How To Care and Grow Beautiful Lilac Trees And Bushes

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The lilac tree (Syringa vulgaris) produces one of the most universally popular and beloved flowers. I guess that is why lilac bush care is so rewarding – I’ve never met anyone who dislikes lilacs.

For many, these beautiful and fragrant flowers bring treasured memories alive.

beautiful flowers of the fragrant lilac treePin

This old favorite bush and tree form comes as a beautiful addition to the landscape, making it more vibrant and colorful.

Also, these cluster blooming plants are easy to grow, and their fragrant flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Lilacs come in seven colors, but the most popular varieties wear the colors of:

  • White
  • Blue
  • Lavender
  • Pink
  • Magenta

Growing and taking care of lilacs make a pretty simple hobby. However, knowing how to do things perfectly does better.

Read on to learn more about lilac tree care.

Lilac Plant Care: Growing Lilacs in the Garden

Suppliers often ship (Syringa vulgaris) lilacs as bare root bushes and trees so it may surprise you upon receiving them.

The plants may appear dead, but the video below shows their dormant or sleeping state.

To wake them up, soak the roots in water for about 10 minutes. Some other important things to keep in mind when planting lilacs include the following:

  1. Common lilacs need quite a lot of sun – full sun is best. Find a place where you get sunlight in abundance, and it will help them grow better.
  2. Apart from sunlight, lilacs need space. They can even grow into small trees if given enough room. Always provide them with a good amount of space.
  3. Lilacs also require proper water drainage to thrive.
  4. When planting, place the root ball close to the surface of the well-drained soil and tamp down firmly. Plant them 2″-3″ inches deep into the ground if you received the lilacs in the form of bare roots.
  5. Water the plant thoroughly.
  6. Put them at least 10’–14′ feet apart if you like to plant more than one lilac bush.

How To Care For Lilac Bushes in Containers

So, when to plant lilacs bushes?

Growing lilac plants in a container may appear as a form of bonsai. Though some of the rules match with container-grown lilacs such as full sun and good drainage, keep in mind these additional requirements.

  1. Choose dwarf lilacs for container gardening. Some famous dwarf lilacs include the Purple Gem and Pixie. You may also pick the dwarf Korean lilac tree (Syringa meyeri), and attractive lilac shrubs which will add grace, beauty, and fragrance to your garden.
  2. Choose a sturdy container big enough to hold the root system of a fully grown plant.
  3. Try not to move the pot from its original position (full sun is best) once the plant established its roots
  4. Choose a high-quality, well-drained soil with a good mixture of compost included.
  5. Plant lilacs 3–4″ inches deep and tamp down firmly.
  6. Water the plant thoroughly.
interesting lilac facts infographicPin

Lilac Facts…

  1. Some lilac varieties – Josee & Bloomerang lilac will bloom several times during the year.
  2. Most Lilacs flower for approximately three weeks in early spring
  3. Thomas Jefferson wrote a gardening book and in it shared his love for Lilacs.
  4. Some Lilac bushes can survive temperatures down to -50°F.
  5. The “trick” to a big lilac shrub – Don’t prune them often. But be sure to prune lilacs at least once per year.
  6. Lilacs come from the olive family Oleaceae. There are more than 1,000 varieties of lilacs and bushes.
  7. Lilac flowers are edible.
  8. Purple lilac is the symbol of first love.
  9. Syringa reticulata, the tree form lilac can reach 25′ feet tall
  10. For the most fragrance, enjoy purple lilac on warm, sunny days.

How To Care For Lilacs in the Garden

Although lilac trees do not need much attention while growing, a small amount of care will help them grow to their full size and produce more of those lovely blooms. Some of the steps to take while caring for lilacs are as follows:

  1. Apply a good layer of mulch every year to retain moisture and control weeds.
  2. Wait until the top becomes thoroughly dry and then water the common lilac trees well.
  3. Fertilize lilacs very sparingly. A good fertilizer in late winter will serve as enough for the rest of the year.
  4. Pruning lilacs correctly tops the list of to-dos when it comes to taking care of lilacs. Trim them once the blooms ceased. This helps them grow back stronger than before.
  5. Deadheading lilacs will help the plant to produce more flowers. Moreover, it will make the plants look even better.
  6. To improve the flowering of lilacs, don’t let the grass grow near their roots.

Caring for Lilacs in Containers

  1. Lilacs grow best in warm climatic zones where they can stay outside and enjoy the full sun throughout the year.
  2. When growing lilacs in freezing regions, bury containers in the soil to promote more budding and growth.
  3. Make sure the root system of your lilacs can move freely. If the movement becomes restricted, they will not bear many lilac flowers no matter how good the leaves look.
  4. Keep the container in a place where it can receive at least six hours of full sun.
  5. Lilac watering in a pot may seem like a delicate task. This is due to excess water that may damage or kill them. Only water when the soil appears dry and water for about one inch deep.
  6. If you see roots coming out of the water drainage holes, this signals the time to root prune the plant.

With these lilac tree care and planting tips, anyone can enjoy beautiful lilacs and feel as youthful as the blooms!

Tips for Long Lasting Lilacs

With lilacs blooming in many areas of the country, what better time than now to make sure they stay blooming as long as possible.

According to horticultural expert Paul Parent, the below tips on caring will help get the most and prolong the life of your lilacs.

  • Lilacs grow best with a minimum of 1 inch of water per week during the hottest months.
  • Do not over-fertilize or they will not bloom. Over-fertilized plants only grow nice foliages but without the fragrant flowers. In springtime, feed your lilacs with something like Plant-Tone.
  • Lilac plants love sweet soil. This means they grow well with pine trees or oaks nearby. During the beginning of spring, add limestone, wood ash, or similar products at a rate of 2-3 handfuls per 3′ feet tall or spread the lilac.
  • Lilacs bloom on old wood. All things considered, you should prune in the spring as soon as the flowering ends. If you wait for too long, you will remove the new flower buds for next year.
  • While pruning, remove the dead wood and the oldest canes. Cut those right down 5-10 inches from the soil.
  • Each year, cut out 1/2 – 1/3 of the old wood to maintain reblooming lilacs. Cut the tallest parts back to about 5′-6′ feet tall.
  • Hardy lilacs will grow in Zones 3 – 7 but don’t grow well in areas with the warmest climates

Check out our Lilac Question and Answer article

Tips On Pruning A Lilac Tree For Decades Of Flowers

The lilac bears beautiful and fragrant flowers. As plants grow taller and their stems become mature, the flowers will appear smaller, fewer, and more “invisible.”

For the lilacs to develop a good framework of branches, promote robust new growth, and help it produce vibrant blooms. Also, annual maintenance and pruning keep lilacs healthy and vigorous.

Annual pruning removes diseased (powdery mildew) and unproductive stems from the soil. Thinning encourages properly spaced new growth.

A properly pruned lilac can produce decades of flowers and enjoyment. For tips on pruning your lilac, read this article from

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