Enjoy them now, southern Connecticut gardeners, as the intoxicating scent of the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, will soon be gone.
Lilac-colored lilac heads will last the longest in a vase when picked with open flowers near the lower portion and still unopened flowers near the top. As with all flowers, pick early in the morning or late in the evening when blossoms are less stressed by strong sunshine. Cut the woody stems of lilacs – with a sharp knife, not crushing scissors – on an angle to maximize water uptake, and remove all green stems with leaves, then place lilacs in lukewarm water in a vase sturdy enough to support their weight. Make sure fresh cut stem ends go immediately into water, leaving them exposed to air will cause them to dry, thus sealing off water uptake. Removing the leafy branches allows lilac flowers to remain hydrated for longer periods. You can use the leafy branches, however, as bouquet accents. Just be sure to cut the branch ends, at an angle, and remove all leaves that will fall below the water line.
I adore white lilacs easily as much as their lavender cousins, but I have never known white lilacs to last more than a few hours in an indoor bouquet (if you have a white lilac hint on making them last when cut, please share), so I planted my small white lilac bush were I can enjoy its beauty and scent while exiting and entering our house.
I like to cut hosta leaves to arrange with lilac flowers – as shown in my favorite photographer’s photo below. I cut and arranged this bouquet 4 days ago – it still looks fresh.
But my favorite photographer found additional artistry in the vase and stems, and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the beauty captured here …