Lilacs are a spring blooming favourite sure to make any passerby take a deep breath when they catch the scent of these purple budding beauties. Actually, lilacs can come in pink and white varieties too and even variegated purple and white petalled flowers thanks to many years of breeding efforts from horticulturists. Not only are lilacs beautiful for the nose and eyes, they are also a pollinator favourite and can be a seasonal floral used in a variety of recipes (I’ll mention some of these soon)!
First, if you do not grow lilac bushes and would like to, they are easy enough to acquire through propagation instead of purchasing from a store. By choosing the propagation route, you have to be willing to start small knowing these tiny plants will grow into large bushes. It will also save you from spending upwards of $40-150 which is what the average lilac shrub sells for in garden centers.
Propagating lilac shrubs can be done from the shoots that pop up at the base of the trunk of a larger tree. These baby plants can be dug up and transplanted directly into the ground or planted in a large pot and placed somewhere sunny.
Shoots, also known as suckers, are small vertical growths that emerge from the main roots of the plant. To transplant a lilac sucker, use a sharp shovel to remove it from the ground and detach it from the main roots. The reason you need a sharp shovel is because you will basically be cutting through the attaching roots. Right after removing the new baby plant from the main tree, soak the roots in a bucket of water. This will help the plant adjust when replanting.
Now you have your very own lilac bushes without purchasing them!
Note: Lilac bushes often need 3 – 4 years to mature before they start flowering, so if you are impatient, I suggest buying one plant and propagating a few others at the same time, that way you still have blooms. They also need a very sunny location and will mature faster if in the sun more.
Fun Ways to Use Lilacs
Yes, lilacs are an edible floral!
Lilac Infused Sugar
Made by using granulated sugar and lilac flowers (no green parts – these are bitter). Mix 1 – 1 ½ cups sugar with about ¾ cup lilac flowers in a jar and shake. Let them sit for at least two days to infuse. The sugar will have a light floral taste. Don’t let it sit more than a week without using it in a recipe, as the sugar will begin to harden.
Lilac Simple Syrup
1 ⅓ cup water 1 ⅓ cup sugar 1 ⅓ cup lilac flowers 4 – 5 blueberries
Great for cocktails and refreshing beverages, simple syrup is often the sweetness that is added to cold drinks because the sugar is already a liquid form. Combine equal parts water and granulated sugar in a pot over the stove and bring to a boil, stirring to melt the sugar. Once the sugar melts, add the lilac flowers (no green parts). After boiling, turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for at least 20 minutes. Additionally, you can add 4-5 blueberries or blackberries into the simple syrup to add a deeper colour of purple. Strain out the flowers and store in the fridge.
Lilac Blueberry Lemonade
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 2 tbsp – ¼ cup lilac simple syrup Sparkling water or regular water to top it off Fresh or frozen blueberries Ice
Probably the most delicious version of lemonade there is! Add your favourite liquor to spike your lemonade too. I used a pineapple sparkling water in this recipe once and I would highly recommend it. Adjust your amount of sweetness to your liking by adding more or less simple syrup.
Lilac Lemon Loaf
This recipe by Susan Cooks Vegan is a great way to use lilac infused sugar. This is also a vegan recipe, so it is also a great way to help the Earth!
This recipe for lilac popsicles is by Hungry Heart and it uses a lilac cordial in it instead of simple syrup. Cordial is like a syrup but has more acidity, usually with the addition of lemon juice or another citrus. If you do not want to make the cordial listed for this recipe, you could substitute the same amount of lilac simple syrup and add a tbsp or so of lemon juice or mix with a bit of lemonade.
Lilacs in Ice Cubes
Add some florals to your ice cubes and use them in your summer drinks or as decoration around a champagne or wine bottle if you are celebrating something special!