-lined avenues. Therefore, when buying new plants always pay attention to their demands on the location.Evergreen and late flowering plants decorate the grave even in winter with color accents, ideal is a mixture of early and late flowering. When the late flowering time is over, then in spring and summer the other plants on the grave begin to bloom again. In this way, the grave shines all year round in a great flower splendor. Seasonal and usually uncomplicated flowering plants provide a nice change and fresh color accents. In addition, in the grave planting plants with a symbolic character are very popular, which not only express the feelings of mourners, but also describe the traits of the dead. For larger graves, trees and shrubs can also be used for the grave design and pulled into the desired shape and cut:

  • With evergreen ground cover the grave looks great all year round
  • Half to full shade compatible ground cover: Dickmännchen, ivy, Fetthenne, Haselwurz, evergreen honeysuckle, Mühlenbeckie, Spindelstrauch, star moss, Ysander, dwarf medlar
  • Optimal for the winter: Red carpet, maximum 15 cm high, red flowers from October-May
  • Soil cover for sunny locations: lilac padding, barbel sprigs, low-growing roses, thyme, juniper, wool scorpion
  • Plants for damp soil conditions: Jacob’s ladder, pennywort, checkerboard, Siberian iris, marsh sword lily, daylily
  • Seasonal flowering plants: cyclamen, begonias, chrysanthemums, autumnal plants, petunia, snow heath, pansy, marigold, violets
  • Symbolic Plants: Memorial, Hanging Kitten Willow, Tree of Life ‘Thuja’, Lily, Cowslip, Bleeding Heart, Forget-me-not
  • Trees and bushes: blue-gray cypress, blue dwarf juniper, boxwood, fan maple, Japanese azalea, columnar yew and all evergreen berry bushes
  • A mix of unusual plant varieties gives the grave a modern feel

Tip: When placing the plants leave some gaps and decorate them with grave shells and grave lights. This loosens the overall picture and creates a harmonious impression.
Care & Maintenance

When planting it is essential to ensure that the selected varieties are reasonably tolerant of drought, so that longer breaks in the care and sunny locations are better tolerated. In addition, the grave soil is rather sandy in most cemeteries and tends to dryness. Flowers have to be watered sufficiently during dry weather conditions so that the flowers can last long, therefore flower tombs are particularly caring intensive. Those who have little time should count on evergreen and undemanding plants:

  • Densely growing ground cover and gravel prevent unsightly weed growth
  • Ivy sprouts fast and grows beyond all borders, thinking of timely pruning
  • With little time for care, colored bark mulch is an easy-care alternative to ground cover
  • Water flowering plants regularly and maintain
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • Carefully remove rotten flowers and other parts of plants
  • Remove dry leaves, this work is particularly noticeable in autumn
  • Create grave area storm-proof, must be able to withstand strong gusts of wind
  • Grave stone, grave shells and grave lights firmly anchored and theft-proof

Tip: In order to facilitate the care of the grave, stepping stones can be laid on the grave area, which allows easier access to all areas.
The modern grave design sets new accents, which are very different from the traditional design elements. Instead of uniform and symmetrical shapes, asymmetrical lines nowadays find their way into the burial ground. The grave stone no longer needs to stand at the end of the tomb and be perfectly carved, but may be placed in the middle and consist of a raw stone. The use of gravel for the design of the resting place reduces the care expenditure and suppresses in the long term the growth of weeds. In addition, pebbles in various colors, shapes and sizes can be used to create shapely structures. When planting, the focus is also on reducing the use of care, unpretentious and robust flowers, trees and shrubs are in demand. Evergreen and winter-proof plants make the tomb appear attractive year round and forgive a longer break in the care.

Video Board: How I Built My Rock Garden ~ Backyard Landscaping.

Share With Your Friends!

Gravesite Visitation Ideas

Ideas For Gravesite Visitations: Why, When and What To Do

What do you do when you visit the grave of someone special to you? Why do you visit a loved one’s burial plot in a cemetery? How often, or when should you visit a relative’s memorial, headstone, cremation niche or mausoleum?

Everybody treats a visit to the grave of a loved one differently. Everybody experiences different emotions, thoughts and feelings. Some family members even wonder why they should visit their relative’s gravesite. A visit to a cemetery or memorial park can be a time of healing, reflection, catharsis, sharing memories, saying prayers, saying goodbye, or simply a ritual of remembrance. It can be a sad time, a reflective time, a sorrowful time, a painful time, a loving time, even a joyous time. Whatever it is for you, make it a worthwhile time. Taking the time to visit the gravesite of a parent, spouse, family member or friend is a great opportunity to remind yourself or others that the memory of the deceased is still cherished. Visiting a cemetery is also an opportunity to relect on your life.

To see a video summarizing the content on this page, with some quick suggestions of how to make th most of your time during a cemetery visit, watch the video below:

What To Do When Visiting A Grave Site: Cemetery Visitation Ideas

Things To Do At The Gravesite

Here are some suggestions about what you can do when visiting a family gravesite.

