Lilac bushes are one of the most beautiful shrubs you can grow in your garden, and they’re also some of the easiest to care for. Lilac bush care is easy to understand and follow, so once you’ve learned how to grow lilac bushes, you’ll be rewarded with their incomparable beauty.
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Whether they’re white, pink, purple, or that heavenly shade of lavender, lilacs epitomize Springtime.
Known for their lovely fragrance and large clusters of tiny flower petals, lilac bushes can add visual appeal to even the plainest of yards. Luckily for us, they’re as low-maintenance as they are beautiful.
Plant this tree in your yard this season, and you’ll reap its beauty every Spring for decades to come. They’re known to live up to 100 years in the same spot! With a little know-how and a few easy tips, you’ll be growing your own lilac bushes before you know it.
All they ask for is lots of sunlight, fertile soil, water, and a little TLC in the way of pruning every year. Let’s delve into the most important details of lilac bush care!
Top Lilac Bush Care Tips
Lilac Bushes for Sale
If you want to learn how to grow lilac bushes, you’ll need to find a garden nursery that offers lilac bushes for sale. If you dream of growing lilacs in your garden but your local nursery doesn’t carry them, I recommend purchasing lilac bare roots or lilac containers online from Nature Hills Nursery.
They’re the largest online plant nursery in the United States, and they have a large selection of lilac varieties to choose from, too. They offer white, deep purple, blue, and pink lilac bushes; they also have dwarf lilac bushes that are suitable for small gardens and containers.
What I especially like about Nature Hills is their excellent customer service. They can be reached via Chat on their website, so if you have any questions about their plants, just ask away!
Learning how to plant lilac bushes is the second most important step to growing lilacs – second only to choosing a lilac variety that’s suitable for your zone!
The appropriate time to plant your lilac bushes is at the beginning of Spring or in the Fall before harsh Winter conditions settle into the soil. Keep in mind that some lilac shrubs can grow several feet wide, so you’ll need to give them enough room to stretch their roots – at least a space that’s 6 feet wide.
Lilac bushes famously need 6 hours of full sun each day to produce the blooms they’re famous for. This is why choosing your planting spot wisely is so important – planting lilacs in the shade would be disastrous.
Thankfully, lilac bushes transfer well, which means you can purchase a lilac container from your local nursery to plant in your yard. If you purchase your lilac bush in a container that has been growing for a few years, you can expect your lilacs to bloom in the Spring after you transplant it.
If you’re growing lilacs from bare roots, however, your lilac bush will need a few years to mature before it starts producing any blooms and taking the shape of a shrub.
Once you choose the planting spot, dig a hole that’s deep enough to accommodate the pot of lilac, plus 2-3 inches deeper, and several inches wider.
Next, remove the plant from the pot and place it in the hole you’ve dug. Work some topsoil into the hole to completely cover the roots, then water the area to moisten the soil.
Do not over-water, however, as lilac bushes do not like soggy soil. If you’re planting more than 1 lilac bush, plant them at least 6 feet apart from each other to give them room to spread their roots without getting intermingled.
Ideal Soil pH For Lilacs
Lilacs have a reputation for being ultra low-maintenance and not too picky when it comes to what soil they’re grown in. Lilacs do, however, prefer alkaline aka “sweet” soil over soil that’s overly acidic.
The ideal soil pH for planting lilac bushes is anywhere between 6.5 to 7. If you don’t know your soil’s pH, you should test your soil with a soil pH meter , which you can find on Amazon or at your local garden center. If your soil tests too acidic, simply add enough garden lime to the soil to improve the alkaline levels.
After your lilac bush has been planted, water it regularly to keep the root system moist, but never to the point of flooding – well-drained soil is key, or you’ll risk root rot.
Lilac Bush Varieties
Picking out a lilac variety that will thrive in your hardiness zone is an important step to learning how to grow lilac bushes that produce beautiful blooms. There are hundreds of lilac varieties to choose from, so choosing the right variety for your zone and preference will make all the difference.
Lilacs bloom in the Springtime, usually in the month of May, for around two weeks. To enjoy lilac blooms in your garden for an extended period of time, aim to plant several varieties of lilacs that all bloom at different times. This will help to ensure that you have lilacs blooming for around 6 straight weeks in the Spring.
There are several varieties of the common lilac, Syringa Vulgaris, so you’re bound to find one that works for you. Lavender Lady is a low-chill variety that can be grown in plant hardiness zones that don’t have an especially cold Winter, such as Zone 8 and 9. For more varieties and bloom times, check out Nature Hills Nursery.
How to Fertilize Lilacs
As Spring approaches, you can provide your lilac bush with extra nutrients by using organic fertilizer that’s high in phosphorous and low in nitrogen. However, some gardeners choose to skip this step altogether and are still able to grow lilacs successfully in their zone without fertilizing.
Using the right fertilizer can indeed help strengthen this year’s wood, which ultimately determines the quality of next Spring’s blooms. Make sure not to use a fertilizer that contains too much nitrogen, as nitrogen can strangle your blooms.
If you’re concerned about weeds taking over the area, you can purchase some mulch, burlap, or stone to place over the topsoil, which will help prevent further growth of weeds, grass, or other seeds that have been blown into the area.
We can’t talk about lilac bush care without talking about pruning! If left untamed, lilac bushes can grow past 30 feet tall and several feet wide, making them unmanageable for even the most seasoned gardener. This is why pruning lilac bushes every year is an important step in your lilac care routine.
Pruning lilacs properly will help to ensure that your lilacs bloom in large clusters each Spring for years and even decades to come.
But how will you know when to prune your lilacs? The answer is simple: when your blooms are spent, it’s time to prune! For most zones, this usually occurs in late May to mid-June.
Every year after bloom, grab your pruning shears and remove the spent blooms and their stem aka “dead wood” so that you’re only left with strong, healthy wood. Be careful not to over-prune because you don’t want to get rid of new wood and shoots that will be producing buds for next Spring’s blooms.
For a far more in-depth post on pruning lilacs, check out this post.
There you have it – this article sums up the most important steps in lilac bush care! Remember: full sun, moist soil, and pruning at the end of Spring will keep this shrub happy.
To learn about lilac care and growing lilac bushes, take a look at the gardening posts below!
If you’re looking for more flowers for your yard that are also low-maintenance, check out this list, you’re bound to fall in love with a few varieties that pair beautifully with your lilacs!
If you have more space in your yard that gets at least 6 hours of sun each day, then this list of full sun perennials will give you plenty to work with.
Before you know it, your garden will be the envy of your entire neighborhood!