How to plant lilac trees

Tips For Growing Lilac Bushes

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Lilac Bushes

By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden

Image by Oxygenum

A longtime favorite, the lilac bush (Syringa vulgaris) is typically grown for its intense fragrance and beautiful blooms. Flowers can range in color from pink to purple; however, white and yellow varieties are also available. They can add a good source of shade or privacy when planted as a hedgerow. Lilacs range from dwarf varieties up to 8 feet (2.5 m.) tall or larger growing ones that can reach heights up to 30 feet (9 m.). With proper lilac tree care, these lovely plants can last decades in your garden.

Planting Lilac Bush

Spring or fall is the best time for planting lilac bushes. Situate the lilac with its roots spread vertically in the ground and make the hole both deep and wide enough to accommodate them. If planting more than one lilac bush, space them at least 5 feet (1. 5 m.) apart to prevent overcrowding, even if you plan to use them as hedges for privacy.

Choose an area with plenty of afternoon sun and well-drained soil. Since lilacs prefer good drainage, planting lilac bushes in slightly elevated areas is recommended whenever possible. Following planting lilac bushes, water them thoroughly and add a layer of loose mulch. Keep the mulch thick enough to keep out weeds and retain some moisture but light enough not to hold too much.

Care of Lilac Bushes

Since lilacs are considered low-maintenance shrubs, the general care of lilac bushes is minimal, with the exception of regular pruning.

Although lilacs tolerate a range of soil types, they prefer well-drained, humus-rich soil. Therefore, working compost in with the soil will help create a suitable planting soil for them. They should be watered thoroughly but not too often, as lilacs do not like their roots to become saturated.

Frequent use of fertilizer is not necessary for lilac tree care. However, fertilizing in early spring may help give blooms a boost, provided there is not too much nitrogen, which will result in insufficient flowering.

Although usually hardy, lilac bushes are occasionally bothered by insect pests, such as borers. Keep an eye out for any signs of pest problems and treat them immediately. In some cases, spraying with soapy water will be sufficient enough to care for insects. However, if heavy infestations occur, pruning the entire plant may be necessary for lilac tree care and health.

Pruning is important for lilac care. Keeping lilac bushes well-pruned will also prevent the chance of disease, such as powdery mildew.

Propagating Lilac Bushes

Lilacs are typically clump-forming, producing new shoots from the base of the trunk. These shoots can be used for propagating lilac bushes. Dig down from the main clump, exposing the roots, and cut the shoot away from the mother plant. Make sure you include roots. Then simply plant the shoot in a suitable location, watering regularly until it takes hold.

With proper planting and care of lilac bushes, anyone can enjoy the beauty of these low-maintenance shrubs.

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How to Plant Lilac Bushes For a Gorgeous Pop of Purple

How to grow lovely lilac bushes

By Cayla Leonard

If you’re looking for a beautiful tree or bush to fill some space in your yard or garden, then lilac bushes should be at the top of your list. They burst with purple, pink, or white flowers, filling the area with a subtle and lovely scent. You can even eat the flowers! Although they look quite impressive, lilac bushes aren’t difficult to care for at all, and gardeners of any experience level can successfully add them to their homes. If you think lilacs are the bush for you, then stick around! We’ll cover everything you need to know in this handy guide to planting and caring for lilac bushes.


  • When to plant your lilac bush
  • How to plant lilac bushes
  • Caring for your lilac bush
  • When and how to prune lilac bushes

When to plant your lilac bush

Choosing what time of year to plant your lilacs is important, as temperatures that are too high or too low can weaken or kill seedlings. There are two options when it comes to planting lilacs. You can plant them in the fall or early spring. Whichever you choose, you want to make sure the ground is not frozen.

For fall plantings, this means getting your lilac bush into the ground before it freezes. In the spring, you’ll need to wait until the ground thaws before planting your lilacs. Lilacs are planted as bushes rather than as seeds, and these bushes are dormant in late fall through early spring. This cuts down on the stress of transplanting.

