Long-Lasting Lilacs

hens with lilacs in basket

For me, the decent from spring into summer is marked by the return of lilacs.  They’re pretty hard not to love; Those warm purple tones with their intoxicating scent, and the romantic way they laze on the branch… I’m pretty sure they’re just begging to be cut, but they can be challenging to keep looking their best after bringing them in.

My love affair with these fleeting blooms has led me here, to this blog post where I’m going to tell you all the little things I’ve learned over the years to get seven days out of my cut lilacs with no wilting.

This has been a true passion project of mine, I cannot imagine a spring without a big bouquet of lilacs on my table and I’m happy to share these tips with you in hopes that you’ll bring in a little bit of this glorious season too.

  1. When cutting lilacs (or any flower) always do so during the coolest part of the day: Morning or evening.  This is when the flowers are the most hydrated.  Bring a clean bucket with you so that you can immediately plunge the branches into cool fresh water.
  2. Be strategic about cutting. Okay, this has nothing to do with longer vase life, but it will aid in the health of your plant as lilacs benefit from a little pruning.  Look for branches that are crossing or close together and choose those to remove from the plant.
  3. Harvest when about two-thirds of the florets have yet to open.  If florets are all open this greatly reduces vase life.IMG_4764
  4. Remove at least 80% of the foliage from each branch.  This one is important.  Flowers will wilt quickly if the leaves are left as they require moisture too.  When the stem is stripped of foliage this allows the flowers to fully hydrate.

    Lilacs before and after being pruned 

  5. Cut stems on a 90° angle and vertically cut an ‘X’ up the bottom of the cut branch.  This maximizes surface area for hydration.
  6. Let flowers rest.  Before arranging allow flowers to sit in a cool room out of direct sunlight for 2-3 hours.  This again, allows for hydration.IMG_2104-2

This week we’ll be tucking lots of fresh lilacs (with peonies!) into our bouquets, and everyone always wants to know how we get them to last so long.

Happy Lilac Season!! Yay!