With a few clever tricks, you can keep cut lilacs from wilting so you can enjoy them in your home for longer! Well, for as long as the season lasts at least! 🙂
Lilac season is here in our little corner of the world and, needless to say, it’s the best. We have a huge old-fashioned lilac growing next to the house and I think my favourite part of lilac season is how the air smells so sweet at this time of year. The lilacs seem to scent our whole property and it just makes everything a little better. Of course, I love to cut a few lilac branches and bring them inside too, but they never seem to last as long as I’d like them to once they’re cut. You really only have a day or so before they start to wilt and that just won’t do. Luckily, there are a few tricks that can be employed to extend their life. I decided to test them out and was pretty impressed with the results! So here’s how to keep cut lilacs from wilting.
These first few flower best-practices really apply to all flowers that wilt or start to break down easily when they’re cut.
When it comes to cut flowers, typically the longer the stem, the longer the flower will live. Especially with lilacs, when you cut them very short, they don’t survive more than a few hours before they start to wilt. Always cut your flowers on a 45 degree angle to allow the stems to absorb more water and remove any lower leaves that will be below the surface of the water when you put the stems into your vase.
The Magic Ingredient for Keeping Lilacs from Wilting
I heard about this little trick using alum (the same stuff that you keep in your spice cupboard), and I didn’t really understand how it would work so I did a little research. Some flowers, like lilacs are very quick to heal after they’ve been cut. They’ll secrete something that will cover over the cut area of the branch which will protect the plant, but which also prevents the cut stems from sucking up any water. Adding the alum into the mix allows the stems to continue to drink the water and stay healthy and fluffy for much longer.
Here’s what you do: Immediately after cutting your stems on a 45 degree angle, stick the cut part of the stem into a little dish of alum. If you’re finding that you can’t get much alum to stick, just dip the stem quickly in the water in your vase before applying to alum to it.
Then place your stems right into a vase of fresh, cool water like your normally would. Try to change the water each day and re-apply the alum before you drop the stems back into the vase. Bonus points if you can re-cut just a little bit off the bottoms of each stem before you do this.
Does it Work?
I was so impressed by this. The lilacs that I cut and just put straight into water only last about a day (or maybe two) before they started wilting. After two days they were completely done and needed to be thrown out. The ones that I’ve been giving the alum treatment lasted twice as long! I mean, I really wish they would last two weeks the way some flowers can, but I’ll take every extra day of lilac loveliness that I can get. 🙂
And they make our still-unfinished living room look instantly much more presentable, don’t you think?
Do you use alum on your cut lilacs?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.