Lilacs can be grown from seeds, but, like most bushes and trees, they grow slowly. They can take several months to sprout and typically grow for a couple of years before blooming. If you want to grow your lilacs from seed, it’s best to start them indoors and transplant them once they’re older.

How to plant lilac bushes

Start by choosing a planting location that’s in full sun with thick, rich soil. Lilacs prefer neutral or alkaline soils. They don’t typically grow as well in acidic soils, so take note of your soil pH. If you’re planting your lilac near your home or another structure, then be sure to provide enough space for your lilac to grow without touching the building. Variety is important here because lilacs are available as trees, bushes, and vines, all of which take up different amounts of room.

The quickest way to get a beautiful lilac bush is to start from a nursery plant. These are older, so you won’t need to wait as long for flowers. Gently remove the sapling from its container or bag, taking care to remove any string, rope, or tags. Dig your hole a couple inches deeper than the roots are tall, set the sapling in the hole, and gently spread the roots out. Add some soil to the hole, then water it in. Continue filling the hole and make sure the sapling is standing upright.

Caring for your lilac bush

Lilac bushes are quite hardy and need remarkably little care. They need roughly an inch of water each week, which, in some climates, may be taken care of entirely by the rain. Mulch can also be useful since it helps soil retain water. Luckily, lilacs are not prone to serious diseases or pest infestations.

Although you may feel the urge to fertilize your lilacs, limit your fertilizer use. You can mix some compost into your soil, or use a small amount of balanced fertilizer in winter. Lilacs grow slowly, but they grow steadily without fertilizer. Overfertilization poses a greater risk than under-fertilizing them. It leads to more foliage and fewer blooms, especially if the fertilizer is high in nitrogen.

When and how to prune lilac bushes

Aside from water, regular pruning is the most important aspect of caring for lilac bushes. Unlike many shrubs, lilacs should be pruned after they bloom, typically in mid to late spring. This is because they bloom on old wood rather than new growth, so pruning too early or too late will result in fewer flowers. Depending on your variety and its age, you may not need to prune your lilac bush every year. Pruning is most important for bushes that are becoming overgrown.

To prune a branch, take a sharp, clean pair of garden shears and make a single cut. The cut should be at a slight angle, just above a leaf node. Begin at the bottom of the bush and work your way up and out.

Start by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches, as well as any weak or abnormally thin ones. Next, remove the oldest branches, which should be towards the center of the bush, to make room for new branches to grow. Finally, trim it to the size and shape you desire.

Lilacs are a beautiful, hardy plant that can add a burst of color to any yard or garden. It comes in a range of colors and sizes, so be sure to explore all the varieties your local nursery has to offer. Whether you choose a classic variety like the Common Purple Lilac or go for something a little more exciting like the Ludwig Spaeth or President Lincoln varieties, we hope you enjoy your lovely new lilacs!

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Lilac planting and care, reproduction, cultivation features

Fluffy shrubs of Lilac (Syringa) are very unpretentious plants. Even a novice amateur gardener can follow the recommendations for her care, which are similar to the requirements for most flowering shrubs.

Lilac (Syringa) blooms best in open, sunny places, tolerates a hot and dry climate, prefers fertile, slightly acidic and neutral, not too dry soils with low standing groundwater. If the soil is still clayey and hygroscopic properties are poor, then a little pebble should be poured into the bottom of the planting pit as drainage, and the soil removed from the pit should be mixed with humus and complex mineral fertilizers, such as nitrophoska. Lilac bushes can be damaged by various diseases and pests, for example, lilac moth, lilac hawk moth, lilac moth - moth and be affected by late blight buds, bacterial rot. Lilacs are propagated by green cuttings (using rooting stimulants), layering, dividing bushes, grafting and stratified seeds.