  • Lay a bouquet of flowers on the headstone.
  • Place a picture of the deceased on the monument.
  • .
  • .
  • Plant a flag next to the headstone–especially on Memorial Day or Veterans Day.
  • Kneel and pray.
  • Put pebbles on the grave.
  • Decorate the tombstone with memorabilia or art.
  • Meditate and let healing happen.
  • Speak lovingly to the deceased.
  • .

If you came with family, there are many memories you can share together.

  • Remember the good times, the laughter, the love, the challenges you faced together.
  • Share meaningful quotes, recite from the Scriptures.
  • Have fun, joke around.
  • Plan for the future, reflect on the past.
  • Discuss each other’s state of health and reflect on your own mortality.

Did you bring a snack or a picnic lunch?

  • Sit at a nearby bench memorial and enjoy.
  • Take in the beauty of nature that surrounds you—the trees, the birdsongs, even the landscape of granite memorials in all their different shapes, sizes, and colors.
  • For information on .

Stroll Around The Cemetery Grounds

After reflecting on your loved one’s memorial, take a stroll around the cemetery grounds and see how other people are memorialized. You may come upon the graves of families you know! Personalized epitaphs, inscriptions, etchings and engravings make every memorial unique and special.

Clean The Monument

Before you leave, check on the condition of your loved one’s granite headstone. It takes thousands of years for a quality granite monument to show any signs of deterioration. However, it can quickly become soiled or stained, gather moss or mildew, collect animal droppings or leaves and twigs. Come prepared to the clean the monument and beautify the plot. Cemeteries cut the grass and trim the area around the gravestone and plot, but it is up to you to keep the monument looking beautiful. Whisk off the dirt, sticks, and grass. Bring some soap and water and a rag and clean the monument.

When To Visit

Visit the gravesite anytime you are compelled to do so. Of course there are the special times when people are more likely to go to a cemetery. These days are:

  • Memorial Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Your wedding anniversary
  • A birthday
  • The anniversary of the death
  • Veterans Day
  • Easter Sunday
  • Yom Kippur
  • Thanksgiving
  • Fourth of July
  • The day of a special event you shared together
  • Mothers Day
  • Fathers Day
  • Valentine’s Day

There are so many reasons to visit the gravesite of a loved one, so many things you can do while you are there, and so many ways to help you reconnect with one you’ve lost. Experience this special place, this heartfelt moment, and this very personal memorial each year, every year. This way, you will keep the wonderful memories of one you shared your life with…alive!

About Rome Monument

Rome Monument is one of the leaders in the cemetery monument and memorial industry.

Spring Gravesite Maintenance Tips and Ideas

Early Spring is the best time of the year to spruce up the grave sites of your loved ones. A little work this the year can keep a memorial site looking great for months to come. If you only have the time, or the ability to tend to a grave site once a year, Spring is definitely the time you should do it.

If you can’t tend to the graves on your own because you’re physically unable, or you live far away from the cemetery, there are grave tending service providers around the country who you can hire to do it for a small fee. They will even send you a picture of the grave once the work is complete so you can see how nice it looks. If you don’t know of a service in your area, consult our Grave Tending Service Provider Directory for options.

Before starting any maintenance or decorating, be sure to check with cemetery about their rules. Some have very restrictive rules that could end up wasting your time and money if you don’t abide by them.

Spring is obviously a great time to take care of any landscaping issue the site may have. Pick up any debris around the grave and even give the grass a good raking. If there are bare spots in the grass, now’s a great time to spread some seed to fill them in. Not only will this look better, but it will prevent weeds from filling in those spots. When it comes to grass seed, buy the kind that comes encased in its own fertilizer and growing material, such as Scott’s EZ Seed. That way you don’t have to worry about coming back every day to water. Make sure you spread the seed evenly around the site.

The next thing is to clean the headstone. The most effective, safest, and easiest way to clean a headstone is to use D/2 Biological Solution. Tested and used by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Park Service, D/2 is a biodegradable cleaner that is PH neutral and contains no salts, bleach or acids. It is highly effective for removing stains caused by mold, mildew, algae, lichens and air pollutants. The product works, won’t harm the stone, and best of all, makes future cleaning easier by preventing new build up.

Spring is also a great time to add some flower arrangements or other decorations to brighten up the site. This is an area you definitely need to know the rules and regulations for your cemetery. In the way of decorations, some people will place stuffed animal or balloons, especially on the grave of a child. Other great decoration ideas include banners and solar powered lights.

If you’re interested in flowers, we recommend going with artificial flowers. Not only will you save a lot of money as compared to fresh flowers, but they will stand up to harsh weather conditions and continue to look beautiful for months and even years to come. We have a great selection of artificial flower arrangements that are perfect for both Spring and the Easter seasons. To view our seasonal flower selections, click here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *