Graduation Occasions

What Are the Best Flowers to Include in a Graduation Lei?

Graduation Lei Flowers

Picture it: It’s finally graduation day. You put on the special outfit you picked out, grab your cap and gown, and head to your school for what is probably the last time. You meet up with your classmates, feeling an excited buzz. You walk to get your diploma or your degree – and then it’s all over. It hits you that all your hard work has finally paid off! The graduation ceremony ends and everyone throws their caps in the air in celebration.

What is usually waiting on the other end of the graduation ceremony? A proud family and excited friends with graduation leis in their hands, ready to drape over the proud graduate. Graduation leis have become a regular tradition during graduation season, and are a great way to show graduates that you are proud of them and excited to see what their future holds. But what is there to know about graduation lei flowers? We’ll walk you through it!


What Are the Best Flowers for a Lei?

You can make leis out of crepe paper, money, or candy treats if you want, but fresh flowers are the most beautiful option. What are some of the greatest graduation lei flowers? The short answer is, there’s really no wrong answer.

Traditionally in Hawaii, leis are made during a time of celebration. Family members get together and string leis, share stories and celebrate loved ones. The important part is putting the lei together with loved ones and celebrating!

However, this leaves lei-givers a lot of options. If you are a beginner lei maker, where do you start? For first-time lei makers, starting with a simple, one-flower strand lei is a wise choice.


Some of the best flowers for a lei are:


When you give someone a lei, you’re gifting someone with the Hawaiian aloha spirit – and no other flower quite screams Hawaii like the plumeria. Not only is the plumeria a quintessentially Hawaiian flower, but it’s also symbolic of new beginnings. Graduating from college or high school is the start of a new part of your life. Using a plumeria in your graduation leis is the perfect way to kick off summer the Hawaiian way and send the graduate in your life off to their next adventures.


In Hawaii, red carnations are common in leis because they symbolize respect, and white carnations are common because they symbolize luck – both great sentiments for graduation flowers to have!

Any color of carnation is great to choose if you are making a lot of leis because carnations are really affordable flowers to buy in bulk. The Latin word for carnation is Dianthus, which translates directly to “the flower of the gods.” Do you have lots of graduates that you want to feel like gods and goddesses on their special day? Carnations are an awesome choice.


Orchids come in many different colors and are durable and long-lasting. This makes orchids some of the best flowers for a lei. You can use a variety of colors, and the recipient of the graduation lei can cherish them for a long time to come.

Bonus: they don’t have a strong scent, so all of your allergy-prone friends will be safe in an orchid graduation lei.


The rose is a classic flower that’s perfect for almost any situation. Getting your hands on a couple dozen roses to make leis is an elegant yet simple and affordable option for your graduation lei. Plus, every rose color has a different meaning, so depending on the color combos you choose, you’re sending a specific message in one simple lei. For example, red roses symbolize love, pink roses symbolize grace and admiration, and orange roses symbolize enthusiasm and passion. Just think what you could do with a color combo with those three colors alone.


Of course, a graduation lei made (or bought!) from the heart is the best gift of all, no matter what flowers you choose. But if you’re stuck, look no further than our handcrafted Bouqs for inspiration!

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