How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Lilac Shrubs

Yankee Doodle Lilacs

Huge blooms, wonderful scent.

Wally Patrick


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Who doesn’t love lilacs? The ideal lilac shrub has about 10 canes and produces flowers at eye-level—all the better to enjoy that sweet, haunting fragrance.

Lilacs do come in seven colors, but most are familiar with the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, which blooms in the northern states for 2 weeks in late May. However, there are early-, mid-, and late-season lilacs, which, when grown together, ensure a steady bloom for at least 6 weeks.

Lilacs are hardy, easy to grow, and low maintenance. They can grow from 5 to 15 feet tall, depending on the variety. The fragrant flowers are good for cutting and attractive to butterflies.


  • Grow lilacs in fertile, humus-rich, well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil (at a pH near 7.0). If your soil is in poor condition, add compost to enrich. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing soil for planting.
  • Select a site where your lilac will get full sun—at least 6 hours. If lilacs don’t get enough sun, they will not bloom well.
  • Make sure the site drains well. Lilacs don’t like wet feet and will not bloom with too much water.
  • Plant in either spring or fall, although the latter is preferred.
  • If you’re lucky, a friend will give you a sucker, or offshoot, of the root system of one of his plants. Your sucker will look pathetic at first but just dig a hole, backfill it with soil, and stick the sucker in. Then water and wait. In 4 or 5 years, you’ll be rewarded with huge, fragrant blossoms.
  • Transplanting lilacs from a nursery is also easy. If it’s container-grown, spread out the roots as you settle the plant into the ground; if it’s balled or burlapped, gently remove the covering and any rope before planting. Set the plant 2 or 3 inches deeper than it grew in the nursery, and work topsoil in around the roots. Water in. Then fill in the hole with more topsoil.
  • Space multiple lilac bushes 5 to 15 feet apart, depending on the variety.


  • Each spring, apply a layer of compost under the plant, followed by mulch to retain moisture and control weeds.
  • Water during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
  • Lilacs won’t bloom if they’re overfertilized. They can handle a handful of 10-10-10 in late winter, but no more.
  • After your lilac bush has finished blooming, spread some lime and well-rotted manure around the base. Trim the bush to shape it, and remove suckers at the same time.

Pruning Lilacs

  • Lilacs bloom on old wood, so it’s critical to prune in the spring right after they bloom. If you prune later in the summer, you may be removing the wood. Here’s a tip: If your lilac flower clusters are getting smaller, time to prune!
  • Every year after bloom, remove any dead wood. Prune out the oldest canes (down to the ground). Remove the small suckers. Cut back weak branches to a strong shoot. Cut back tall canes to eye height.
  • If your lilac is old and in really bad shape, remove one-third of the oldest canes (down to the ground) in year one, half of the remaining old wood in year two, and the rest of the old wood in year three. Another option for old lilacs is to chop the whole thing back to about 6 or 8 inches high. It sounds drastic, but lilacs are very hardy. The downside to this option is that it takes a few years to grow back. The upside is less work and more reward, as the lilac will grow back bursting with blooms. 
  • It must be recognized that severe pruning results in the loss of blooms for one to three years. For these reasons, a wise pruning program aims to avoid severe and drastic cuts by giving the bushes annual attention. 


  • Prone to attack by slugs and snails.
  • Powdery white mildew may appear after a summer of hot, humid weather. It may be unsightly, but it does no harm. Ignore it.

Recommended Varieties

Wit & Wisdom

  • To improve the flowering of lilacs, keep the grass from growing around them. A 16- to 24-inch circle of landscape cloth placed around the bushes and covered with bark or stone will keep the grass down.
  • Force a winter bouquet from cut branches of lilac. Bruise the cut ends and set them in water. Spray the branches frequently. Keep them in a cool place until they bloom, then move to a warmer area for display.
  • Poet Walt Whitman thought of lilacs when Abraham Lincoln died: 
    When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d … I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.”
  • Lilacs supposedly symbolize the joy of youth. Learn about more flower symbolism here.

Reader Comments

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Yes, you can grow a lilac

Yes, you can grow a lilac from a cutting. The timing is important. Take cuttings of 8 inches in mid-June. Dip in a sand/peat or vermiculite medium and mist.

Our family has lived in our

Our family has lived in our house for over a year but today as I walked past a shrub, a lovely fragrance caught my attention! Upon further inspection, I discovered several clusters of lilac flowers.
We live in California (zone 9). The lilac shrub is located under several large shade trees and I thought about transplanting it to a sunnier place. Since it is currently in bloom, should I wait until next winter/spring?

You need to wait until early

You need to wait until early next spring when the lilac is dormant. Lilacs transplant well as long as they are not coming into leaf.

I live in Central NC and

I live in Central NC and desperately want as many lilacs on my property in bloom for as long as I can during the year. Which ones would do best for spring, summer and fall here? Want the most fragrant ones trees and bushes.

Lilacs just don't thrive in

Lilacs just don't thrive in NC. Not enough chill time. Try the Miss Kim variety. Go to the garden nursery and check out what's native to your area.

My lilac has bore holes in

My lilac has bore holes in the branches, I read to cut and burn the branches. That would take almost the whole plant, its realy old and im afraid it would not recover. This lilac is called Sensation, its more tree looking than bush and has never had suckers . How can I save it or get a new start?

Hi Tommie, A hard pruning is

Hi Tommie,
A hard pruning is not going to kill a healthy lilac. Your lilac may be weak from the borer damage and may die. If you have some new growth this spring you can take a few soft wood cuttings before all the leaves open. Make the cuttings 6 to 8 inches long and make sure each cutting has two or three nodes. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting and dip the bottom into rooting hormone before planting in a pot with well-draining staring mix. Mist the leaves and keep the soil moist. The cutting should root in about 6-7 weeks.

I read that Lilacs enjoy used

I read that Lilacs enjoy used coffee grounds. Do you recommend this? What does it do for them?
We are in Northern panhandle of West Virginia.

Coffee grounds are great for

Coffee grounds are great for acid loving plants. Lilacs like  rich, well-drained soil with a neutral pH. It's better to put the coffee grounds in the compost pile and then add some compost to your lilacs.

I have a dwarf Korean lilac

I have a dwarf Korean lilac tree and I live in Indiana. We will be moving and I want to transplant the tree to the new home. When is the best time to move the tree? We probably won't move until late summer.

Lilacs transplant well as

Lilacs transplant well as long as they are not coming into leaf; so transplant lilacs while they are dormant--in early spring. Can you transplant to its new home earlier?

I live in the mountains of

I live in the mountains of Western NC and own a mature purple lilac. The plant is gorgeous, however, part of the tree dies after beginning to bloom. This happens every year in the same location on the tree as the year before. I have treated for disease and insects using as many natural options as I can think of. Is there something I have overlooked? I do not like to use chemical solutions, if I can avoid it. Thanx =) Happy spring to all.

Hi, Donna, This is an unusual

Hi, Donna, This is an unusual question. Our only thought is that this is a pruning issue. When lilacs don't fully bloom this is often due to late or early season pruning. If you prune, do so immediately after flowering, as the flower buds on lilacs develop on subsequent new growth. Pruning in August, for example, would remove those newly formed flower buds; pruning in March would also remove them just prior to flowering.

I live in Wisconsin and am

I live in Wisconsin and am getting married on June 14. I was wondering if there was any way to predict when lilacs will bloom and when they will be done blooming this year (2014). I'm just trying to plan everything, but lilacs have such a short window, so I'm hoping I'm okay!

Why, lilacs bloom when

Why, lilacs bloom when grasshopper eggs hatch! I don't suppose this is the answer you're seeking.
They are one of the first flowering bushes/shrubs to bloom just after the forcythia (another cue!)

Lilacs generally bloom in late May for 2 weeks and, as you said, their blooms don't last long. However, there are late-blooming varieties which bloom in early June.
June 14 seems a bit late, however, it is highly dependent on weather and hard to predict. It's possible that the lilacs will still be blooming if we have have a late, snowy spring.

I live in Southern

I live in Southern California.My mom planted two lilac bushes about 10 years ago and they do exceptionally well where they are located, however I would like to relocate them to a different area. Is this possible without causing trauma to the bush?

Lilacs transplant very well

Lilacs transplant very well and spring is the best time to do it. Make sure to get as much of the rootball as you can. Dig a hole in the new location that is double the size of the rootball and add plenty of compost into the hole. Place the lilac in the hole to the same depth level that it was in its original location. Fill the hole with a mix of soil and compost and water deeply.

Hi, I live near Raleigh, NC.

Hi, I live near Raleigh, NC. I have 14 lilac bushes and some are 20 years old. They bloom every year but they are only about 4 feet tall they will not grow taller. Also there not thick full bushes instead there scragly looking. Is there something I can do to make them grow better? thanks, Kenny Hinkle

Hi Kenny, Your lilacs would

Hi Kenny,
Your lilacs would benefit from some pruning. See our pruning advice above. Just remember to prune right after they have bloomed.

I live in the high desert in

I live in the high desert in CA, winters cold, summers hot. I have 2 very small bushes. They are growing very slowly, have never bloomed. What can I do to help them.

Hi Wilda, Make sure that your

Hi Wilda,
Make sure that your lilacs have good drainage and full sun. If you haven't fertilized the bushes lately add some bonemeal and compost or aged manure to the soil. Lilacs like slightly acidic soil that is not too rich in nitrogen.