Soil preparation and planting site

Lilac seedlings are planted in planting pits, which are dug 2-3 weeks before planting, with a diameter of 40-50 cm, at a depth of 35-45 cm. The pit is filled with the upper fertile soil layer, with the addition of humus, semi-rotted manure, peat feces or weathered peat. Up to 20 kg of these organic fertilizers are brought into the pit. In addition, on acidic soils add 2-2.5 kg of calcareous tufa. On sandy soils, it is better to apply lime in the form of dolomite flour containing magnesium, which is insufficient in light sandy soils. At the same time, mineral fertilizers are applied: 0.7-0.9kg of granular superphosphate and 0.3 kg of phosphorite or bone meal; up to 150 g of potassium sulfate and 700-900 g of wood ash. The mixing of organic and mineral fertilizers with the soil is carried out in such a way that most of them fall into the lower part of the pit. If this amount of soil is not enough to fill, then soil is poured into the pit from the fertile layer of row spacing.

The image shows a circle with drainage of lilac variety Alisa Harding

Lilac Planting Technique

Before planting, the damaged part of the root system is cut off with a sharpened garden knife or pruner. The root system, especially in dry times, is dipped in manure-clay mash before laying in planting pits. If the pits are not covered with prepared soil before planting, then before planting they are filled up to half and evenly compacted. After that, a mound of earth is poured in the center of the pit almost to the top edge of the pit. The lilac root system is placed on the mound, directing the roots in different directions. To avoid deepening of the plant after soil subsidence, the root neck should be located 4-6 cm above the soil level. Sprinkling the root system with a 3-5 cm layer of fertile soil, the pit is filled with the remaining soil and trampled down tightly with feet, starting from the edge. Compaction is carried out carefully, avoiding damage to the root system. Around the planted plant, a roller of earth 15-20 cm high is poured, forming a hole for watering. 15-20 liters of water are poured into the hole. After soaking, the trunk circles are sprinkled with dry soil and mulched with a 3-5 cm layer of peat.

Lilac care

Lilacs are planted in early spring, before bud break, or in autumn. The best time to plant it is September. Planted young bush should be watered frequently. And adult accustomed bushes are watered only during drought. In early spring, weak, dried and growing branches growing inside the bush are cut off, and the “wild” growth is also removed from the grafted one as it appears. Faded panicles are cut off, trying not to damage the shoots located next to them, on which flower buds are laid - flowers will appear from them next year.

Pictured is the common lilac Toussaint L'Ouverture growing in our garden center

When feeding a bush, do not get carried away with nitrogen fertilizers, including organic ones, otherwise it will be worse to bloom and not tolerate winter well. It is enough to apply a complex fertilizer in the spring and potash with phosphorus - after flowering, and this can not even be done annually. The soil under the bushes must be loosened carefully so as not to damage the surface root system. All other rules are standard, take care of lilacs in the same way as any ornamental shrub.

Lilac propagation

Wild lilac species reproduce by seeds. Sowing is carried out in autumn or spring after a two-month stratification of seeds at a temperature of 2-5°C. Varietal lilac is propagated by layering, cuttings or grafting. Grafting is performed with a cutting or a dormant bud (budding). Common privet, Hungarian lilac (Syringa josikaea) and common lilac (Syrínga vulgáris) can be rootstocks.

Lilacs are budded with a dormant bud (in summer) and an awakening bud (in early spring, at the beginning of the growing season). During spring budding, cuttings are harvested in February - March and stored in a refrigerator in bundles of 10 - 20 pieces wrapped in paper. With spring budding, the survival rate is 80%. The vitality of occulants is high, and they successfully hibernate. Due to the rapid blooming of buds in the spring, there is little time for budding, so the method of reproduction by a dormant bud is more common.

The picture shows the lilac Miss Kim in landscape design

The stock is prepared from the second half of June: side shoots are cut to a height of up to 12-15 cm, shoots are removed. Late pruning, just before budding, is not recommended, as the pruning site does not have time to heal. At the stock, the thickness of the root collar should be 0.6 - 1.5 cm, and the bark should be easily separated from the wood. To do this, the plant is abundantly watered 5 to 6 days before the start of manipulation. On the day of budding, the stock is unraveled, and the grafting site is thoroughly wiped with a clean, damp cloth. Cuttings with buds for budding are prepared as they mature. The buds of mature shoots are large, the bark is brown, the maturity of the cutting is also determined by bending: it emits a slight crack as a result of the breakage of lignified tissue.

