Monday, June 2, 2014

How to Keep Cut Lilacs from Wilting

One year, thrilled at the deep purple of the lilac that grows in my front yard, I picked scads of lilacs. I filled vases and vases with them and had more to give away. They were gorgeous. For about a day. And then, they wilted so fast that I couldn't keep up with the dropping buds, and they were more trouble than they were worth - and they weren't worth much because they were all shrivelled.

I've been much more reserved about my lilac picking ever since. A couple days ago, I clipped about five stems to keep in a vase next to my bed. By the next morning, one of the five was already wilted and on it's way out. Frustrated, I turned to the Internet and asked how to keep them from dying so quickly. I came to a very long article about lilacs, which I ended up skimming. Nonetheless, I uncovered a couple gems of information I could use. The article recommended roughing up the ends of the cut lilac so it could absorb more water. It also recommended not using tap water since the flowers don't like fluoride. These tips, I could handle. The ones about what kind of plant food to use... well, if you're that into it, you can find them here.

I went outside, optimistic, and picked a huge vase full. There are probably eight stems, many with multiple cones of blooms on them. The resulting bouquet is probably three times the size of the one where I had wilting within 24 hours. I used my clippers to score the bottoms of the stems, sometimes actually clipping vertically into the bottom of the branch so that the end was broken into quarters that were still attached to the wood leading up to the lilac bloom. I questioned the necessity of it, but I filled the huge vase with filtered water. I plopped in the lilacs with the clipper-chewed stems, and here we are, over twenty-four hours later, and none of them have wilted. I'm so optimistic that I'm blogging it and I went out for a new bedside bouquet (the huge one is in the living room).

What are your favorite cut flowers?

Your Sister

Update on this: Some of the flowers started to shrivel by about 48 hours in, but this was more of a shrivel than a wilt and it wasn't a significant portion of the branches, so they still look okay overall. It's day three, and I'm considering removing the shriveled blooms because I hear they can bring down the rest of the bouquet, but they still look nice. This is a vast improvement!

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