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Our Best Tips For Harvesting Lilacs

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Prevent notoriously finicky lilac flowers from wilting prematurely by following these expert harvesting tips.

Lilacs are a beloved Springtime favourite of many flower lovers, but their bloom window is so short!

If you're a fellow lilac lover who likes to display these fragrant stems in your home, here are some tips to catch them in season, and help them last a little bit longer:

Prime time to harvest is when about 1/2 of the tiny florets are open on the stem (see photo below for reference). The remainder will open in the vase.

Bring a bucket of water with you to harvest— the flowers will wilt very quickly without water and not recover!

Strip off most of the foliage and remove any small, spindly stems.

Use clean, sharp pruners to cut the stem end on an angle and split the bottom of the stem vertically at least an inch. Gently pull the stem apart to help the woody end draw up more water.

Side note: I've seen some poor advice circulating that says to smash the stem ends with a hammer— all this does is damage the xylem (cells that take water up to the flowers) and cause accelerated wilting.

Get those stems in deep, cool water ASAP! Change the water everyday and take care to thoroughly wash the vase if you notice any scum or buildup.

Display out of direct sunlight and away from fresh fruit for the best vase life, of about 5 days.

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