Lilac

Common Names: Lilac, Syringa

Botanical names: Syringa, (si-RIN-gah)

Availability: November through May

Vase life: 3 to 14 days; varies widely, dependent on species and cultivar. As a general rule, the greater the fragrance, the shorter the vase life.

Storage temperatures: 36 - 38 degrees Fahrenheit

Ethylene Sensitive: Yes

Description: Highly fragrant, thickly massed pyramid shaped clusters of small star shaped florets 6 to 10 inches long at the end of woody stems.

Color: White, cream, pinks and purples

Botanical facts: The name is from the Greek word syrinx (pipe), a reference to the hollow stems of the lilac.

Design notes: Frequently displayed alone in a vase, these beautiful blossoms are a wonderful accent in mixed spring arrangements. Lilacs are best suited for arranging in a vase of water. They are short lived in floral foam.

Purchasing hints: Purchase stems with tight blossoms, just beginning to open. The more fragrant the Lilac, the shorter the vase life.

Conditioning: Remove all foliage that will be below the water line. Allow one or two leaf clusters near the blossom to remain intact. This will help draw water into the blossom. Break or cut with a sharp knife two to three inches of the stem end. Hydrate in a solution of warm water and commercial floral preservative / floral food for two hours before storage or usage. Re-cut the stems and place in a fresh water solution every two days for the longest life.

Additional notes: Some of the very first Europeans to explore the Great Lakes area of North America were French fur trappers, traders and the "voyageurs." These were very tough men, capable of traversing the roaring rapids and stormy lakes of the far north in birchbark canoes filled to the gunwales with heavy beaver pelts. Their 17th century exploits, drinking fests, displays of courage and feats of strength are legendary. Yet, on Macanac Island in northern Lake Michigan there are beautiful old Lilac bushes whose dates of planting have been traced back to the late 17th century. They were planted by the fur trappers, traders and voyageurs of the time, well before any European women had traveled into the area. I will always remember my visit to the ancient lilac bushes of Fort Macanac. The deep purple color, the heady sweet fragrance and the wonder of those French-Canadian voyageurs who left their homes in France, traveled across the treacherous Atlantic, then hiked and canoed thousands of miles into the uncharted and hostile far north with only the very barest of essentials, including their most precious lilacs. How they must have loved those flowers.