Hi There, We live in the

Hi There,

We live in the Portland Oregon area, so temps are moderate and winters are wet. We have several California Lilacs that are about 7ft in height and have created the perfect screen. Love these shrubs, but just noticed that on most of them (6 or 7) the leaves have started to brown and it's late December. I also noticed an extremely strong fragrance coming from the shrubs (like a combination of cinnamon and alcohol but gone bad...hard to describe). I had actually thought it was a neighbor cooking for the holidays, but realized today it was my shrubs. I don't have a green thumb, so not sure at all what to do. Any thoughts on what might be causing this. It would be horrible to lose all 9/10 shrubs this winter. Any help will be GREATLY appreciated!

We live in south central

We live in south central Montana. I have two ever blooming lilacs that I purchased through the mail 4 years ago. The plants are now three and four feet tall. They bloomed twice this summer. The bushes lost their leaves the middle of October. We had a long warm fall with rain and some snow. Now, I notice both plants are putting on new leaves. Should I worry about them? Gayle

It doesn't sound like

It doesn't sound like anything to worry about. Lilacs go through these weather situations.  They haven't started blooming.

I live in Southern

I live in Southern California. At the coast. Which type of lilac can grow in this climate?

The common lilac needs cold

The common lilac needs cold treatments to thrive and bloom so they are not meant for your climate. However, you may enjoy this "California Lilac" - http://www.goldenwestcollege.e...

I just was given a dwarf

I just was given a dwarf lilac bush and I am wondering if it is too late to plant. I live in Northern WI and we have already had a light frost. Can I keep it alive in the pot it is in until Spring for planting? Do I put it in a cool place in my basement and water periodically?

Joy, This is a great time to

Joy, This is a great time to plant your lilac bush. The idea time is in the fall after the leaves have dropped, but before the
ground freezes. By planting in the fall (versus spring), lilacs have a better chance to survive.

I also live in WI, have a

I also live in WI, have a bush that has spent all spring and summer in a large planter. Has thrived. Any suggestions as to how to winter it in the planter? Moving and don't want to plant it yet.

Hi, I live in central

Hi, I live in central California, and I have a lilac tree that is over 10 years old. Every spring, it has bloomed beautifully; however, this last spring, we had some really cold winds, and neither the leaves nor the flowers opened all of the way. Since then, I have had no new foliage, and what I did have has turned brown. I do not believe that water is a problem, and when I cut off a small cutting, the wood is clearly green and still alive. I would appreciate any advice that comes my way. Thanks! Kim

It sounds like your tree is

It sounds like your tree is alive. Let it rest over the winter and see if it will come back next year. If you need to prune any of the dead branches do it next spring.

Is in OK to cut back my Lilac

Is in OK to cut back my Lilac in the fall? I live in Pa.

Lilacs bloom on old wood, so

Lilacs bloom on old wood, so it's critical to prune in the spring right after they bloom. If you prune later in the summer or in the fall, you may be removing the new buds that already have formed. See our pruning tips above.

I have a lilac tree (unknown

I have a lilac tree (unknown variety)I planted a 6-7 years ago. It grew tall very quickly and flowered wonderfully but last year it got very spindly so after it flowered I cut it back. This year I have new leaf growth on the trunks but they are small and colored differently than the regular leaves. And my regular leaves are growing with splits on their sides and are curling strangely. Any ideas on splitting leaves or tall spindly bushes? I have planted a couple small volunteers under the tree hoping to have them grow to fill in the empty spaces in the tree. I live in Colorado and I have to admit this year we have had the strangest weather, very hot and humid with cold/cool spells from one day to the next.
Also, I used to live in Alabama and there were several french lilacs growing in the area, they were the most fragrant lilacs I've ever smelled. Will that type of lilac thrive here on the front range? I would love to plant them here.

We suspect that your unusual

We suspect that your unusual weather this summer has caused some of the problems that you have with the lilac. Wait and see what happens next year before you prune anymore.
A couple of fragrant French hybrid lilacs are 'Adelaide Dunbar' (zones 4-7) and 'Charles Joly (zones 3-7). They have double, deep purple flowers. These two varieties will grow nicely in Colorado.

Leaves are turning brown and

Leaves are turning brown and curling upwards.

Hi, Dave, These symptoms are

Hi, Dave, These symptoms are usually related to water:  either too much water or water shortage (and the plant is drying out) because of frequent shallow watering. Water as follows:   Water deeply until the ground is watered 9 to 12 inches deep. Then do not water again until the ground is dry at least 6 inches deep. Organic mulch will keep the ground moister for longer. –The OFA editors

I got some seeds in may and

I got some seeds in may and planted them as soon as I got them. They haven't grow. Did I plant the seeds to soon and that why they haven
't grow?

We are not sure where you got

We are not sure where you got your lilac seeds so it's hard for us to diagnose the issue. One common problem is planting seeds too deep into the ground. With lilac seeds, you should barely cover the seed with soil when planting.

I planted a Lilac Sunday

I planted a Lilac Sunday Lilac this past spring. It took well, but is still quite small, 12-18 inches. I am worried about the Buffalo, NY winter coming up and crushing it under the weight of the snow. Any tips on winterizing baby Lilacs?

To winterize lilacs, your

To winterize lilacs, your best bet is to add two or three inches of organic mulch around each plant (no thicker). Use wood chips or shredded wood. If they do not last, consider buying a hardier type of lilac. All the best!

I bouoght a lilac bush (ms.

I bouoght a lilac bush (ms. Kim)from a nursery. I planted it but now it has dead leaves almost over the whole plant. What have I done wrong. We had a hot smmer and lots of rain. I live in Pensacola, FL. Help. I don't want it to die.

Your issue is not uncommon.

Your issue is not uncommon. Lilacs really aren't native to the south and generally do not receive the cold temperatures in Florida that they need for normal growth.A good substitute is crape myrtle. We would suggest you bring a sample to your local Florida cooperative extension for a full diagnosis.

I have moved back north

I have moved back north Saulte Ste Marie, MI. There were 2 large bushes on the west side of the house, so big they had been tied up with rope and not taken care of for several years. I cleaned them up and cut them back, not to the ground however. They are leafed out and looking full, they are old, old lilacs. Should I cut them back more, trim them, leave them alone?? What can I do about the many shoots growing around each bush, are they taking away from the main plant. There are too many for me to dig up. Help and Thanks.

Just continue to remove any

Just continue to remove any dead wood and prune out the oldest canes each year. If this doesn't work, you could try more serious pruning as discussed on this page. In terms of suckers, here is more detail:  If your lilac grew on its own roots, it is not "required" to remove the suckers but know that they wll grow into new branches which will flower in a few years. It depends on what you envision for your property. It's only the grafted lilac that requires removal of suckers. If you leave the suckers from below the grafting, the suckers will overtake the graft.

I have 3 beautiful lilac

I have 3 beautiful lilac shrubs that were started from off-shoots. The tree is getting taller and taller & bushy with beautiful green leaves and NO FLOWERS ever. They are about about 6 feet tall and healthy but no flowers. What do I need to do? They get plenty of sun. Thanks

Young lilacs generally take

Young lilacs generally take time to bloom. Most flower after 3 or 4 years though some take longer. Some tips: Prune at the right time as lilacs bud off old wood and you may be removing the flowers. Prune 2 or 3 weeks after the time when they would have flowered. It's good that you have sun. Give them slightly alkaline soil (pH 6-7) as too much acid can affect blooming.  Don't give lilacs too much nitrogen fertilizer which encourages lush leaves at the expense of blooms. Hope this helps!

I have mature lilacs that

I have mature lilacs that bloomed beautifully last year. I cut back extensively late fall/early winter. This spring the foliage was abundant but just a few blooms. We've had a dry year here in western Oregon could it be from lack of water? I did not give any additional watering I left it to nature. I live on a horse farm with lots of good horse compost. Should I amend soil annually? I have not done that in the past. Thanks!

Hi, Alex, Every year we

Hi, Alex, Every year we receive letters from people who are disappointed that their lilacs bloomed sparely. Sometimes older lilacs need a big prune, but if you prune lilacs back extensively, it may also take a number of years before they bloom again. They should produce flowers in time, but it could take one to three years, sometimes longer. See pruning section above.
Fertilizer is rarely the answer to a plant that isn't blooming. Lilacs are not heavy feeders; if your soil is fertile, that is usually fine. Amending with manure or organic matter is helpful; the only "rule" with lilacs is to avoid fertilizer with excess nitrogen which causes leaf growth at the expense of bloom.
Moisture isn't usually related to lack of blooms; it's associated with plants' roots and how well they thrive. Lilacs do best in well-drained soil.
You did not do anything wrong. It's OK to prune extensively. For older plants that need complete renovation, we often prune with a foot of the ground. However, it must be recognized that severe pruning results in the loss of blooms the following year(s).

Hi! I live in Orlando

Hi! I live in Orlando Florida and was wondering if lilacs would be good for me to plant. I don't know much about them. I have read all the Q & A on your site. If you believe i can plant them here. What kind/type? Thank you for your time.

Hi Lori, We do get lots of

Hi Lori, We do get lots of questions from southern readers who would like to grow lilacs (just as northerns would like to grow tropical flowers!). Lilacs simply don't thrive in warm climates. It's not just the Sun; lilacs need a long period of winter chill in order to bloom well. A good substitute for lilacs in the South is lilac chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus).  If you find a lilac that blooms well in your region, we'd love to know! There are always new experiments. 

Hi - our lilac (not sure what

Hi - our lilac (not sure what kind) but was just planted early June - looks like part of it is dying already. There are 3 separate stem systems (if that makes sense?) and one whole portion has dry dead leaves on it...any ideas? Thank you!

