Lilacs have always been a part of MY life for as long as I can remember.
In both of my childhood homes we had a hedgerow of lilacs. When I was little I would make forts under the branches and it would become my magical woodland home.
I shared recently on Instagram how God blessed me, abundantly, with our current property. I was only looking for a piece of property with one established lilac bush but God saw fit to give me an entire 100+ foot fence line of mature bushes.
Every May I await anxiously for them to get leaves, then buds, AND finally the wait for blooms is over.
Lilac season has begun!
If you know anything about lilacs, it is that their season is a short one… just a two or three weeks and their fleeting beauty and aroma is gone until the next year.
Their vase life can be even shorter… just a day or two after being picked. But there are ways to make your blooms last longer- up to a week or slightly more.
Cut your branches with a clean (bleached) pair of snips.
Cut early morning or late evening.
Choose branches with blooms that are at least 3/4 open as the flowers do not open much after cutting. However, the more blossoms that are open, the shorter the vase life will be.
Cut branches as long as possible. (This will help next seasons blooms have longer and straighter stems.)
Make the initial cut sharply diagonal and as long as possible.
Immediately dip your cut into FloraLife’s Quick Dip 100 - an instant hydrating treatment that will help the branch take up more water. (Available on Amazon.)
Place in a bucket of fresh, cool water with FloraLife’s Crystal Clear Flower Food in it. (Again on Amazon.)
Move harvested blooms to a cool area and remove most of the leaves. This helps the branch keep the blooms hydrated as it doesn’t have to worry about hydrating the leaves as well. (If you want leaves in your arrangements, cut those branches - with out blooms- separately , and condition in a separate bucket.)
Using your clippers, recut the stems diagonally and make a vertical slice up the stem of about 2 or 3 inches. Twist one side of the cut backwards and put in a new bucket of clean, cool water (with flower food)
Leave lilacs in a cool dark place to rehydate before arranging. If I pick in the evening I will let them sit overnight, but a couple of hours will do.
I have read, and tried this technique last year, that if you smash the ends of the branches this will help the stem take up more water. I found this to actually shorten the life of the flowers as it encourages bacterial growth to clog the branch and actually inhibit water uptake.
You can choose to have any size bouquet. I used to make small little ones and leave them on my grandmother’s porches wrapped in wet paper towel and aluminum foil. (Ahhh… small town life.) But don’t be afraid to try a large container overflowing with blooms and branches. Don’t be too concerned about placing branches precisely. Just let the bend of the branches speak for themselves.
Once you have your flowers arranged, make sure to change the water daily and add more flower food. Lilacs are too beautiful to have around for only a short time.
Growing and Caring for Lilac Bushes
If you have your own bush(es) or are thinking of planting some there are a few key things to know so that you will get the best blooms possible.
Plant new bushes in the fall and layer generously with mulch. It will take a new plant a few years to flower so you will have to be patient.
Mature bushes will send up suckers. Simply dig these up in the fall and plant where you want them and they will mature into new, hardy bushes.
Add a layer of compost and mulch each year but do not over-fertilize or your bushes will not bloom.
Prune any lilac bushes shortly after their blooming season is over. (Within a couple of weeks.) This not only helps the bush keep an attractive shape but encourages more flowering the following year.
Lilacs set the next years bloom during the summer. If you wait too long to prune then you are essential cutting off next years flowers. It’s better not to prune if you missed the window of opportunity.
For mature bushes, prune the oldest cane down and remove dead wood. Remove small suckers. Cut back weak branches and cut tall canes to a lower height.
Lilacs are hardy. If you have old bushes tackle the pruning process in thirds: Oldest canes cut to the ground the first year, half the remaining wood in year two and the rest in year three. You can also chop everything down to 1/2 a foot high at once. Drastic yes, but in a few years they will grow back, healthier than ever.
If you prune a bit yearly, this will eliminate the need for drastic pruning and you need never be without blooms.
Now… go out there and bring those fragrant beauties inside! If you liked this post and found it useful please share it! Also, to get more great tips and tricks for creating beauty and health for your body and soul, please sign up to be a part of the Fox & Glove family, in the footer at the bottom of the page!
Until next time…
Keep blooming and growing!