Treat Your Lilacs Well!

It is lilac season for many of us and I don’t know anyone who can resist bringing this intoxicating flower into their home and floral arrangements. You should know a few things about lilacs though to keep them from wilting and to get the longest vase life possible. Below: How to condition lilacs, how to arrange and style lilacs, and how to eat lilacs!

How to Condition Lilacs

- Put them into water immedietly upon harvesting.

-Slice up the stems in a cross shape. You can also smash the stems with a hammer but florists like to argue about this one. Some say that smashing is too agressive and will actually  damage the stems so that they cannot take up water. At any rate, it is important to do more than just cut the stem diagonally, you need to actually break it open so that the stems can take up water.

-Your lilacs will last longer if you remove more foliage than normal. This way the water can get to all of the blossoms. Usually one part of a lilac will wilt in every bunch, you can cut it short to put in a small vase to see if it revives but you should remove it from the larger stem to let the other flowers open.

-In some cases or if the lilacs start to wilt, it will be better to cut them shorter as they will take up water more easily.

-Lilacs are especially sensitive to heat and cold, bright sun, and ethylene gas emitted by fruits.

-Harvest your lilacs when the flowers are closed but just beginning to open.

-They like to be misted with water.

How to Arrange and Style Lilacs

-Lilacs are stunningly gorgeous on their own. Arrange tall stems at slightly different heights into your favorite thrifted ceramic vase at your entryway and smile every time you enter your home!

-Lilacs are perfect filler flowers! Add them with other flowers into bouquets and arrangements to fill space, add texture, and emit fragrance.

-Lilacs also look good cut low into pudding bowls, ceramic cups, or vintage glassware.

-Purple lilacs look sleek with a black vase or backdrop.

-White lilac charms next to other spring favorites like snowdrops, spirea, or violets.

-Filler on filler. For a rustic, casual look layer in purple lilacs with waxflower and heather or layer in white lilac with white spirea and white waxflower.

How to Eat a Lilac

Please only eat flowers that you know or organic and safe to eat. You can download our full guide here. We take no responsibility for sickness resulting from the ingestion of edible flowers. 

-Syringa vulgaris is the species most commonly known to be edible.

-Lilacs are one of the more pungent edible flowers. Use them sparingly.

-Lilac water. Infuse sparking or simple water with lilac blossoms overnight in the fridge for a refreshing floral drink.

-Make a lilac syrup to add to cocktails, lemonades, or cakes.

-Decorate cakes sparingly with lilacs (the fragrance can overwhelm)

-Lilac sugar. Lillac is one of the edible flowers that works well for floral infused sugars. 

For more on edible flowers, check out our full length class that does a deep dive into extracting floral flavors, safety, history, and identification of edible flowers.

Lilac Styling and Arranging Inspiration

Ok, I got a little homesick writing that post. Lilacs are one of those flowers that are linked with my childhood in the best way. Does this ring true for you? 

How to ID Cut Flowers

If you are completely new to plants and flowers, it can be overwhelming to learn how to identify flowers. You will need to have a good library of flower ID under your belt before you begin work at an event company, flower shop, or working with your own clients. It is also helpful if you just want to delve deeper into floral design as a hobby. Knowing flower ID will help you place orders with your flower shop, local flower market, or growers. If you’ve never spent a lot of time with flowers before, it is difficult to know where to start learning to recognize flower varieties.

Most florists learn flowers through familiarity, shopping, and working with floral ingredients everyday. We find our favorites, that work for our recipes. We find the color varieties that speak to our brands. The truth is though: WE DO NOT KNOW EVERY SINGLE FLOWER! Flower varieties will vary per your climate, your local offerings, and the seasons. We are all learning, all the time! Nobody knows every flower and every plant. We are constantly learning and researching.

That said, you must have a good library of flower ID under your belt if you want to work with flowers professionally or even as a hobby.  I often tell students, the best way to get started with floral design is to make one arrangement per week. In the sourcing of the flowers, working with the stems, and researching, any questions you have along the way, you will begin to become comfortable with identifying flowers. 

But here are a few more tips to get you started:

If you are not sure where to start with flower identification, I recommend searching through flower supplier catalogs to start learning the basics. Here are a few:


Fifty Flowers

Peterkort Roses

Most florists do not have a degree in botany, but it is a great thing to study and will help you identify plants, particularly if you have an interested in foraging. To get started on the basics of botany, learning leaf shapes, and flower petal arrangements I recommend these books:

Flora: Inside the Secret World of Plants

Botany for Gardeners

Botany in a Day

Plantnet app is a great app for giving you a start in Identifyíng a flower but you need to double check it with Google. 

Additionally you will find a lot of tools and resource for flower ID in my book, Field, Flower, Vase.

Be sure to follow over at our flower school Instagram as we post a new flower ID each week!


In our Floral Foundations course we introduce you to 50 cut flowers. Each flower has a guide that includes common and Latin names, best use in arrangements, conditioning methods, and botanical drawings and photographs to help you identify the flower. 

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