Turning your loved one’s cremated ashes into a tree keeps them alive in nature forever. Planting a tree seed or seedling alongside a family member’s ashes and watching it grow can be one of the most rewarding and meaningful experiences in your life. But as romantic as the idea seems, is it even possible to grow a tree out of ashes?
The Science Behind Biodegradable Tree Urns
Cremated remains contain a surplus of calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, all needed to nourish plant life. But they do not contain crucial nutrients such as manganese, carbon, and zinc. This causes a nutritional imbalance that can severely inhibit plant growth.
The high salt content and pH level of cremains also makes them toxic to nearby plant life. Because soil on its own is not acidic enough to mitigate this toxic effect, any seeds planted near ashes will not grow.
To counteract the negative effects cremains have on plant life and ensure an environment where plant life can flourish, solutions to the nutritional imbalance, high pH level, and high salt amount are incorporated into the product design of biodegradable tree urns. The companies below sell urns made specially to grow trees out of cremated remains, having found ways to nullify ashes’ toxicity.
The Bios Urn
The Bios Urn is a sleek biodegradable capsule, and within it are two compartments separated by an “expansion disc” that mixes the ashes. The bottom compartment holds the ashes, and the top compartment securely holds the tree seed within a special soil mix that includes nutrient-rich vermiculite and coco-peat.
The Living Urn
Cylindrical in shape and made out of biodegradable bamboo, The Living Urn expects you to place soil, seed, and ashes in the same compartment. But it also comes with a patented ash neutralizing agent—a special soil that counteracts the toxic effects of ash. The Living Urn also comes with a seedling instead of a seed, ensuring a greater chance of survival for the tree.
The Eternitrees Urn
Much like the Living Urn, the Eternitrees Biodegradable Urn comes with a nutrient compound that mitigates the ashes’ negative effects. Kept in the upper chamber of the urn, this compound also helps the ashes release calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, resulting in a mixture that is beneficial for the seed.
Let Your Love Grow Mixture
Like the Eternitrees and Living Urn formulas, The Let Your Love Grow organic mixture neutralizes the high salt and pH levels found in ashes. Mixing this with your loved one’s ashes results in soil that nourishes plant life.
An Alternative to Ashes: Memorial Trees
With all of this in mind, you can see that it is unlikely that a seed planted within or even near human ashes will ever mature to see the sunlight—unless it is planted in an urn thoughtfully engineered to balance out the negative effects of the cremated remains on the plant.
If you are simply looking for a way to memorialize your loved one and don’t find it essential to mix portions of the ashes into the soil, you can also consider purchasing a memorial tree or grove. You can do this with companies like Trees for a Change.
When you buy a memorial tree as a gift to a loved one, Trees for a Change plants that tree in an area previously devastated by forest wildfires, so you’ll be making a real difference by helping nature regrow from ashes.
We hope this explanation of the science behind biodegradable tree urns has helped you pick an nature-friendly resting place for you or your loved one. For more educational articles, go here. For more information on biodegradable options, see our urn guide and our articles on green burials.