Plant & Flower Identification

Funeral Plant Identification: How to Tell Them Apart?

As their name suggests, funeral plants are a common presence in almost every funeral service and event, a token of sympathy and condolences sent to the unfortunate.

These plants are divided into numerous types based on key features and, as such, easily overwhelm beginners.

My funeral plant identification guidelines can hopefully lift your confusion by diving further into their tell-tale characteristics. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Funeral Plant Identification: The Most Common Funeral Plants and Their Features

funeral plant identification

Funeral plant types are vastly different in bloom colors, leaf shape, heights, and structures, making it easy for beginners to tell different funeral plants names apart.

Orchids, Lilies, Dutch Hyacinth, snake plants, etc., are some common names.

For instance, Calla lilies have their spathe shaped like a trumpet; snake plants are often spotted with light yellow/white horizontal variegation, and polka-dot begonias arrive with polka-dot patterns on the top leaf surfaces.

Orchids (or Orchidaceae)

Vibrant and fragrant, these plants often exhibit diverse color themes – pastel shades and vibrant hues being the most common.

Each bloom is symmetrically bilateral and offers waxy textures, while the simple yet thick leaf structures add further to their unique appearance.

Orchids are never lacking in sizes and shapes, from showy and large to intricate and petite.

But regardless of their measurements, all orchids have three petals and three sepals (one of such petals is called “labellum,” which is much more colorful than the rest).

Even beginners can recognize them with a single glance.

Orchids thrive both outdoors and indoors, depending on which type you bring home.

For instance, phalaenopsis orchids demand stable temperatures and moderate light, which explains why they have always been considered primary houseplants.

Meanwhile, cattleya orchids need well-drained soils and bright lights in subtropical climates, so outdoor gardens or semi-opened greenhouses best suit them.

Peace Lilies (or Spathiphyllum spp.)

Most people instantly recognize peace lilies thanks to their dark, lush green foliage and white flowers.

As a global symbol of purity and peace, no wonder these long-stem flowers are chosen as common funeral plants.

Their anatomy comprises two major parts: the spathe and the spadix.

  • Spadix: The short column (2-3 inches) covered in small clustered flowers
  • Spathe: A cream-colored, petal-like, large structure that encloses and surrounds the spadix, serving as a protection for the latter.

And while not necessarily dangerous, peace lilies store moderate calcium oxalate (a renowned respiratory inhibitor).

Hence, if your pets exhibit minor allergy reactions when passing by them, it’s easy to guess which funeral plant they are!

One can cultivate peace lilies both outdoors and indoors. For indoor containers, these lilies love indirect, bright light and well-drained potting soil.

On the other hand, moist, rich soils in partially- or fully-shaded areas will help them grow in better outdoor environments.

Giant, White Calla Lily (or Zantedeschia Aethiopica)

These herbaceous perennial lilies originate from South Africa; their horizontal, thick rhizome roots are what set them apart from other lily siblings.

Like peace lilies, white calla lilies also have spathe and spadix. However, several differences can be spotted:

  • The spathe covers the spadix completely this time, to the point that one cannot see the latter even at a close distance.
  • The calla spathe is large, white, and shaped like a long cone or trumpet. At the same time, its spadix serves as the central column littered with small, clustered flowers.

Though considered a natural outdoor plant, Calla Lily does well as an indoor flower, too – guaranteed you pay attention to its most basic growing conditions.

Whether used as landscape decoration plants, floral arrangements, or bouquets, they never lose an ounce of sophistication and elegance.

Dutch Hyacinth (or Hyacinthus Orientalis)

Also known as garden hyacinths, Dutch Hyacinths are perennial plants originating from bulbs and usually bloom around spring.

It is hard to mistake its enchanting fragrance for any other type of plant once you have experienced it first-hand.

But let’s talk about the distinctive physical features instead, since they are much easier to categorize and identify: 

  • The leaves are long and slender, usually arriving in clusters of 4-6 with one distinctive cylindrical flower bunch.
  • Each flower has six petals that form a gorgeous yet compact bloom.

