November 5, 2023

Planting Trees From Ashes: Everything You Should Know

Losing a loved one is never easy. But paying tribute to those who have passed can provide comfort and closure to those left behind. There are various ways to honor the dead, but one of the newest concepts is making a “living memorial.”

A living memorial involves planting a sapling, using cremated remains to nourish it, and watching it develop into a tree. Seeing something beautiful grow from your loved one’s ashes can bring immense peace and healing. If you’re considering this memorial method, here are some useful things to know.

The Process

Human cremains are highly alkaline, meaning their pH value is more than 7. Scattering several pounds of ashes will drastically change the soil’s pH, which might shock and hurt the sapling. Instead of surrounding the plant with concentrated ashes, you must mix the cremains with other materials.

The usual method is to combine ashes with soil and other organic matter. It’s better to choose materials with low pH levels and microbial bacteria. That will help reduce the cremains’ pH level and give the sapling a higher chance of flourishing. You don’t have to be as delicate with established trees with complex root systems.

The mixture you’ve created will serve as a source of nutrients for the sapling. Every person has unique cremains, but ashes usually contain calcium, carbon, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. The plant’s roots will absorb these elements and use them for growth.

Funeral homes usually put cremains inside a plastic bag within an urn. But because plastic doesn’t decompose, you should transfer the ashes to a biodegradable urn. That way, the nutrients will be readily available to the sapling. You can also scatter the cremains around the plant if you prefer.

As for what kind of tree to grow, you can choose one that symbolizes your loved one. For example, you can plant an oak tree to represent their strength and wisdom. You can hold a memorial service before placing the sapling in the ground to make the moment even more special.

Here’s how to plant the sapling along with your loved one’s ashes:

  1. Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the sapling’s root structure.
  2. Dig deeper so you can fit the urn.
  3. Place the urn inside the hole, top it off with nutrient supplements, and add a thin layer of soil.
  4. Position the sapling’s roots above the urn, fill the hole with soil, and tamp everything down.
  5. Add mulch to the base of the sapling to prevent weeds and keep the roots moist.

The Benefits

Contrary to death, trees symbolize life, hope, and growth. Planting one as a living memorial for a loved one can be a source of solace amid the grief. Having something physical to see and touch can help ease the pain of missing someone who has passed. And because trees can live for hundreds and even thousands of years, they can be something you pass down in the family as an heirloom.

Growing a tree from ashes also has environmental benefits. They reduce the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, which are responsible for trapping heat and making the Earth hotter. Additionally, trees release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, helping counter the effects of climate change. Also, trees provide shelter for various wildlife, including small mammals, birds, and insects.

Give Your Loved Ones the Memorial They Deserve

Growing a tree from your loved one’s cremains is a beautiful way to commemorate their life. Not only that, but the practice positively impacts the environment. It’s a unique option that you and your family can consider. For more information, contact Wyuka Cemetery at (402)-474-3600.


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