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A guide to memorial trees and plants for remembrance

Last reviewed 9th January 2024

6 min read

Planting a memorial tree or a plant of remembrance is a meaningful way to honour a loved one after their passing. To dedicate a tree or plant in their name keeps their memory alive, and seeing it grow over the years can bring comfort for years to come.

In this guide, we explain what memorial trees and plants are, as well as what you may need to consider when deciding how to honour your loved one.

What is a memorial tree?

Trees of remembrance are tributes to a deceased loved one. They are a lasting symbol of their life and the impact they had on the world.

Memorial trees are often planted and personalised as a tribute to a person’s memory. This can give friends and family a special place to feel close to them for years to come.

How to choose a memorial tree for a loved one

Here’s a simple guide to choosing the right memorial tree for a loved one – from which type of tree you’d like, to the most suitable place to plant it...

Choosing your type of memorial tree

Trees of remembrance are reminders of a lost loved one, so it can help to choose a tree that you feel matches their personality.

These are some of the most common memorial tree options and what they symbolise:

Planting a memorial tree in your own garden

Memorial tree planting has many options – the simplest of which is planting a tree in your own garden.

Planting a tree in your garden means you don’t need to seek permission from anyone. But there are a few things to consider to make sure your memorial tree is properly cared for.

Firstly, it’s important to research trees that suit your garden’s soil, the most suitable planting spots, and how much sunlight they’ll need. Or even better, ask an expert for advice.

Secondly, think about how big the tree will grow. Will there be enough space for it in the years to come? And could it pose a hazard once it grows past a certain size?

Finally, if you think a smaller tree would be better, you can plant one in a large pot. This also means it can be easily transported if you move or want to put it in a different spot.

Planting a memorial tree on private land

Planting a memorial tree on someone else’s private property can be another option.

For example, people often like to plant a tree in a place that meant something to their loved one, such as a local park, garden, school – or any special location that has the right soil for your tree.

To plant a memorial tree in a private location, you need to have the landowners permission( opens in a new tab) and make sure you’re not breaking any of the landowner’s rules.

It’s important to remember that if you do plant a memorial tree on private property, there’s no guarantee that future owners will keep the tree, or allow you to visit it.

Using an organisation to plant a tree of remembrance

You can ask an organisation to plant a memorial tree or section of woodland in your loved one’s memory. Lots of charities in the UK plant trees to help grow woodlands and forests, as well as support the environment and local wildlife. For example:

Dedicate a tree in memory

Dedicating a tree as a gift means choosing an existing tree as a tribute to your loved one, instead of planting a new one.

There are lots of organisations out there who let you dedicate a tree to a loved one, such as The Woodland Trust(website opens in a new tab).

Scattering ashes around the tree or adding a plaque

When a loved one has been cremated, people often scatter their ashes around trees of remembrance. It can be a personal way to celebrate their memory at a meaningful location.

There are rules( opens in a new tab) about scattering ashes you must abide by, though – particularly if you’re scattering on private property. For example, scattering ashes can affect the soil’s pH levels, which could damage a new memorial tree’s growth. (This is less of an issue if you’ve dedicated a pre-existing healthy tree.)

And if there’s wildlife living near your tree, you may not be allowed to scatter ashes at all, as it can interfere with the local ecosystem.

Finally, if your loved one wasn’t cremated, installing a plaque at the base of their memorial tree can be another touching way to remember them.

What is a memorial plant?

A memorial plant is a heart-warming way to commemorate a loved one. Usually this is a bush, flower or herb planted in a meaningful place in your garden.

By choosing a plant with a unique connection to your loved one, you’ll have a wonderful tribute to remember them by – as well as a special place for healing and contemplation.

What plants to choose in memory of a loved one

Choosing a memorial plant is a personal choice. Usually, people choose a plant that had a personal meaning to their loved one.

This could be their favourite flower, a plant in the shade of their favourite colour, or even a flower that carries a certain meaning. Some common remembrance plants include:

Placing the memorial plant

Where to place a memorial plant has many of the same considerations as where to place a memorial tree, such as suitable soil and sunlight.

People often choose to put their memorial plant in a spot that had a special meaning for their loved one, such as their favourite place to sit in the garden.

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A memorial tree or plant can be a unique way to honour a loved one. By considering all the different options available, as well as the rules you need to follow, you can ensure that you memorialise your loved one in a fitting, meaningful way.

If you found this guide interesting, you might also be interested in some of our other articles:

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.