Fresh Cut Lilac Bouquet Tutorial

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The idea of spring in my mind is almost synonymous with the smell of blooming lilacs. I’m so glad to live in a place where lilacs grow well and can be expected each year!

Lilacs are actually one of the reasons we ended up in our beautiful 1906 farmhouse to begin with!

It was April 12th and we were visiting our friend, and happened to look over the fence to see this beautiful house sitting in the midst of a green lush yard – with lilac bushes as tall as the house!

Farmhouse White Lilacs by
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It was one of the selling points as we bought the home 2 days later!

So as if I didn’t already have enough of a reason to love lilacs – helping us decide on this wonderful farmhouse journey certainly doesn’t hurt!

I’ve always found myself drawn to old european style flowers like peonies, cabbage roses, hydrangea and lilacs, and appreciate that lilacs are the first to bloom, usually around April or May here in the Pacific Northwest.

Their fragrance is simply intoxicating – but unfortunately, without a few tricks, they do not last well as a cut flower!

(Don’t worry – I’ll be sharing those tricks with you below!)

Hydrangeas are equally beautiful, and equally finicky as cut flowers.

I learned A LOT about them 10 years ago when my sister got married.

I was in charge of her flowers and had to find a way to create beautiful bouquets and make them last and hold up well over the course of the few days travelling and preparing for the ceremony!

Hydrangea Tips by

I’m happy to share that most of what works well to keep hydrangeas from wilting, also works well for lilacs!

Lilac Care 101 by

*This post contains affiliate links to products I know &/or love.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Before I start on my list of tips for keeping lilacs looking fresh, I wanted to share a few fun Mother’s Day gift ideas.

The timing of the lilac blossoms works out perfectly (at least here in my part of the country) for a lovely lilac bouquet as a mother’s day present.

And here are a few other fun ideas to pair with it:

| Lilac lotion from World Market – one of my favorite lotion scents!

Lilac Lotion World Market by
Lilac Lotion by

| Homemade Lilac Milk Bath – this recipe is from my friend, Julie Blanner!

Bath Milk Recipe by

| 3 ingredient Lilac Sugar Scrub – another homemade recipe from Julie!

Mother's Day Gift by

| If your mom is a gardener, she may also love these DIY French Tuteurs! You can either make them for her (for about $25 in materials and about 90 minutes in labor), or you can assembler them together if she’s a fellow DIY’er OR if quality time is something she appreciates!

Find the building plans HERE.

French Tuteurs by

| Simple DIY Garden Decorations – There a few more cute ideas in this post for a Mom who enjoys her outdoors spaces.

| Simple Clay Plant Labels – Great for a garden loving Mom, or a mom who loves words! This would also be a fun one to have children help with – maybe for Grandma?

| Mother’s Farmhouse Style Gifts – a neat curated list of farmhouse style gifts for Mom.

Identifying Lilacs

In addition to their fabulous smell, lilacs also are pretty easy to identify by their leaves and blooms.

The leaves are a deep green, and heart-shaped!

The blossoms are relatively cone shaped with different varieties having white flowers, light lavender, and deep lavender – almost into a magenta.

Though they’re called “lilac bushes”, they have a woody stem and are in the olive tree family.

They’re also very prolific, and mature trees will send up runners/baby trees from the roots!

Fresh Cut Lilac Bouquet Tutorial by

Lilac Bouquet Tutorial and Tips:

Number One | Cut flowers in the cool of the day! That can mean either morning, or night, or just a cool spring day. Just take care to avoid cutting them in hot or sunny weather.

Number Two | Lilacs won’t change or continue to blossom once cut (unlike flowers like roses and tulips). So make sure that you cut the blossoms that already look how you want them to look.

Simple Lilac Bouquet by

Number Three | Take care of the leaves! If you put a stem in water with both leaves and blossoms, the water will end up going to the leaves, leaving you with wilty blossoms.

To avoid this, I reccomend stripping all the leaves off of the stems with the blossoms you’re using for your bouquet.

If you’d still like the look of the leaves, you can stick leaf-only stems into the vase with your arrangement.

Number Four | Always cut more than you think you’re going to need so you end up with enough! I usually do about twice more than I originally think I’ll need. It’s nice to have extra to add fullness, or to fix a mistake or broken branch.

Make a Beautiful Lilac Bouquet by

Number Five | Put your cut lilacs straight into water after cutting. I know how tempting it is to lay them neatly in a basket, but they need to be hydrated as soon as they’re cut.

Number Six | Let your lilacs rest in the water (in the fridge if you have room) for 2-3 hours.

Make sure not to store them with produce since the ethylene gas let off by apples and potatoes can cause them to wilt more quickly!

DIY Fresh Lilac Arrangement by

Number Seven | You can help the stems ability to draw up water in two ways:

  • Use sharp scissors or pruners to cut the bottom few inches of the stem length wise up the shaft of the stem.
  • Use a hammer to crush the end of the stem (be careful to do this on a protected surface!)

Number Eight | Return your stems to water for 2-3 hours.

Then you’re ready to arrange your lilac bouquet!

If you’d like some help with how to arrange the bouquet itself, I have a whole post called a Beginner’s Guide for Flower Arrangements.

Related Posts and Information:

I also have a post about Landscaping for the Seasonal Decorator! How fun to have a yard that is beautiful in all 4 seasons, but also useful for enhancing your indoor decor!

Keep Lilacs from Wilting by

I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite spring flowers, and what are your best tips for adding them into your cut fower arrangements?

Peonies are another of my favorite flowers, and they should be in bloom next month in early June! I’m looking forward to sharing about them more then.

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  1. Heather Anne
    May 5, 2020 / 8:37 AM

    I love lilacs – and I really appreciate these helpful tips! My lilac is just glorious this year – the best it’s been I think! I fertilized the bush last fall and than again in late winter so I am thinking maybe that has helped! It is so fragrant! I can’t wait to bring some blossoms in!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 7, 2020 / 12:03 AM

      How exciting to have a great year with even more blossoms than usual!

  2. May 5, 2020 / 4:16 PM

    Thanks for the tips, Sarah! I’ve been know to cut my lilacs at the wrong time (oops!), so that explains a lot. Yours look gorgeous! For some reason, my lilac bush is not bursting with blossoms this year in New England. I’ll have to enjoy looking at yours. I’ve always loved your blog!!

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 7, 2020 / 12:06 AM

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear your plant isn’t doing too well this year! Hopefully it will bounce back next year with some TLC!

  3. Linda
    May 10, 2020 / 5:58 AM

    Thanks so much for the valuable information. Wish I had it already as spring came really early here this year and my lilacs are already done. Also wish your peony tutorial was posted now because my Bowl of Beauty peonies are currently blooming and they are absolutely gorgeous. I, too, am a great fan of the flowers you mentioned as your favorites. Our Virginia Tidewater weather must be a bit warmer than that in your Pacific NW.

    • Sarah | She Holds Dearly
      May 23, 2020 / 10:11 PM

      Oh dang it! Maybe next year I can help you, haha!

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