Hi Sarah, There are many

Hi Sarah, There are many reasons why the lilac may not have established well. For example:
Did you plant in the spring before the buds starting to unfold?
Did you plant too deep? You wan to set lilacs 2 or 3 inches deeper than it grew in the nursery.
Did you get a soil test? (Lilacs aren't picky but they don't like acidic soil).
Is the soil fertile? Did you add in compost?
Does the soil drain well? Lilacs hate "wet feet" and you don't want the roots to rot. 
Did you water it in -- and keep the soil moist (not wet) for the first 3 to 4 weeks? 
Do you have mulch around the lilac--if so remove! 
Lilacs do naturally send out roots to survive.
You may wish to get a sample to your cooperative extension because there are many reasons why the lilac may not be doing well. Normally, they transplant well (assuming it was healthy when you planted it!).

I'm in NY. Yesterday planted

I'm in NY. Yesterday planted nursery bought Lilac Boomerang and sadly noticed today it is wilting/dying. I planted 2 inches deeper than it was potted. Watered the hole with mild solution Mir Grw fertilizer and added small amount of organic garden soil, then put mulch around
root. HELP, please, any suggestion.

Summer is not a good time to

Summer is not a good time to plant a lilac. It may be in transplant shock which is why it is wilting. The best you can do to save it is to keep it well-watered and closely monitor its soil moisture. Make sure the root ball and surrounding soil isn't dried out. Water deeply, then let the surface dry between the next (deep) watering. Also, while compost in the hole is a good idea, we would not advise putting fertilizer in the hole itself; this can cause root burn. You may want to bring back your receipt to the nursury if you have a guarantee.

Need some advice! Hope I did

Need some advice! Hope I did not just kill our Lilac bushes.

I believe they are Miss Kim / Manchurian Lilac based on pictures I've seen. I had previously gotten advice and seen tips online on how to prune when they get too big. Ours were about 8' tall, had finished blooming a few weeks ago, and have started to sprout a lot of extra shoots and leggy branches in recent years, despite trying to cut those away at the base. Basically only the top 15" or so of the plants were producing leaves (but did bloom very well the last couple years).

I was told I could do a "10 year pruning" where I leave the biggest, healthiest trunks intact but cut them back by 1/2 to 2/3 (not all the way to the ground - more like 2-3 feet with the taller cuts in the middle of the plant), with the idea that the cut-back trunks will produce new spouts this summer, that can then start thickening / growing next spring and summer and hopefully blooms the following year.

Now I'm reading people recommend you do it in winter, and 6-8 INCHES off the ground! Which is it? Did I just kill our lilacs because I cut them in summer? Also I didn't disinfect the shears... we don't have any diseased plants on our property so didn't think it necessary. Should I tar-cap the exposed trunks on the tops?

Main reason I cut them back is they were covering our windows and to the point I needed a ladder to prune the tops of the bushes (which still seem to add another 6" every year despite pruning / thinning. Was trying to "reshape / reset" the plant so the good stems that would contribute to a more rounded form (not sticking out at odd angles), would regenerate leafy growth and eventually flowers in a couple years.

What should I do now... put a hose at the base of the plant for 5-10 minutes each week maybe?

Miss Kim's do have a tendency

Miss Kim's do have a tendency to outgrow their space. For lilacs, the most important rule is timing. Prune soon after flowering -- not in late summer nor winter nor early spring -- or you remove their buds and blooms. Also remove all dead limbs. You can also rejuvenate older lilacs by completely cutting all stems down to 4 to 6 inch stubs, generally in February and March. However, some readers have found that the Miss Kims do not respond well to this method (unlike the old-fashioned lilacs). Miss Kims seem to prefer regular pruning--starting early in their life--before they get out of control.

Hi. I got 2 Lilacs from

Hi. I got 2 Lilacs from Lowes on clearance on July 3rd. (royalty and james mcfarland) Should I plant them in the ground or put them in a big container until fall? We live in Northern Virginia.

Plant the lilacs in

Plant the lilacs in containers big enough for the roots to grow. Mix a bit of compost into the potting mix. Place the containers in semi-shade and make sure to keep the soil moist. In late summer or fall plant them in the ground.

We live in Cascade, ID -

We live in Cascade, ID - about 5,000 ft. I have 4 lilacs that have always been beautiful, until this year. It looks like they set the blooms, but never did anything. Any suggestions

Have you had enough sunshine

Have you had enough sunshine this year vs. cloud and rain? Usually, insufficient sunlight is the problem. Did you prune at the right time last season (not spring, but mid-summer well after bloom)? Also, avoid using fertilizers high in nitrogen.

About 4 years ago, my husband

About 4 years ago, my husband gave me a lilac bush for my birthday. It was purchased from a local horticultural services business. We planted it in the late spring - following the directions which came with the bush. However, while the leaves are green and it has grown a little bit (maybe half again as tall as it was when we bought it), it has never bloomed. There have never even been any buds. I'm wondering if there is anything that can be done to encourage my little bush to bloom?

We're guessing that the most

We're guessing that the most likely cause in your case for no blossoms would be that the bush is still too young to flower. Some lilacs may take up to 5 or 7 years to start blooming.

Although you have followed the directions which came with the bush, it might be good to double-check that the plant is still getting at least 6 hours of sunlight (has other growing vegetation started to shade your bush?), and that the soil is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline (pH 6.0 to 7.5). A fertilizer high in nitrogen promotes leaf growth over blossoms; if you need to fertilize, choose one whose N-P-K ratios are about even, and only apply a small amount; lilacs don't do as well in rich soil. Also, make sure that the plant is getting enough water (about an inch per week).

I live in Manitoba and

I live in Manitoba and winters are harsh. Have 2 Miss KIm, They are doing really good. 2 are outside my bedroom window, and are so very fragrant. Was thinking about getting a couple of suckers and transplant. But was not sure how to do it. I now have the info. Thanks a bunch.

Our neighbor just cut their

Our neighbor just cut their lilac bush down to about 18 inches tall from over 8 feet tall. Needless to say all that is left are bunch of cut off canes with no branches at all. We would like to somehow grow a new plant from this if possible. What part of what is left would we need? Or should we just give up on it and look for one from a nusery?

You can propagate lilacs by

You can propagate lilacs by either digging up suckers or taking cuttings from the bush. Your best bet is finding a sucker (ideally 2 to 3 foot tall). With a spade dig down around the sucker. You'll find a connecting root leading back to the main stem. Cut this root off just outside of the sucker's root ball. Remove the sucker with the roots and plant it in a big pot with potting soil. Water well.

We planted a lilac bush 2

We planted a lilac bush 2 weeks ago. It has 3 main branches and all the leaves on the middle one are curling in or shriveling. The plant was already done blooming when I purchased it at a local nursery. The weather is in the upper 80's all this week. I started watering it regularly when I noticed this but I don't want to over water it. Should I be concerned?

Fall and spring are the best

Fall and spring are the best times to plant. Keep watering the lilac and make sure that the soil stays moist. Add some compost or bonemeal to the soil. Good luck!

Can I start a new purple

Can I start a new purple lilac by soaking or just putting the branches I cut off the tree.?

It is possible to grow a new

It is possible to grow a new lilac from a very young cutting, but it is very challenging and it usually fails. You need to use a cutting that from new growth that is between 4 and 6 inches in length, no more. Dip the fresh-cut end in water and then rooting hormones; then plant in a hole with moist potting soil If it takes, roots will form in 6 to 8 weeks. Grafting is much more successful than propagation by cuttings.

We have 4 very large bushes

We have 4 very large bushes of lilacs at our new house in Manitoba that we just moved into and I just noticed blooms(June 20) but they are very sparse and small. There seems to be a lot of brown hardened blooms (are these old blooms from this year or pevious years) and there is quite a few empty holes with just branches, no leaves. What is the best way for me to get these big and healthy again?

Barring any diseases, such as

Barring any diseases, such as blight, your lilacs may just need rejuvenative pruning. When lilacs get older, they may stop leafing out along the lower branches, and they flower less vigorously, and usually only at the top of the bush. Many lilacs bloom best on wood that is about 3 to 5 years old.

To rejuvenate an old lilac, to renew its form and encourage flowering, you can prune all stems in late winter, when the plant is dormant, down to about 6 or 8 inches high. This will encourage new shoots to develop during the growing season. The next late winter, select a few large, healthy stems and prune out the rest. For the stems that remain, cut back to a bud to encourage branching. With this drastic method, you may not get flowers until two or three years later.

Another way to rejuvenate an old lilac, and one that is easier on the plant but takes longer, is that first late winter, remove about a third of the old stems (to ground level). The next late winter, remove about half of the remaining old stems, and a little of the new growth. Keep some strong stems of the new growth. The third late winter, remove the remaining old growth, and thin out the new growth. With this method, you might have a few flowers the first two years, and then the plant should start flowering fully the third year.

In both methods, once the plant is re-established, prune out a bit of the old growth every 3 to 5 years, in spring after flowers have faded, to keep it productive. (Lilacs bloom on old wood, so are usually pruned for maintenance just after flowering in spring, so that the next year's flowers aren't removed.)

I live in NL Canada and I

I live in NL Canada and I planted a Lilac tree 3-4 years ago but its only about 2-3 feet tall and has never bloomed but it has lots of healthy green leaves, is there something I am doing wrong

You'll see similar comments

You'll see similar comments on these pages from fellow lilac lovers. Common reasons for lack of bloom: 1. Pruning at the wrong time since lilacs bloom on old wood. 2. Providing less than 6 hours of full sunlight in present location. 3. Using fertilizer (don't). If you feed your lilacs, particularly with a fertilizer that has a lot of nitrogen, you will get a large, lush plant but few if any blooms. 4. Wrong soil pH. Lilacs prefer slightly alkaline soil (pH 6-7). Finally, note that most lilacs should start blooming after three or four years but some may take as long as six or seven!

