"It is a privilege and dream- come-true for me to grow and deliver intoxicating beauty."
- Paula Rice
Paula Rice is a professional cut flower farmer and florist providing intoxicating beauty to North Idaho for 15 years. She loves growing and playing with flowers and seeks ways to keep her passion alive and strong by finding solutions to the complexities of operating a growing and designing business in zone 4. It has been quite the education. When she’s not working the fields, you can find her walking the fields, eating raspberries, and wondering what she should make for dinner.
Lilacs are a beautiful and fragrant flower that is sure to add elegance and style to any garden. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, making them the perfect choice for farmer-florists who want to start growing these blooms in their gardens. With just a little effort you can enjoy beautiful lilac blooms every spring! Additionally, lilacs provide an invaluable source of food for pollinators like bees and some of the most beautiful butterflies. By planting some in your garden you can help support local bee populations while adding beauty to your landscape.
One of the most appealing aspects of lilacs is their hardiness in zones 2, 3, and 4. These plants thrive even when the temperatures dip below freezing, making them great options for those living in colder climates. Additionally, they require very little maintenance once established, with only pruning being necessary from time to time. If you use the common lilac it is also very drought tolerant.
Lilacs have incredibly fragrant flowers in the spring in shades of blue, lilac, pink, and white. They are one of the top ten best-sellers, and people ask for it by name as it is a sentimental favorite of many. Steep slopes and hills are the best environments to grow lilacs as they require good drainage.
Lilacs need full sun but also need protection from cold winds. They love cool summers with adequate water. Lilacs are easy to propagate by grafting or cutting woody branches. I use a 15-15-15 fertilizer applied after harvest to help them grow well over the summer and create lots of blooms for next year.
Lilacs have a long history as garden plants that harkens back to the old world; it is said that planting one was thought to bring good luck into your life! Growing Lilacs as a farmer-florist brings good prices and is great for growers to have something in bloom when many other things are not. Left in the right location, they can last for decades; grow a range of colors – white, clear pink, dark purple, blue, and lilac. Very dark cultivars command a premium price says Ray Pincus, a Vermont grower who specializes in lilacs. Susan O’Connell, another Vermont grower, echoes this opinion and states darks sell 3 to 1 over lighter colors.
Selecting the Right Variety
Syringa vulgaris, common lilac and French lilac grows reliably in zones 3 to 6. Cultivars of common or French lilac are usually very fragrant, single or double, and extend the range of possible colors. They bloom after S xhyacinthiflora (cultivars for more southern hemispheres), so growers in areas that commonly experience late freezes should grow the S. vulgaris species. I’ll mention a few here:
‘Sensation’ – Reddish purple or wine color with white margins, single, somewhat resistant to bacterial blight. Lankier growth habit and dark leaves. Grown and loved by many.
‘Agincourt’ – Large single deep purple. Striking.
‘Spokane’ – from the lilac city, this magnificent selection produces double pink buds opening to magenta pink. Very fragrant.
‘Madame Lemoine’ – Best white-flowering french hybrid lilacs
The most serious disease of lilac is bacterial blight or pseudomonas blight, caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. To control bacterial blight, it is best to use resistant cultivars. Powdery mildew can be another problem. Keep good air circulation around your shrubs and trees.
How to Keep Lilacs from Wilting after Cutting:
Harvest at the right time of the day. Early morning is best.
Start with clean buckets of water and sanitized clippers.
Consider the stage of the bloom. Best to pick when one-half to two-thirds of the blooms are open.
Cut lilacs at a 45-degree angle from the stem to maximize water uptake in the stem.
Remove all foliage so your stems are not needlessly hydrating leaves.
Place stems in water immediately while in the field.
Leave your lilacs in bucket in a cool, dark place and allow the flowers to take up water for at least an hour.
To further extend the life of your blossoms, cut stems at a 45-degree angle and scrape stems.
Then cut about 2 inches up the center of the stem. This maximizes water uptake. Don’t smash the stem with a hammer as this introduces more cells for bacteria to feed from.
Allows stems to take up more water for an additional one or two hours before arranging in a vase.
Arrange in a vase.
Keep all blossoms out of the water.
Change water daily to prevent bacteria from building.
Re-trim stems regularly.
My floral hydration recipe to keep your blooms fresh longer:
2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 crushed aspirin or 1 teaspoon bleach
1 quart water
We hope you found this article informative and inspiring. If you have any questions or comments about growing lilacs in zones 2, 3, and 4 please leave us a comment below. We would love to hear from you! Thanks for reading! Happy gardening!
So why wait? Add some lovely lilacs to your garden today!
Lilacs are a beautiful and fragrant flower that is sure to add elegance and style to any garden. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, making them the perfect choice for farmer-florists who want to start growing these blooms in their gardens. With just a little effort you can enjoy beautiful lilac blooms […]
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"My name is Paula Rice and I have beengrowing and playing with cut flowers in zone 4 for 15 years. I speak many dialects of flower quite fluently and have loved creating a life rooted in growing."
Welcome to BeeHaven Flower Farm in beautiful North Idaho.