A guide to memorial trees and plants for remembrance
Last updated 17th February 2023
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:
- Oak(opens in a new tab) – strength and knowledge
- Rowan(opens in a new tab) – protection and courage (it's also known as the tree of life)
- Hazel(opens in a new tab) – wisdom and inspiration
- Silver Birch(opens in a new tab) – new beginnings, regeneration and hope
- Dogwood(opens in a new tab) – kindness, stability and determination
- Fig tree(opens in a new tab) – wisdom and success
- Cherry tree(opens in a new tab) – good fortune and happiness
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:
- The Woodland Trust(opens in a new tab) – A conservation charity that gives you a certificate, map and woodland information sheet when you plant a memorial tree. You can also add a plaque for an extra fee.
- The Earth Trust(opens in a new tab) – With planting locations in Little Wittenham Wood, this charity allows you and your family to come and personally plant the tree.
- The National Forest(opens in a new tab) – An environmental project aiming to expand UK woodlands, where you can either pay to have a tree planted or plant it yourself at a special event. You can also dedicate a grove to your loved one.
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(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:
- Rosemary(opens in a new tab) – a traditional plant for remembrance, a grey-green colour
- Roses(opens in a new tab) – different meaning depending on the colour (red for love, yellow for friendship)
- Forget-me-nots(opens in a new tab) – aptly named as a tribute for your loved one, a bright blue flower
- Poppies(opens in a new tab) – come in many colours but red poppies are associated with eternal sleep, hope and remembrance
- Lilies(opens in a new tab) or daisies(opens in a new tab) – representing innocence, appropriate for remembering a younger loved one
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.
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.
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