The optimal cutting thickness is 3-4 mm, length 20-30 cm, it is better to cut them from the south or south-west side of the crown of the bush. Leaf blades are removed, and leaf petioles 1–1.5 cm long are left. They serve for the convenience of budding. Prepared cuttings are packed in a plastic film with moistened moss or sawdust and stored in a basement or refrigerator for 7-10 days. The kidneys are taken from the middle part of the shoot. Upper, usually floral (1-2 pairs) are not used. The lower, poorly developed kidneys are also unsuitable for budding. From one mature shoot, you can take 10-15 full-fledged buds. The best time for budding in central Russia is the second half of July. The success of budding depends on the technique. At a height of 3 - 5 cm from the ground level, a T-shaped incision is made with a quick short movement of the knife so as not to touch the wood tissue. The length of the longitudinal incision is 2-3 cm. At the point of contact of the incisions, the bark is lifted (with the bone of a garden budding knife). The stalk is taken in the left hand and held with the thumb and middle fingers above the cut kidney. The index finger is extended and supports the handle from below. The knife blade is placed at an acute angle to the handle 1-1.5 cm above the kidney. With a quick movement of the right hand, the knife is shallowly inserted into the wood and moved towards itself. Along the entire length of the shield, it must be held at the same depth, and only under the kidney is the blade slightly deepened and pressed in order to overcome the denser tissue of the vascular bundle. A correctly cut shield has a thin layer of wood, its length is 2-2.5 cm, the position of the kidney is in the center.

The photo shows simply wonderful lilac flowers

Further preparation of the shield consists in the separation of wood. The shield is held in the left hand with the wood up, the wood is carefully lifted with a knife and with a quick movement, supported by the thumb of the right hand, is separated from the bark. If the vascular bundle is damaged, the shield must be discarded. A properly prepared shield is taken by the petiole and inserted into a T-shaped incision on the rootstock. With a knife bone, you can move the shield down and, at best, it should be in the middle of the incision. The rootstock bark is bent to the shield and tied. For strapping, an elastic film used in medicine for compresses is used. Ribbons are cut with a length of 30 - 40 cm, a width of 1-1.5 cm. The strapping starts from above and ends under the kidney. The ends of the tape are fixed above the transverse incision with two turns clockwise. The winding is spiral: each lower turn is overlapped by the upper one. The strapping should tightly, without gaps, close the entire longitudinal incision on the rootstock. The bud of the scutellum remains open. The end of the tape at the bottom is fixed with a loop. Then the rootstock is spudded, after 5-7 days the occulants must be watered, and after 15-20 days you can check the survival rate: the accustomed buds are shiny, have a fresh appearance, the petiole disappears with light pressure. The buds that have not taken root dry out, turn black, the petiole of the leaf holds firmly.

Budding is best done between 5 am and 10 am and between 4 pm and 8 pm. In the rain, budding is not carried out. Immediately after the first frost, the occulants are covered with dry peat 5-10 cm above the grafting site. In the spring, the peat is raked, the strapping is removed and the stems are cut off “on a spike” 5–7 cm above the kidney. The cut is covered with garden pitch. The kidneys are immediately removed from the spike, except for the top 2-3, which provide sap flow and supply of nutrients. When the eye begins to grow, the remaining buds are removed from the spike. A new shoot is tied to a spike so that it does not break off.

Professional agronomists of the Yuzhny Garden Plant Center are ready to share with you the nuances of lilac pruning to create your own unique garden, hedge, and tell you about your favorite plant fertilizers, which you can later purchase in our Garden Goods store. The garden center of ornamental cultures "Yuzhny" is a full range of turnkey services for your garden, from planting plants to seasonal care for them.


