How to Harvest Lilacs
Lilacs create a perfect image of spring. They were used in colonial decorating to help freshen the home after a long winter, especially with their easily recognizable scent! I tend to say my favorite flower is a zinnia, but I am beginning to become the type of person whose favorite flower is whatever is blooming at the time of being asked. Lilacs are my everything right now, and the peonies will soon be next.
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, cut lilacs make a beautiful gift or addition to your brunch table during your family celebration. I am excited to be bringing bunches of lilacs to the farmer’s market over these next couple of weeks before the fleeting season is over. Kyle and I put together a little video on how we harvest lilacs to share with you. I hope you like it! Videos are new for us here on Under A Tin Roof, but we hope to share more. Definitely feel free to subscribe to our channel!
The best time to cut lilacs is in the early morning or evening, before the sun has taken a lot of their water from them. They tend to wilt easily, so a sunny afternoon of cutting is not ideal. I have found that if I cut on a cloudy day, they do better in the afternoon.
Find stems that have flowers with at least one third of the flowers opened. If they flowers are all still closed, they may not open after being cut. If all of the flowers are opened, they will not last as long in the vase. Cut to your desired length. It’s always a good idea to cut a little longer than you want them so you can cut the ends again to refresh the stems.
Most lilacs branch out from one main stem and can have multiple blooms on it. I tend to keep them connected to the larger main stem, as the smaller one year growths are often not long enough for a vase. If there are any dead ended branches, snip them off. Remove any leaves on the branch as the water taken in from the stem will go to the leaves. If you would like to leave some foliage on the stem, leave only those that will be kept above water.
After the leaves and excess branches are removed, you’ll want to cut the very bottom of the stem in half or quarters. This can be kind of confusing, as most other websites say “cut an X at the bottom,” but what does that mean? You just want to make a 1-2 inch cut at the bottom and kind of rip the ends a bit up the stalk. Because lilac branches are so thick, they don’t take in water from a vase very well. Giving them a larger cut at the bottom allows them to intake water quickly and, therefore, not wilt. This is the most important step!
The day after cutting, make another cut to the stem higher up and cut the bottom in half again. If you do this everyday, or every other day, your lilacs will last for 5-10 days in the vase.
Immediately after cutting and stripping the leaves, put the lilacs into water. I honestly don’t pay much attention to water temperature for our flowers, but some people do. I just use water from the pump! If you want to add a flower food to the water, you can. It does help, but you can also just add some granulated sugar that works just as well.
Take advantage of the time now to begin cutting your lilacs as they will soon be gone! If you would like more detailed action of how to harvest this gorgeous spring flower, be sure to watch the video at the top of this post. Do you love lilacs as much as I do? I hope to make some lilac solid perfume to share here on the blog in the next few days!