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Syringa vulgaris (si-RIN-ga vul-GAH-ris)


Lilac blossoms are produced on multistemmed, woody, tall shrubs that reach up to 15 feet tall. The flowers bloom in pyramidal clusters at the stem ends. The individual florets are small and star-shaped. Lilacs are treasured by many for their sweet fragrance.

Lilac colors include hues of purple, lavender, mauve, pink and white.

With proper care and handling, lilacs can last up to 10 days. Most varieties will average five to nine days. Vase life depends on variety and care.

Commercially grown lilacs are available year-round: February through November from domestic growers and November through April from Holland growers.

REFRIGERATION Lilacs should be stored in floral coolers at 34 F to 38 F.
WATER Check the water level daily. Recut the woody stems (do not mash or smash them), and change the flower-food solution every other day. Remove any damaged or faded florets.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Lilacs are sensitive to ethylene gas, so check with your supplier to be sure your flowers have been treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or during transportation.

DESIGN TIPS Lilacs are fragrant flowers that are ideal for use in many types of designs, especially hand-tied bouquets and wedding work. Because they are thirsty flowers, be sure to arrange lilacs only in containers that provide a large water reservoir.
CONSUMER CARE TIPS Lilacs should be kept in cool, well-lit areas. Avoid placing them in direct sun or near any heat sources. It is beneficial to mist the flowers occasionally.

MEANING The genus name “Syringa” comes from the Greek “syrinx,” or “pipe,” referring to the hollow stems. The species name “vulgaris” is Latin for “common.” The common name “lilac” is from the Persian “nilak,” or “blue.”
FAMILY Lilacs are members of the Oleaceae (olive) family. Relatives include Forsythia, jasmine (Jasminum) and Osmanthus.
ORIGINS These flowering shrubs are native to Europe and Central Asia. They were introduced to cultivated gardens from the mountains of Southeastern Europe in the 16th century.
ALLERGY-FREE The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology lists lilacs as an allergy-safe pollen-producing plant

KEEP SEPARATE The sap that exudes from the stems of freshly cut lilacs is said to reduce the vase life of other flowers, so don’t mix lilacs with other flowers immediately after processing.
WHEN BUYING Purchase lilacs when about one-third of the florets are opened. Shake the bunches a little to check for shedding. Lilacs are susceptible to Botrytis, or gray mold, so look for any signs of mold.

Some information provided by:
Roy Borodkin, Brannan Street Wholesale Florist, Inc.; San Francisco, Calif.
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,

You may reach “Cut Flower of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

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