Although they enjoy different color themes, blue and white remain the most common color associated with funerals. These colors symbolize remembrance, serenity, and purity.

Being one of the most versatile hyacinths on the planet, they can grow both indoors and outdoors. As an outdoor plant, Dutch Hyacinths are early spring bloomers. 

Meanwhile, for indoor growth, gardeners often chill their bulbs before plantations to force them into seasonal blooms.


Dieffenbachia belongs to the Tropical Herbaceous Perennial family (also nicknamed “Dumb Cane” due to the tongue’s swelling effects on chewed leaves.) 

They are also pretty toxic, so always keep Dieffenbachia away from your pets and children.

Regarding physical identities, Dieffenbachia is globally recognized for broad, large green leaves with striking off-white/white patterns along the veins, adding to its elegant appearance.

The flowers are not very different from calla lilies or peace lilies – also marked by an all-too-familiar spathe-and-spadix structure.

But unlike the other two, Dieffenbachia flowers only bloom once per year, mostly in late spring or early summer.

Experienced gardeners all concur that Dieffenbachias are the best when growing indoors. Still, they do love being outside in the summers, so choosing shade gardens as their home is quite a great idea.

Snake Plants (or Sansevieria Trifasciata)

common funeral plants

Those living in West Africa are no strangers to these succulent plants

NASA’s Clean Air Studies in 1989 have proven their powerful performance in removing pollutants and toxins (cases in point: trichloroethylene, xylene, formaldehyde, and benzene).

Snake plants are often associated with upright, long, and green leaves with light yellow/white horizontal variegation.

These streaks add quite some aesthetic interest to their leaf patterns and make snake plants a true standout from the rest of the garden.

Even better, a few snake plant species even come with yellow leaf borders. They look striking and beautiful – as if their edges are glowing under the morning sun.

Snake plants can grow both outdoors and indoors with zero maintenance. Still, thanks to their air-filter quality (proven by NASA), people like to use them as indoor plants to keep the house healthy and safe.

Majestic Palm/ Majesty Palm (or Ravenea Rivularis)

Majestic Palms are tropical plants native to the Madagascar region and were only introduced to other countries (ex: Floria in the U.S.) in the late 1990s.

Its popularity skyrocketed nonetheless, making it one of the most commonly raised plants for indoor environments.

Its height can reach as high as 90 feet in natural habitats, although the number is reduced to only 10 feet (one foot a year) in indoor containers for better, more manageable upkeep.

Majestic Palms also enjoy long fronds adorned with green, dark foliage that adds touches of lushness to your indoor space.

Despite working better as an indoor plant, Majestic Palms can tolerate outdoor containers in growing zones.

Move the plant back indoors once the temp creeps below 40 degrees (the maximum limit of its cold tolerance) and bring it outdoors again when the weather is at least 50 degrees.

Azalea (or Ericaceae)

Another funeral plant on my list is Azaleas – a stunning flowering bush of the Rhododendron family. They are known for abundant, vibrant blooms, especially in the early spring.

The flowers adorn the bush from head to toe, shining in a vast color array of white, purple, pink, and yellow, and even red to manifest the most striking display one has ever seen.

They are not exactly known for their unique fragrance, but the sheer amount of flowers more than compensates for that lacking scent.

And I should not skim over the leathery leaves, either, which is glossy dark green that serves as amazing backdrops to the flowers.

They stay on the plants all year round, even when there are no blooms at all.

Both outdoor and indoor options are fine for Azaleas, but it would be best to bring these beautiful plants inside during winter.

Once all the frost dangers have passed and spring is at the door, take them outside to partially-shaded areas to continue their growth.

Hydrangea (or Hydrangea Macrophylla)

Hydrangeas are versatile evergreen plants of the Hydrangeaceae families, native mostly to Asia and America. They are considered one of the best plant for a funeral or gift-giving occasion.

One common standout feature is their blooms, often seen around the corners in early falls or mid-summers.

They enjoy showy, large flower clusters that look like mop-heads or pom-poms, which manifest a visually captivating display.

Their color shades are usually white, purple, blue, and pink.