To the list

Planting lilacs

The planting site for lilacs should be well lit and protected from cold winds. Lilac can grow in partial shade, but in low light it develops worse and blooms poorly. Lilac does not tolerate waterlogging, so you should choose a place with low groundwater (no more than 1.5 m) and good drainage. A gentle slope is perfect for planting, and in lowland areas, lilacs land on a hill (20 x 200 x 200 cm).
The distance between plants depends on the size of a particular variety in adulthood and is usually 2-4 meters, and when planting a hedge of lilacs - 1-1.5 meters.

Planting time

Seedlings with a closed root system can be planted from early spring to early October. In hot weather, planted plants shade (screen) for 7-10 days. During late autumn planting, it is recommended to mulch the near-stem circle with a diameter of 0.6–0.8 m with organic material (neutralized peat, ripened compost, coconut fiber).

Preparing the site for planting

Lilac grows well in fertile, well-drained, humus-rich soils with a reaction close to neutral (pH 6.6-7.5). If the site has cultivated soil, the lilac is planted immediately in a permanent place, and the planting hole is dug twice as large as the root ball. If the soil is clayey and / or acidic, it is better to transfer the seedling into a container of a larger diameter and dig in a sunny place until the planting pit is ready (if deoxidized - after six months). The standard size of a landing pit for lilacs is 50 x 50 x 50 cm. It is better to make the walls of the pit not vertical, but sloping (like a funnel), and pour expanded clay or gravel of medium fraction on the bottom (layer - 10 cm). Garden soil, compost, sand (perlite or vermiculite) are added to the soil mixture in a ratio of 4:1:1, plus 200 g of wood ash, 30 g of superphosphate and, if necessary, deoxidizing material (according to instructions). It is undesirable to apply nitrogen fertilizers during summer and autumn planting of lilacs.
Young one-year-old seedlings are planted for growing in the “school”. They are transplanted to a prepared permanent place the next year in early September.

Preparing a seedling for planting

If a lilac seedling has begun to vegetate, that is, it has young shoots, then it is better to do without pruning, but only remove the flower stalks. The plant at rest leaves 2-3 strong shoots, and small thin branches are cut at the base of the bush. It is recommended to start forming pruning next year, usually at the end of May or in the middle of October.

Immediately before planting, the seedling is soaked for half an hour in a root formation stimulator, the working solution of which is prepared according to the instructions on the drug package. After removing the seedling from the container, it is advisable to straighten and trim the roots a little (by 2–5 cm). Let's do it carefully!


When planting own-rooted lilacs in a prepared place, the root collar of the plant is deepened by 2-3 cm to stimulate the growth of additional roots and the formation of shoots. Tall seedlings are recommended to be tied to pegs with a soft rope. The label or tag attached to the plant must be removed so that over time there are no constrictions on the branch. When planting, it is better to pour the earth in stages, alternating with watering and holding the seedling. When water is absorbed, make a roller around the seat, with a diameter of 2-3 times the size of the root ball of the plant. In order for lilacs to take root quickly, it is important to prevent soil compaction, so mulching with organic material is welcome.

Care in the first year after planting

10-14 days after planting, it is useful to shed lilacs with a root stimulator. In dry weather, it is necessary to water the plant from a watering can, loosen it shallowly after watering and remove weeds. If, after planting, small leaves grow on the lilac or brown spots appear on the leaves, it is necessary to treat the plant with fungicides: spray the leaves with a biological preparation and spill with a protective agent containing tiram.

In mid-August, it is advisable to feed the lilac twice with an interval of two weeks with a solution of “Potassium Monophosphate”. A light winter frame shelter is required only for late autumn planting, and young plants with a dense crown are better to tie a synthetic rope not very tight before snowfalls.

Secrets of success:

  1. Loose fertile soil with a neutral reaction.
  2. No waterlogging (drainage).
  3. Regular loosening.

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