I live on the west coast of

I live on the west coast of NL it took my lilacs 4 years for the first bloom, there is 1 big Custer and still there. 1 more year for you to wait.

After my Lilac bush is

After my Lilac bush is finished blooming ( which is so beautiful), and now it is showing new little seeds or is that new blooms ready to open soon? What do I do with the dead heads around the new growth on the head?

It is a good practice to

It is a good practice to remove the brown dried flowers from your lilac bush. This will keep the lilac from growing seeds and encourages production of new buds for next year. The new buds will develop during the summer.

I received a 'Miss Kim' Lilac

I received a 'Miss Kim' Lilac for Mother's Day. It was already in full leaf and I haven' been able to transplant,yet. Now, after reading some of the comments and questions I find I shouldn't transplant until Fall. However, even though the pot is in full sun and has been watered, we have had some very cold weather. Now, the leaves are curling. I would had to lose this plant as it was a gift from my husband. What should I do? I am a little North of Couer d' Alene, Idaho

'Miss Kim' i prone to leaf

'Miss Kim' i prone to leaf curl. Leaves can curl from too much water or dry soil. Check the soil to make sure it's moist but not soaking wet. How big is the pot? The roots may be crowded. Check the root ball. You may need to put it in a bigger container with some new fresh soil.

I have three lilac bushes, 1

I have three lilac bushes, 1 never blooms but is in the shade, I plan on moving it, 2 are in fantastic sunshine and bloom beautifully except this year. My oldest of the 2 did nothing this year. No leaves, no blooms, it looks dead! I'm heart broken. the tree is about 8 years old and I cant think of anything drastic that may have happened to it. I'm hoping its not dead.

I recently bought a lilac

I recently bought a lilac plant from a whole foods, probably around April. The plant was so pretty but then I planted it in the ground and it slowly died. I live in Massachusetts I don't know if I did anything wrong? Can someone help? All the flowers have been dried up for about a little over a month now (it's only June) and all the leaves are curled in. I'm very saddned because lilac bushes are so pretty!

If the leaves are green your

If the leaves are green your plant is not dead. It's normal for the flowers to fade at the end of May in your area. Remove the dried flowers and make sure that the soil is moist, not dry or too wet. Does your lilac get enough sun?

I acquired 3 Lilac bushes in

I acquired 3 Lilac bushes in their original plastic pots. They are about 3' high. I missed the spring planting season. How can I keep them alive until the fall planting season (especially if they outgrow their pots)? Should I feed them over the summer? I am a first timer with Lilac bushes.

Add less than a handful of

Add less than a handful of 10-10-10 fertilizer to each pot and later in the summer add a handful of ground lime. Make sure the lilacs are in the sun and well watered. If the plants seem to do well in the pots there is no need to repot.

Will lilacs grow and bloom in

Will lilacs grow and bloom in an island in the Caribbean?

Lilacs don't thrive in warm

Lilacs don't thrive in warm climates. It's not just the Sun; lilacs need a long period of winter chill in order to bloom well. ‘Blue Skies' and 'Exel' are lo-chill varieties some readers have tried but they probably will not do well on your island.

I have a lilac bush and there

I have a lilac bush and there is some flowers on there , but there is a lot of green branches without flowers ...should I prune these branches down ?

Anytime you prune a lilac you

Anytime you prune a lilac you may loose some of the new buds for next year. If the lilac is not too big don't prune this year. Wait and see if the branches have flowers next year and if it needs pruning do it right after the blooms fade.

We are trying to save a lilac

We are trying to save a lilac removed in full bloom from the neighbour's dumpster. We had to transplant it quickly, late at night and without much prep. Some branches were quite scraped. The tree is about 8 ft wide and 12 ft high and quite old. Any chance it will make it? What can we do to help? It's in full sun. We had no time for compost or fertilizer yet. Just planted and watered heavily, and tethered to fence.

This is a bad time to

This is a bad time to transplant. Lilacs transplant well IF they are dormant. The best time is early spring before the bush they come into leaf. The next best time is in the fall after the leaves have dropped. The other big question is whether you had all of the root ball. They have huge root systems. Water them in completely and see how it goes.

Are lilacs pet friendly?

Are lilacs pet friendly?

Want lilac in florida what

Want lilac in florida what should I do to make sure it survives full Sun or shade have many large oak trees on my property will it grow under them

To be frank, the lilac

To be frank, the lilac (syringa) doesn't thrive in Florida. It's not just the Sun; lilacs need a long period of winter chill in order to bloom well. ‘Blue Skies' is a lo-chill variety some readers have tried; it will be an experiment!

I live in Germany & have 2

I live in Germany & have 2 trees which must be taken down. Can I take a cutting & expect it to survive? How do I get it to grow roots?

I have a huge I

I have a huge I planted a slip at my lake grew but no blooms for the first 10 years

we have a 2 yr old lilac

we have a 2 yr old lilac plant which has done well planted on the south side of the house but wife wants it transplanted to the back yard where it be seen better. What's the best time of yr to do it. The flowers are gone and it looks healthy.

Transplant lilacs when they

Transplant lilacs when they are dormant (not coming into leaf.) The best timing is early next spring before the plant leafs out. Or, you could try fall after all the leaves are dropped. Dig them up on a cloudy, cool day and toward evening. Be sure to get the full root system and don't plant too deep. Water them in well with a water-soluble fertilizer.

My dwarf lilac is failing (in

My dwarf lilac is failing (in NY). 'twas once a beautiful healthy bush but now 'taint. Many branches have become brittle while others are okay. Extensively covered with lichen. It sits in a bed of pakasandra (sp?). Can/should I prune the dead or dying or is this a poor soil issue? Some beautiful blooms appear and even on some of the dying branches. HELP!

The lichen will not damage

The lichen will not damage the bush, but it usually indicates that the plant is older (because it takes a while for lichen to grow). It may be that your lilac is suffering from a disease, such as the fungal disease called Botryosphaeria canker. You might take a sample of an affected branch to your county's Cooperative Extension for diagnosis. Otherwise, you could prune out the dead or dying areas to try to prevent any possible disease from spreading: Every one or two years, prune out about 1/3 of the old wood just after the lilac flowers. Be sure to sterilize your pruning tool with rubbing alcohol after each cut to avoid spreading any disease.

Make sure that your lilac has plenty of drainage and full sun, and that there is no injury along the trunk or branches (such as from a weed whacker).

I have had my lilacs for many

I have had my lilacs for many years. Over 5 or so years all 3 of my flowers have turned white. Why is this happening? And is there anything that I can do to turn them purple again?

A purple lilac variety may

A purple lilac variety may have been grafted onto white rootstock and sold as a purple lilac. Over time the white flowers from the mohter plant appear.
Sometimes the flower color changes a bit when the soil pH is too low or high. Lilacs need 6.0 to 7.5 pH. Test your soil and amend accordingly.

We have a lilac bush that is

We have a lilac bush that is about 5 years old. We live in NY and every spring it is loaded with blooms, but they are can't even see them. They open up but don't look like much. The bush has grown nicely since planted and it is lush with leaves. It gets at least 5 hours of morning sun. It is planted on the down side of a huge pine tree in the path of heavy rain run off, but it doesn't sit in water. Any ideas why the blooms are so skimpy?

Too much nitrogen promotes

Too much nitrogen promotes leaf growth over blossoms. The plant might be planted too deeply. Or, the cultivar that you have is not totally hardy to your area. Weather can also be a factor. But perhaps the most likely possibility is that it is not getting enough sunlight; at least 6 hours of sun (8 hours even better) is needed for a good floral display. Lilacs in partial shade may do OK if pruned so that the sun can penetrate the center of the plant. However, if too little sunlight is the culprit, you might consider transplanting the lilac to a site in full sun.

My Lilac was a gift 4 years

My Lilac was a gift 4 years earlier, I transplanted it this spring due to damage @ the base w/much of it dead. The main branch was moved to a sloped area which gets sun/shade. I went on vacation, there was considerable rain, when I returned, leaves were curled, it is still alive tho', I was told it might be infested w/aphids, I sprayed w/Neam's Oil. I'd be sorry to lose this as it was a gift from my daughter. Should I cut it back, transplant it, need help here!

Don't prune or transplant

Don't prune or transplant now. Let the lilac adjust to its new spot. Check for bugs and spray again if needed. The lilac is a hardy plant and will survive if it wasn't damaged too badly.

Hello! I just planted a Miss

Hello! I just planted a Miss Canada lilac from a 2 gallon bucket to the ground yesterday, and today it is drooping and the blossoms on it are dying. I am worried I shocked it too much and it may die. Any suggestions as to how to keep it going strong? It rained heavily last night during a thunderstorm but I haven't watered it since for fear of too much water. I have it 4 feet from my deck in a sunny location next to a mulched walkway. I am located in Northwestern PA.

I have a Lilac bush that has

I have a Lilac bush that has been planted for about 6 years, all that grows on it is leaves. It's always had 2 suckers and they are only about 2 ft.tall. Is there something I need to do with the soil to help it grow more suckers and flowers?

Have you had any luck finding

Have you had any luck finding an answer? I too have a beautiful Miss Kim lilac about 3 years old, lots of healthy leaves but no buds or blooms....maybe the soil is too acid?