And aside from flowers, the sizable leaves are also worth mentioning, further contributing to the plant’s overall lushness.

Hydrangeas can survive both outdoors and indoors, though their lighting demands differ: outdoor hydrangeas can withstand light shades, but their indoor counterparts will need a lot of indirect light to thrive.

Rose Plants (or Rosaceae)

Rose plants are perennial flowers and hence, come in numerous forms: trailing varieties, climbing vines, and shrubs are just some of them.

They are recognized for fragrant and stunning bloom clusters (which partly explains why they are a solemn but heartfelt choice for funeral services).

Most rose plants have woody stems (covered in prickly thorns) to achieve the best body protection, aided by oval-shaped, feathery leaves that give the foliage a plummier appearance.

Better yet, numerous anatomy blooms of flowers can be churned out on just one plant, whose colors range from deep reds and vibrant yellow/purples to soft pinks and pristine whites.

Together, they create one of the most diverse and colorful visual feasts ever seen.

Rose plants need outdoor plantation to survive in the long term. Still, indoor containers are not half-bad for those just wanting a temporary indoor house plant.

Most rose plants only need two weeks (maximum) to bloom here.

Gardenias (or Gardenia Jasminoides)

Referred to as Gardenia Jasminoides in some regions, these exquisite flowering shrubs draw attention through their intoxicating fragrances and captivating beauty.

They are also valued for medicinal and ornamental uses, particularly in formal events like funerals.

Most Gardenias are white and elegant and look much more delicate than any other flowers and plants on my list; it is as if just one slight breeze could blow them to thin air in one second.

Their dark-green, glossy leaves offer the blossoms a stunning, lush backdrop, creating a quite nice visual contrast.

Since Gardenias are hardy in zone 8 to zone 11 only, growing them indoors seems like a more sensible choice than outdoors.

But you can still cultivate great results in the latter given proper maintenance and watering.

Polka Dot Begonia (or Begonia Maculata) 

The Begoniaceae families have more than 1300 flowering plant species, and Polka-Dot plant is one of them. Their upright, colorful, and bold leaves distinguish them from other Begonia siblings.

As their name suggests, the top leaf sides are covered with visible polka-dot white patterns (while the underside has red starburst dashes).

Each bloom arrives with numerous tiny white petals, clustered to protect the yellow, bright stamen within.

Begonias can be grown anywhere, given proper light levels. Navigate here to learn more about it.

Succulents (or Aizoaceae)

Succulents’ plump looks stem from the high water amount stored within their leaves, which makes them a perfect choice for arid weather.

Except for only Antarctica, you can find them on any continent on Earth.

These attractive plants are not known for their big size (only several inches).

And they are not a distinct sibling of cacti, either; unlike cacti, succulents are much hairier and waxier to reduce air circulations around themselves, a tactic to keep more moisture inside.

Needless to say, succulents’ survival skills are top-notch; you can put them anywhere, outdoor and indoor alike.

How to Care For The Best Plants For A Funeral?

Most of the time, the best funeral plants can easily survive outdoor environments, given brilliant sunlight and enough watering.

For those wanting to move them indoors, remember the following tips to take care of funeral plants:

  • Use a water-holding basket to prevent leaks
  • Use large pots to keep the roots from rotting
  • Keep the native plants far from drafts
  • Use water-soluble, diluted fertilizer on them every two weeks 

Are Flowers or Plants Better For A Funeral?

There is no definitive answer to this question; both practices are common and represent the same level of respect and sympathy cards.

Some people find flowers “too festive” for funerals, while others believe plants given for funerals are too plain. It all boils down to customs and preferences.

Are Funeral Plants And Sympathy Plants The Same?

potted funeral plant identification

Yes. Funeral plants used in funeral arrangements are also called “Sympathy plants.” There are no differences in their degrees or scopes of expression, and both terms can be used interchangeably.


Funeral plant identification can be overwhelming with so many plant varieties around, but I hope my detailed breakdown of their flower/leaf structure can help you navigate.

If you still have questions on how to identify funeral plants, write to my team.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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