Can/Should I Cut Flowers From My Lilac Bush?

amck2May 12, 2009

My lilac bush is near full bloom and I would love to cut some flowers to enjoy the sight & scent inside.

We planted the bush 6 yrs. ago and it is full and healthy. I've never cut the flowers and don't want to damage the bush.

If you think it's okay to do, can you tell me the best way to cut them? Thanks -

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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

People have been cutting and bringing inside for centuries. This is what the bush is grown for.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 5:42PM
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So...should I cut clusters from the top? or the outside?

Should I keep to just enough for a vaseful, or can I cut most all the blooming flowers?

Will my cutting result in fewer blooms next year?

Sorry if these questions seem elementary, but I'm a very novice gardener and this is my first lilac bush.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 9:14PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

measure vase.. cut accordingly ...

buds are set after flowering ...

cutting off all flowers.. avoids seed set.. which is a plus ...

learning how to PROPERLY MAINTAIN YOUR SHRUB.. will help you in the future ... cut flowers.. learn about this next week


    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 11:57PM
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hlollar(5 CO)

Cutting your lilac blooms now are fine. The new blooms start coming later, so you will not effect next year's growth. Never trim a lilac early spring, always wait until after it has bloomed. Enjoy your blooms! :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 7:41AM
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I agree with all of the above - I've been cutting vast bouquets of lilacs from my own shrubs for years. To extend the life of the cut flower stems and so they can draw up sufficient water, smash the woody bases with a hammer or other heavy object. If you don't, they will wilt easily and not last very long as a cut flower. And try to get a few that are not yet fully open - they seem to offer more intense fragrance.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 9:59AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

I also cut lilac blooms. However, I have heard that cutting lilac blooms reduces flowering the following year. I don't believe it, but that rumor is out there.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 1:59PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

No, like flowering bulbs, cutting the flowers makes for better flowers next year, because you prevent plant energy spent on growing seeds. I cut off all the flower clusters when they fade on my very young bushes, so they use energy on growing, not seeds.

Lilac bushes SHOULD be cut, they are FOR being enjoyed where you want them in vases or being given away. Church flowers, nursing home friends, spread the flowers around! I get so many good memories of things, when I sniff smelly lilacs!!

For your lovely bush in the long run, some judicious pruning is helpful to it. I try to keep the sucker sprouts reduced to a couple new ones instead of many, each year. A little renewal coming along if I want to take out an old stem. New stems often bloom very well. I look at the bush to see if old trunks are still producing flowers in quantity. Sometimes they get so tall, you can't enjoy the flowers, so taking out an old trunk makes the flowers more available, VISIBLE to people on the ground.

Sounds mean, but pruning your bush is actually good for it, and the flowering you want in the future. Pruning is one of the hardest things I had to learn, but the great results after have made me a believer. Prune as soon as the flowers are done, won't bother next years flowers at all.

I am trying some stem braiding, which I saw on some old bushes. Just braided up some sucker stems, tied near the top with string. Will take some time, years, but fun to try for visual interest on the bushes someday.

Smashing or cross cutting the woody stems, does help the flowers drink better, so they last longer.

Mine are just opening now, smells GREAT outside.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 5:51PM
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I appreciate all the responses. I didn't want to miss the window of opportunity to cut some blooms now, and my quick online searches didn't answer my questions.

I'm more "at home" in the Cooking Forum, but I suspected that there would be folks here willing to help me out. Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 7:58PM
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Also, remove all the leaves! Otherwise they will wilt quickly.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 10:30PM
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shortlid(Derry, NH)

If I want my lilac to be a big and full as posible. Like a lilac tree, shoudl I prune it any differintly?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 9:19PM
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