Lack of blooms is usually

Lack of blooms is usually related to lack of sunlight or using nitrogen fertilizer (don't). Another common reason is pruning at the wrong time. If you prune in July or later, you are cutting off next season's flower buds. Just stop pruning. We're not sure where you live, but winterkill of flower buds could be another reason; if so, you need milder winters or a heartier lilac. Finally, it is important that lilacs aren't planted too deeply. The top of the roots should be slightly exposed; pull back the soil if needed.

Yes, it is also possible that

Yes, it is also possible that you don't have the right soil pH. Lilacs do not like acid soil. Get it tested. Call your county cooperative extension.

If your lilacs are in full

If your lilacs are in full sun and aren't overfertilized, they should flower. To shock your lilac into flowering next season, try driving a spade into the soil around the base of the plants to cut off some of the roots, but not all. Avoid any lawn fertilizer near the root zone. Do not prune. If they don't grow next year, then they need to be in a sunnier spot. Also: If you are pruning too late in the season, they will not bloom.

I have a 3 year old lilac

I have a 3 year old lilac that has bloomed well in the past but only has two blooms this year. May I assume the same advice will apply? I also realize that I need to keep the peeing dog away. Thanks.

Hello! I recently moved into

Hello! I recently moved into a house on Cape Cod. The yard has not been maintained and I just noticed that we have two lilacs on the property. I almost missed them because they are really tall and very skinny! One of them only has one branch and is about 9 feet tall with 3 flowers at the very top!! Should I trim the one branch to eye level like you suggested? Is there any way I can get it to spread its wings, so to speak? thanks for any help!

You need to prune your lilacs

You need to prune your lilacs drastically, to eye level or even lower. After you cut them down you'll get lots of new shoots and these will develop into new flowering branches. You may not have any flowers next spring but the reward will be great the following years.


we would like to cut the flowers and enjoy them inside the home, but they very quickly look like they are dehydrated and droop. what can we do /or add to the water in the vase to allow us to keep them more than just overnight.

Here are a few tips. Pick

Here are a few tips. Pick lilacs when the flower cluster is half open. Use pruners or clippers to cut the stem a couple of inches up the center. Put the lilacs in a bucket with cool water covering the stems and leaves all the way up to the flowers. After a few hours arrange the lilacs in a vase and keep them out of direct sunlight.

Lilac in GA

I grew up with lilacs in the yard and hoping to have that again. Will a lilac tree grow in Georgia.

Korean lilac varieties do not

Korean lilac varieties do not require the long cold periods before flowering that common lilacs do. ‘Miss Kim’ (Syringa patula) is a southern favorite that will do well in Georgia.


All of my neighbors have great lilac bushes ( I live in northern RI and have a river one house over and the river run off in back of my house). After admiring the bushes one of my neighbors gave me a cutting of the bush - a small stem with leaves and a flower at the end. How do I get it to grow roots so I can plant it outside? I currently have it in a clear vase with water in a sunny window.

No leaves on 2/3 of the canes

My Miss Kim lilac is about 4 -5 yrs old and has always bloomed well. This year 2/3 of the plant didn't leaf or bloom but there is a small bud on the end of each cane ( branch). Are they dead or dying? What should I do?

I'm in a similar situation as

I'm in a similar situation as this poster.

I have Korean lilacs that have performed beautifully the last 5-6 Springs. Now, all of a sudden, they are not doing so well. There's about 1/3 of the blooms, they are not leafing out as they should, and I have buds but no flowers. I've check for dead wood - although there is some, it's very minimal.

I have pruned sparingly in the past after flowering, but I did not do so last year. We had drought conditions last summer, a late & wet spring, and some late frost. We haven't mulched but my hubby did build up some soil around the base of the foundation, and this is a foundation shrub.

My neighbor's Korean lilacs did beautifully this year, and she has the exact same plants from the same nursery with the same exposure and similar heavy clay soil conditions.

I intend to cut out dead wood and prune back all flowers and buds as recommended, plus fertilize which I also haven't done this year. I'm hopeful that will help. However, I am concerned because of the lack of leafing. Is something else going on?

Any advice, ideas or recommendations are welcome.

Thank you.

White lilac tree

I live in Vancouver Washington and I was given a WHITE lilac tree. It is very puny, about 4-5 ft. tall. It has been in a large pot for about 3-4 years. Lots of mildew & few blooms. It has many suckers around the bottom that have come up.
I want to put it into the ground. Please, any suggestions > I am a novice gardener.

Planting lilac

I am gonna try and pot a lilac plant for indoor use for a couple years due to I love lilacs but can't plant outdoors in my apt complex.. Any suggestions??

Miss Kim's blooms are pale this year.

Usually our Mss Kim has gorgeously colored fragrant flowers, but this year although prolific as usual, they are very pale in color? Lack of water? Too much fertilizer from the lawn it borders? The whole bush is pale and only the north side borders the lawn. Missing a nutrient? Is it just getting old? I planted it about 13 years ago. I would welcome any ideas.


I live on the Oregon coast (zone 8a I believe) very near the ocean. I got a nice sized Ludwig Spaeth Lilac in 2.5 gallon container. It has been planted for almost 2 months and doing great and now this week it looks wilted. It's all droopy and all the new leaf buds have turned brown. It gets full sun. We have not had rain for two weeks so I've been watering every other day. I was told here the windy salt air dries out plants and they need more water. I may have over watered it? I'm hoping that's it and it will recover. All my neighbors have lilacs in full bloom right now. I wasn't expecting blooms, but I don't want to kill it. thanks.

lilac in pot

Is it draining properly? I have an all-container garden and struggle to learn what needs just how much water/drainage. Drainage usually fixes my problems. I mix in some vermiculite and/or sand to lighten it up some and make sure the container has holes in the bottom. Watering without a mess gets tricky, but i've found a nice middle ground.

planted in the ground.

sorry, it is planted in the ground. I only mentioned the pot to indicate how large of a plant it was when I got it. It has been planted in the ground for two months. thanks! sorry about that confusion.

My mom gave me a single shoot from my grandma's lilac...

Last year I thought I might have killed it because it did nothing, but this year it leafed out and had a bloom. It is still just a single shoot though. Is there anything I can do to encourage it to spread. I live in Oklahoma.

Just remove the spent blossom

Just remove the spent blossom and wait another year to prune. The lilac is still young and will spread on its own.

lilac (start)

I ordered these about 6 months ago and just recieved them. I want to plant them at my mothers grave. But they are so small, will it hurt to leave them in pots in the house till next spring when they are bigger? They are dwarfs.

Yes, you can leave the lilacs

Yes, you can leave the lilacs in the pots. Keep them outside in full sun during the summer. Make sure to water them so that they don't dry out. Add a little fertilizer (10-10-10) to the pots. If they have grown bigger you can plant them in the fall.


I planted a lilac in Indiana that I bought from a nursery in Ohio 3 years ago in June. The last two years it has been covered in buds but they never actually bloom. I thought last year it was because we had a freeze after it budded but this year all we had was a little frost.

The freeze last year probably

The freeze last year probably killed your buds. The frost this year may have delayed the blooms and you may still get some blooms when you have a nice stretch of warm weather.

One flower.?

I live in Western Massachusetts, ideal weather for lilac trees.
Four years ago, I planted a fairly good sized tree...and since then, it hasn't bloomed.
So, you can imagine my surprise and delight, when I checked it today, and found 'ONE' single bloom.????.
It is covered with healthy leaves, and has grown about three foot since I planted it.

True mystery...anyone know what's going on.?

one flower

I was told when i planted my first lilac bush they dont flower for the first 3yrs. they flower on old wood and it takes a few years to establish some old wood. That is why you have one bloom in yr.4, as i did.Read up on how to trim lilac bushes only apply it to your one old wood stem.Keep repeating every year until your bush gets established.HAPPY GARDENING!

LOTS of full grown suckers

My lilac bush has probably 20 to 30 suckers that have grown. Should I cut some back? I live in Missouri. It's also so tall the limbs aren't straight up. Is there a way to attach a photo on here?

You need to cut some or all

You need to cut some or all of the suckers out and prune some of the limbs by about half to maintain a good shape. We recommend to prune 1/3 of the bush each year to still have some flowers in the spring and to bring the bush to a manageable size. Prune right after the flowers fade this spring.

Less Blossoms each year

Have an old lilac bush (6 to 7 feet tall)that seems to have less blossoms each year. Should it be trimmed down and if so how much and when?

Prune the bush after this

Prune the bush after this year's flowers have faded. Cut about 1/3 of the shrub's stems down to about 3-4 feet. That will keep the plant rejuvenated. Next year cut another 1/3 of the stems and keep doing this each year to keep the bush flourishing and manageable.


My mother gave me sappling about 8 years ago. Two years ago, it finally had 3 blossoms on it. Then, it did not do anything until this year and boy oh boy do i have blossoms!!! My questions are why did it take so long to blosson and can I cut them to enjoy them inside?

Thank you,

Sometimes it takes a lilac

Sometimes it takes a lilac bush a few years to establish and start producing lots of flowers. And yes, do cut the flowers and enjoy them inside.

lilac blooming time

In the spring, which comes first the leaves or the blossoms? I live in Georgia and am hoping for a bloom on the lilac I planted 2 years ago. Right now, end of April, it has all leafed out.

Leaves come first. If you

Leaves come first. If you don't see buds yet you may have to wait another year before you see any flowers. Sometimes it takes a lilac a few years to get established.

Will suckers prevent my grass from growing?

