Expert Advice from Derek: Getting the Most Out of Cut Lilacs

Expert Advice from Derek: Getting the Most Out of Cut Lilacs

With Spring in the air and summer around the corner, one of the most familiar scents is the Lilac. These beautiful bushes grow all over the country and when the days start to get longer and warmer, the scent of their blossoms is so prominent, you often can smell them before you can see them! Naturally, based on the variety of colors they come in, as well as their aromatic fragrance, these are very popular cut flowers in the spring. Because cut lilacs are not known for their longevity in a vase, the following are some expert tricks for getting the most out of your lilac arrangements.

Uncut Lilacs

Knowing When to Harvest

There are many different varieties of lilacs. They come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and also bloom times. The benefit of having this variety is that generally, there are blooms to harvest over the course of the entire spring season. For trimming, use a nice, sharp pair of bi-pass pruners, available at most hardware stores or garden centers. The best time to cut lilacs is when most of the buds of the flowers are open. Make sure the stem length is about a foot or so from the flower, and also contains some of the beautiful lilac foliage.

Picture of lilacs vase and cutting shears

Prepping and Arranging

Once cut, lilacs enjoy clean, fresh, cold water. Adding flower nutrient isn't necessary, as it doesn't help prolong the life of the cut lilac. Crushing the ends of the stems with a hammer also does not help these lovelies last longer; it actually damages the xylem (the cells that take water up the stems to the flowers) and will shorten the vase-life of the flowers. What does help the lilac last longer as a cut flower is leaving the foliage on the stem. Although the foliage can sometimes seem a bit "bushy," the more leaves that are left on the stem, the longer cut lilacs will last. The leaves actually pull water up into the stems, and keep the cut flower hydrated. When you're ready to cut the lilacs, arrange them immediately in the container, being sure to have your vase ready and full of water.

Finishing Touches

If you have access to a floral finishing spray, available at your local florist, give your arrangement a spritz, making sure everything is evenly coated. Finishing sprays reduce the amount of transpiration that happens in flowers once they are cut. This helps them retain moisture in their flowers and foliage, and ultimately makes them last longer.

Lilacs in a vase next on a patio

Be sure to change the water daily and rinse the stems. There's no need to re-cut the woody stems of the Lilac when you change the water. If you can get a few days out of these beautifully fragrant flowers, you have done it right! Following these simple steps will help you get the longest vase-life of lilacs possible. Get trimming, and enjoy!


Owner, Floral Underground



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