I have a suckering lilac in a large garden and I want to keep the lilac but remove the rest of the garden and put in grass all around it. I figured that to get the soil primed for grass growth I would dig up the soil all around the lilac. I have realized that I'm cutting a bunch of roots from the lilac bush, is this OK? Also, if I plant the grass will it help prevent suckers from sprouting up to the surface? Or will the suckers and the intense root system prevent my grass from growing? Many thanks.

Leave a small area around the

Leave a small area around the lilac without grass. Add mulch to this section to keep moisture in the soil and help keep the suckers from growing. It will also make it easier to mow the lawn around the lilac.

HELP! When to Transplant?

Hi! I have a lilac bush that is about 4 years old & hasn't ever bloomed. I planted it when it was very small (like a stick). I read your comments above about adding Lime to the soil (which I plan to do), but I think I may need to move it to a sunnier location. Is there a best time to transplant a lilac bush (i'm in IL, south of Chicago)? What about pruning, when is the best time to do that? Also, i'm not familiar with lime. Do you have a brand or type of lime I should be looking for? Thanks for your help, much appreciated!


I also read the page above above pruning after it blooms, but if it doesn't have blooms do I prune at all and if so when & how? Thanks so much for any help i'm a new gardener & learning as I go.

Spring or fall are the best

Spring or fall are the best times to transplant trees including lilacs (fall is preferred). Lilacs don't need annual pruning. Prune lilacs after they have bloomed in late spring or just remove the spent flowers. If your lilac doesn't bloom this year you can wait to prune.
Add ground limestone or hydrated/slaked lime to your soil. Good luck!

Four years

I transplanted a sucker shoot my Mother-in-law gave me. It's about 8ft tall now & it took 4 years to get any flowers. When I saw the flowers I jumped up & down like a proud Mommy. Good luck with your transplants.

Lilac not leafing out

I planted three lilacs last fall and carefully researched the needs and requirments before planting. Two have leafed out and seem to be thriving, however, the largest of the three still hasn't started to leaf out and it is mid-April here in southern illinois. I have broken a small twig off and the plant is still green inside but it is refusing to leaf out. If it's just being slow how long could it take to show signs of life?

Assuming everything else is

Assuming everything else is equal (soil, moisture, overwinter)—and it sounds like it is, it's hard to tell how long it could take. Certainly if your other two plants and every other one that you see in town is in leaf and this one is not, consider consulting the source from which you acquired the lilacs.

do I have a lilac or not?

A friend gave me a small lilac 10 years ago. Now is a big bush wich has little black fruit like grape type. Is this a lilac plant or not?

It would help if you told us

It would help if you told us where you lived. Also, you could send a photo to us at:

scent from blooms?

I received a dwarf lilac as a house warming gift and because it was in full bloom at the time (currently) , I'm greeted with that wonderful fraquence every time I reenter my apartment. Can I expect this smell after the blossoms fall?

We also love the fragrance of

We also love the fragrance of lilacs! The fragrance is from the blooms, so you'll have to wait until next spring. To ensure you have blooms next year, be sure to prune at the right time--AFTER flowering. Lilacs bloom on old wood. The flower buds are set during the summer for flowers the following spring. Therefore, prune within six weeks after bloom so you give your lovely lilac time to grow new wood and buds for the next spring season.

Is it OK to transplant Lilacs in Spring (in New Hampshire)

We have to burn a house to the ground. There are very mature lilacs and other flowering trees around the house that will die from the fire. We were told by a local gardener that there is no way we can salvage these plantings and we should just let them burn. Our local nursery manager told us that we could move them, but there is a chance there may be some damage and that they probably will not bloom this summer. I think its worth it to try to save them? What do you advise? Is the gardener that told us she wont move them wrong?

Based on what you have told

Based on what you have told us, you could try digging up the lilacs and transplanting. If they are large and old, it may be difficult; transplanting could remove part of the root system which is stressful to the plant. However, it can be done with care. Be aware that it may also take 1 to 3 years for it to recover and bloom. If you do it, the timing must be right: when they are dormant in early spring BEFORE the plant leafs out. In general, small lilacs do transplant well as long as they are not coming into leaf. We hope this helps.

I had two "Miss Kim Lilac

I had two "Miss Kim Lilac Bushes" that I had for three years and they always bloomed profusely. When we moved...I dug them up and took them to my new house. The first year after replanting..I got a few flowers on each bush. But in the last two years, I haven't had one bloom. The bushes are healthy, get the right amount of sunlight and the bushes are only 6 years old. I wonder if moving them, did something to cause them not to bloom. I wish you the best of luck with your lilacs.

Starting Lilacs in Pots

I want to start my new lilac suckers in pots to keep on my deck until they are mature enough to plant in the ground (probably 6-12 mos). What size pots, what medium, and what ammendments if any do you recommend? I live in zone 6. Thanks.

Plant the suckers in 1 gallon

Plant the suckers in 1 gallon pots. Use a good potting mix and keep the soil moist. You can add a root stimulator but often the suckers will start growing without any help. Good luck!

Krasavitsa Moskvy Lilac - Syringa - Beauty of Moscow

Just bought this plant today online and can't wait to get it. It is end of March and we live in Missouri. The plant will come in 2x3" pot, very small. I bought 2 of them. Can I plant them together in one big pot? Can I keep them in the pot until they grow taller- a few years? Should I use fertilizer? Thank you

A gem of a lilac! Ideally,

A gem of a lilac! Ideally, lilacs prefer to be planted outside to truly thrive. They can grow in pots though. In terms of fertilizer: do not overdo it. A little phosphorus is fine but nitrogen feeds foliage instead of flowers. I am unclear as to the size of your lilac but can tell you that a 4-inch container is good for starting a cutting (one per pot) and they you'd want to move to a 1-gallon container by late summer. Hope this helps.

No Blooms??

I have had my (2) Lilac bushes for 4 yrs now and they have not bloomed at all. I planted them when they were very small and now they are about 3' high with beautiful green leaves, but no Lilacs. I need to know what to do with them to get them to bloom.

See some of the advice above

See some of the advice above and also the questions and answers below. It may take a few years for a young lilac bush to bloom. Add some lime and compost to the soil this spring and make sure that the bushes get plenty of sun (afternoon sun is best). If the bushes are close to a lawn that is fertilized they may get too much nitrogen from the lawn fertilizer. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth.

lilac in zone 10b

I live in So. Cal, Zone 10b. Are there any lilac varieties that can do well in this climate? If not, I am looking for a purple or blue fragrant flowering plant or bush. Do you have any suggestions?

Zone 10 Lilac, So. Ca.

Yes there are...I don't know which variety I had but it was a beautiful, large, and fragrant bush in lavender. I lived in Rosemead, Ca, just outside of LA.

lilacs for warm climates

Some lilacs (genus Syringa) are hardy to USDA Zones 8 or 9, but we haven't found any information that indicates that these would flourish in Zone 10. We suppose that it might be possible for lilacs hardy to Zone 9 to get by in a protected area of Zone 10, given the right conditions. However, we'd suggest that you contact your county's Cooperative Extension to find out if there are certain cultivars that can survive in your area.

As an alternative, there is a bush called "California lilac," which is actually a different genus called "Ceanothus." These have fragrant flowers which resemble those of Syringa lilacs. There are a few species and cultivars of Ceanothus available that do fine in Zone 10. The Cooperative Extension or a local nursery should be able to recommend varieties that will thrive in your area.

To find contact information for your Cooperative Extension, see:

Lilacs in zone 10b

When I lived in the north bay area, north of San Francisco, I was told we need to put a bag of ice at the base of the lilac in the winter at least once, since it needs a cold season to bloom properly. I did this and my bush flowered fine.

Deer Resistant?

My neighbor just gave me two bareroot shoots from a plant he divided. Are lilacs deer resistant or should I plant them in a fenced area?

Though NO plant is truly

Though NO plant is truly deer-resistant, lilacs fall into the "Seldom Severely Damaged" camp so they're a good choice. As far as a fence goes: Deer will usually chose a different plant to eat, however, all bets are off in a very severe winter so it depends on your climate.

no leaves

my lilac bush lost all its leaves. Is it ok

You didn't mention where

You didn't mention where you're from, but lilacs will drop leaves in the fall and leaf out in the spring. This is normal.

living in texas

Hi, i live in azle texas, i have a northern lilac bush that looks fine, but has not bloomed, this is the 3 year. when can i expect it to bloom, or is it not going to do to the fact that this is really a plant for the northern United States?

Northern lilacs need a long

Northern lilacs need a long period of winter chill in order to bloom well. Your area may not have enough cold days.
There are some lilac varieties that may bloom in Texas. ‘Blue Skies', ’Angel White’, 'Lavender Lady', ‘Superba’ and ‘Miss Kim’ are just a few. Search for low-chill lilacs to find mail-order sources.

Dwarf Tinkerbell lilac

I ordered one of these plants, received it about a month ago (mid October). It has two shoots off the main stem, each with two leaves and tiny buds in the "joint" It shows no sign of preparing to's in a container, watered from the base, medium sun. How long before I'll see signs of blooms?

Tinkerbelle lilac

The 'Tinkerbelle' lilac is bred to be hardy from Zones 3 to 7. It blooms in mid- to late spring. Although a dwarf, it reaches about 4 to 6 feet high at maturity, with a similar width. If you are planning to wait a few years before planting the lilac in your yard, make sure that you provide a large container for the growing lilac.

What year the lilac will start to bloom will depend on the age of the plant, as well as other factors, such as climate, cultural conditions (soil, light, water, temperature), pests/diseases, etc. You might ask the nursery from which you ordered the lilac as to what age the plant was when it was sent in October, and if they expect it to bloom starting next spring, or if it needs to age a year or so before it is ready to flower. Some lilacs will not start blooming until they are about 3 to 8 years old.

winter storing

I bought 10 close out lilac of all kinds little kim,charles joly,don wyman and more can I leave them in the pots and outside with just some mulch around them ? Our what is the best way to keep them till I can plabt them ?

Leave the lilacs outside.

Leave the lilacs outside. Depending how severe your winters are you may need to add some mulch around the pots. You can also dig holes or a trench and put the pots in the ground. Cover with soil and let go dormant. In the spring you can remove the pots and plant the lilacs in permanent spots.

Syringa plant indoors for winter.

I have a new lilac plant and I have it in a pot because I plan on moving soon and didn't want to leave it behind. Is it ok to bring it indoors for the winter or does it need to be outdoors during the winter months? Thank you, Carrie M.

If it is a lilac variety that

If it is a lilac variety that is cold hardy it will need to be stored in a cool place (unheated garage is perfect). You can also dig a hole in the ground in a protected area of your yard and place the pot in the hole and cover it with mulch.

Non blooming lilac

I have lilac that is about 7 years old, beautiful leaves but has never bloomed. I read two suggestions, wood ash and lime. Which is better and what time of year to treat.

Add some lime to the soil

Add some lime to the soil around the lilac now and then again in the spring. Also make sure that the bush gets plenty of afternoon sun. If the lilac is located in a lawn area that is fertilized the roots may get too much nitrogen which promotes leaf growth.

hydrangeas close to lawn

I have my lilacs close to my lawn area and after reading your comment I suppose they are only doing leaves instead of blooms because of the lawn fertilizing How should I combat that for the lilac's sake- add lime? no fertilizing now (winter) a handful of 10-10-10 for lilacs?

Purple lilac tree

Hi, I had to move my lilac tree a yr ago and all the leaves fell off. It's just got twigs now that look dead, never even had any shoots this yr but I refuse to dig it up now as keep hoping it will come back next spring. It's still about 6" tall. Any ideas anyone. Will it come back!! I will be gutted if it dies as planted it when I lost my dog.

Don't give up. Wait for

Don't give up. Wait for spring and also look for shoots coming up from the soil around the stem.

Blooming in late September?

I live in Missouri and my lilac just started blooming. Is that normal? We've had a terrible drought this summer and hardly any winter.

I believe there are some

I believe there are some varieties of lilacs that will bloom a second-time around in September. If you had a wet spell followed by a heat wave, perhaps that could also spark some blooms.

black leaves on new lilac

Will magneseum take care of this problem also.....I know we are watering enough.

If you have dark black

If you have dark black streaks on a young lilac, then you probably have lilac bacterial blight. It overwintered on the wood 1. Prune and burn all infected parts asap. 2. Provide good air circulation; make sure the leaves don't rub against another plant. 3. Do NOT fertilize. High nitrogen in young plants favors disease development. 4. In early spring, spray copper sulfate. 5. Purchase blight-resistant varieties.

White foam running down main branch

What is the white foam running down the main branch. It's attracting bees, ants, wasps, moths,etc.?

White foam

Look close to see if there are tiny insects in the "foam". It can be something called cottony aphids. Mix 20 drops of citrus oil in 2 cups of water and spray the aphids. It may also be scale insects that can be treated with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap spray.

lilac bush dying?

hi there.we have an approx. 10 foot lilac bush in our backyard that gets full sun. No idea how old it is. We've lived here for 2.5 years and it's always been pretty sparse looking. there are few branches and even fewer with leaves. Right now the top foot is full of lush green leaves, the middle has light green-yellow leaves that are turning brown and falling off very easily. The bottom portion has a few healthier leaves. i noticed that there where several large branches from the ground that were completely dead so started to cut them back and they pull right out of the ground! When it does bloom it only has maybe 12 flowers and they don't last long. What should we do? It's the end of August and has been a very hot summer. Thanks in advance!

Lilac bush

Your lilac bush will benefit from some pruning. You can cut the entire bush back to about a foot tall in the early spring before new growth starts. This will rejuvenate an old/overgrown lilac, but it will not bloom until the following year. Or, you can try the 3-year plan to keep some blooms going. Take out a third of the bush each year by cutting the large branches to the base of the plant. Be sure to prune in early spring before new growth appears.

take a 10 ft lilac bush down

take a 10 ft lilac bush down to 1 foot? do i understand that correctly? just because it seems really drastic. i want to be sure. and what time of year is best to do that?

It is drastic but lilacs are

It is drastic but lilacs are very hardy. See our pruning tips above. A less drastic method is to prune 1/3 of the bush in early spring. The following spring cut back another 1/3 and prune the last 1/3 the third spring. See our pruning pointers above.

Lilac leaves turning brown and curling inward

In May we planted three lilac bushes on the west side of our house, usually gets about 6 to 8 hours of sun. They seemed to be doing fine until about a month ago, and I have noticed that some of the branches appear dead and are not bearing any leaves. Also, some of the branches have leaves that are browning around the edges and curling inward. We are in Columbus Ohio, and I am not sure when I am watering too much or when I need to water more frequently. Is it me or did we get unhealthy plants?

Lilac leaves

Lilacs are usually not fuzzy about the soil but you may be lacking magnesium that they need (symptoms are brown curled leaves). Or you may not be watering enough. During dry hot weather the bushes need frequent deep waterings. Use a hose and soak the soil around the bushes a couple of times a week.


I live in Pennsylvania, I have few Lilac's about 4 years old, first time bloomed this summer but I have noticed white powdery material around the base/stems,some of the brances have dried up too.Do you think this is fungal infection? any remedies?

If it's a white, moldy look,

If it's a white, moldy look, then it's powdery mildew. Don't worry. This is common on lilacs and often arrives in late July or August. It doesn't harm the plants and it will be gone when the leaves drop after a few frosts. Next year: To keep under control, spray before the disease shows up. (Consult with your local garden center on sprays.) In terms of the branches: Are they dead? Cut the old, dead branches out completely back to the ground. This will also help with the mildew by improving air circulation.

Wilting leaves ...

I received a healthy lilac bush for a gift. It was doing fine for a week or two in a container. After planting, almost immediately the leaves started drooping and have continued to get worse. It's super hot and dry right now, and I've been trying to balance watering enough w/not watering too much. But it's not looking good.

Your lilac is probably

Your lilac is probably experiencing transplant shock (lilacs are best planted when they are dormant). To help your plant, keep watering when the soil gets dry (not too wet, not too dry); make sure that it isn’t planted too deeply; and provide good drainage. Water from the base; water will burn leaves in hot, sunny weather. Do not fertilize the first year. Provide light shade during the hot weather the first year so that the plant won’t lose as much water as its roots establish themselves; you can create shade by securing burlap to stakes and setting these temporary walls on sunny sides of the plant. Burlap allows some sunlight to penetrate so that the leaves can make food, but the light shade helps to reduce evaporation.

Dwarf Lilac

I live in Chicago and would like to plant a lilac bush in a raised flower bed under a window. what variety is best as to not grow too tall that it obscures the front window of our house?

Dwarf Lilac

Syringa 'Josee' is a dwarf (grows to max. 6 feet high) that blooms in the spring and reblooms later in the summer. It's hardy in Zones 4-8. Another repeat blooming dwarf variety is fragrant Syringa 'Bloomerang'.

brown leaves

I planted lilac 10yrs.ago grows great.this July started wilting in spots now those leaves are brown,should i cut the branches down? live in new jersey had alot of high temps in july also same thing happen this time last year.

Brown leaves

I too have the same brown leaf issue in coastal South Carolina. My lilacs are not in the ground. They are in a large jack daniels barrel and though some of the older canes have a few wilted leaves, the plant is still sprouting new canes and the old canes show new leaf buds. My parents brought these lilacs from Bucks County, Pa to Richmond, Va in the late 70's and I brought some to South Carolina when I moved from Richmond. Excited about new canes but not sure what to do (if anything) about the wilting. Been humid, hot, and lots of summer storms here this season. I'm going to try to pull the barrel under the porch during next few rains to try to dry the moisture-heavy soil a bit and just put it out in full sun when not raining. Should I cut old canes or just let it roll?

Brown leaves

In wet weather lilacs get a fungal disease that causes the leaves to wilt and turn brown. The lilac will recover from this when the weather improves. Let the soil dry out. You may want to prune some of the old canes to encourage new growth.

brown leaves

Hot weather can cause brown leaves. Water the lilac deeply once a week and add 1/2 cup of lime around the base of the tree to sweeten the soil.You can prune some of the old branches. This will encourage new growth.

lilacs blooming again

The lilacs along my back fence were full of blooms in May. It is August and I see new blooms! Why? Should I do something? They came with the house and I've never grown them before.

It's most likely the type of

It's most likely the type of lilac plant you have! Some late season bloomers include 'Miss Canada' and 'Donald Wyman.'

We say, enjoy the beauty before fall arrives!

non blooming lilacs.

My lilac bush @ least 6 years old. Has never bloomed. About 7 feet tall. It has never been pruned. It is mid August. Can I prune it now? Where do I get this "ash" you wrote about. There are several suckers. Should I leave them? Bush is close to corner of house by the garage. Is this OK?

Make sure your plant is

Make sure your plant is receiving lots of sun. We recommend pruning in in spring.

Any of the suggested tips in the 'Pruning' section above will be helpful in trying to get your plant to successfully bloom. You may want to start fresh by cutting down the plant to about 6 inches in height and "start over." However, this will also take a few years of patience while waiting for blooms.

Cutting lilacs down

Our lilacs are 5-7ft high and I want to cut them much lower and promote more growth next year. My wife insists that the "insides" are all just wirey and says we should just cut them down and replant new. I say cut them low and they'll regrow anyway. Are EITHER of us right?

I hope it's OK with your wife

I hope it's OK with your wife is we say that you are right! Lilacs are very hardy and they regrow (as long as they're not dead). You can either: 1. Cut the bush back to short stubs (about 6 inches long) in the early spring before new growth. It will rejuvenate an old/overgrown lilac, but it not bloom until the next year. 2. OR, try the 3-year plan to keep some blooms going. Take out a third of the volume each year by cutting the large branches to the base of the plant. Be sure to prune in early spring before new growth.

my early lilac bush

I think my husband was to heavy on the weed killer a year ago and it is now affecting my lilacs and everything i planted. They started out with buds in early spring but then shriveled up. i have nothing! there is still green IN the branch when i cut on off. can i cut the entire bush down and give it a fresh start. it is about 15 years old and big. arghhh i want to save it somehow. help!!

The lilac that has been

The lilac that has been affected probably will recover eventually. Be sure to prune the lilacs in the spring, right after flowering (or shriveled up buds!). If you wish to rejuvenate an old lilac, we'd advise a three-year plan. Cut out a third of the branches to the base each year.

cutleaf lilac

i live in Oklahoma, and have two cutleaf lilacs growing rather postive, but with this heat and drought i am wondering if they will surviv e, even with regular watering, temps reach around a 103 above

Cutleaf lilac

Cutleaf lilacs are tough and grow well in warm climates. Keep watering and your lilacs should be fine.

Rust on lilac leaves

I live in northern Ca. and I received a lilac bush as a gift. It is still in a pot and seemed to be doing great until our 105 degree weather hit for about 10 days. I did put some lime in it last fall but now I am seeming what looks like rust on the leaves. Could you please tell me what causes this?

There is a mite that produces

There is a mite that produces a slightly rusty color on the leaves and may cause some leaf rolling. For control, use Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insect Control. Perhaps bring a sample to your local garden center or cooperative extension for a diagnosis. Here are other common lilac diseases:

miss kim lilac bush

I bought a miss kim lilac bush from a local garden centre here in Calgary 5 days ago, I transplanted it to the ground and have been watering it quite a bit. It is developing yellow tips on the leaves and spreading to the rest of the leaf, it actually looks like it is dying. We are having a heat wave here with no rain, what do you suggest??

Although yellowing leaves can

Although yellowing leaves can be a sign of one of several problems, our best guess would be overwatering. Too much water can rot lilac roots, which in turn causes yellowing leaves. In general, lilacs don’t do well in wet areas.
When planting a lilac, make sure that the area has good drainage, air circulation, and sunlight. Water the lilac immediately after planting, and then 2 to 3 times per week for the first month. After that, provide about 1 inch [about 2.5 cm] of water per week (just one deep soak once per week is good, to reach the lilac’s deep roots). Water a little more during hot weather.

A very old lilac

We have a very old lilac and it's main stem is on it's side and others are coming out of it. It has one other main stem about 8 inches away. Almost like two plants. They reach up to just under the second story window in the dining room. It looks like it was chopped down at one time to about 4 feet, then all the rest of the growth on top of that. How would you prune it since it is already July 4th? Is it too late to prune this year to still have flowers for next year? It is my mother-in-laws and she is 92. She would probable get upset if it was too drastic. but whatever if it needs it.

Old Lilac Care

For your old lilac tree we suggest a three-year plan. This allows the lilac to bloom every year. In late winter of year one remove one-third of the old canes (down to the ground), remove half of the remaining old wood in year two, and the rest of the old wood in year three. Then, follow a normal pruning schedule. Every spring after bloom, remove any dead wood. Prune out the oldest canes (down to the ground). Remove the small suckers. Cut back weak branches to a strong shoot. Cut back tall canes to eye height.

Boomerang Lilac

I want to plant a lilac bush in the fall. I saw this Boomerang Lilac, blooms spring, summer, and fall. Do you give it the same care as regular Lilacs? Will it bloom soon or do I have to wait 5 years?

The "bloomerang lilac" can be

The "bloomerang lilac" can be planted like any other container-grown shrub. Lightly fertilize with organic seaweed extract, fish emulsion, or slow-release fertilizer in early spring and again after the first (mid-May) bloom. And lightly prune after each bloom. Both of these techniques will encourage more blooms. It's a dwarf shrub variety -- about 4 to 5 feet diameter -- which is helpful to reach the flowers at the top for pruning! All the best.

want to buy a lilac shrub

I live in Calgary, and want to buy a lilac shrub to replace a spruce tree we had removed. CAN I do it now (June) or should I wait until the fall? I haven't purchased one yet, so I just want to make sure the timing is right.

The best time to plant lilacs

The best time to plant lilacs is in either the spring or fall.

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

Why won't my lilac tree bloom ???


I bought a lilac tree about 6 t0 7 years ago now - a small tree - the tree was not in bloom or anything they told me it would be about 5 years or so. Well the tree has grown but still no lilacs on it. What can I do about this ?? Sometimes I wonder even if it is a lilac tree cause it won't bloom but I know it is but getting very impatient that it isn't blooming. It gets lots of sunshine and I keep the grass and weeds away from it ??

Lilac tree

I had a lilac tree that wouldn't bloom I read somewhere to use wood ash in the soil,which I did I had the most spectular blooms ever.

Why won't my lilac tree bloom ???


I bought a lilac tree about 6 t0 7 years ago now - a small tree - the tree was not in bloom or anything they told me it would be about 5 years or so. Well the tree has grown but still no lilacs on it. What can I do about this ?? Sometimes I wonder even if it is a lilac tree cause it won't bloom but I know it is but getting very impatient that it isn't blooming. It gets lots of sunshine and I keep the grass and weeds away from it ??

Lilac root systems

I want to plant lilacs between my house and my neighbor's house. She's concerned that the roots will invade the plumbing pipes that connect from her bathroom to the city lines. I didn't think that lilac root systems were deep or invasive. Do I need to be careful how close to plumbing pipes I plant the lilacs? thank you!

You are correct: Lilac roots

You are correct: Lilac roots aren't that invasive though they can ramble and lilacs need room to grow in all directions. You shouldn't have to worry about foundations or pipes. We advise folks to plant the lilacs about 12 feet or more from a house foundation if they wish to avoid worry. The roots are about one to one-half times the length of the branches. A 10-foot shrub would have roots about 15 feet in every direction.

Can I keep a lilac in a container?

Hi, I pulled out a few lilac suckers from my friend's yard and put them in a 3 gallon black plastic pot. They did fine. They have no leaves for about 2.5 feet and then the leaves on the top are about a foot high. They were two connected suckers. Only about a quarter of an inch around. There are already new suckers growing from the soil. The plant(s) seem very happy. I do not have a garden. I only have a concrete patio. Can this plant last in a pot for its life? I plan on transplanting it in the fall to a 5 gallon and then that would be about it.
Thank you!!!!

A lilac is fine in a

A lilac is fine in a container for the short-term, given plenty of water and sun. However, after a year or two, they'll get too large and they'd do better in the ground. In a pot, the lilac will also need fertilizer in early spring and after bloom--and also add a handful of lime once a season.

Very Inexperienced Gardner

What is a sucker? I have lilacs in my yard and some are very tall and others short. They tend to only have blooms on the top and not towards the bottom. I looked at the blooms, which are no longer purple and appear dead. I thought this was what was to be pruned but there are new green buds in them. Should I be removing these? HELP!!!!

Suckers are plant sprouts

Suckers are plant sprouts from the root system. New lilac suckers grow into new lilacs! For some folks, this is desirable. For many homeowners, who don't want more growth, it is not. Your lilacs also need pruning. If you just have blooms on the top, then your lilac is overgrown. You must prune RIGHT after they finish flowering this year, and before mid-July. If overgrown, also cut down about a third of the older canes as close to the ground as possible next bring before they leaf out. You may not get blossoms that year but you'll send out new growth and the shrub will start to look better next year. Always thin out your thickest canes as low as you can cut them.

Black leaves on my lilac

I have recently planted 6 Charles joly lilac shrubs, May long weekend in northern Alberta. They are planted along the back of my fence which recieves full sun all day long. While watering them this evening, I noticed that on 3 of the 6 shrubs they have a few blackening leaves on them. Is this normal or should I be concerned about insects/desease affecting them? As I purchased and planted them at the end of May, I am unsure if they bloomed this year. They seem to me...a VERY inexperienced be young they stand 3-4' tall. Other than the blackening leaves they appear to be healthy, as someone mentioned above they do have some leaves with holes but I think thats just par for the

Black leaves may mean: 1)

Black leaves may mean:
1) Frost injury on newly emerging tissue. If the black parts on more prominent on the margins of leaves, it's probably just the cold temperatures.
2) Lilac blight. This looks a bit different--starting as brown water-marked spots and progresses to blackened leaves. A cool, wet, rainy, spring season can lead to lilac blight, especially if rainy after a late frost. In this case, you want to prune and burn all infected areas.
You may wish to bring a sample to your local cooperative extension or garden center.

Drawf Lilac has seeds, when do I plant them

First time growing a drawf lilac tree/bush and this year it has what looks like seeds, when do I pick the seeds and how and when do I plant them. This drawf is 3 years old and has about ten 18" suckers growing I want to transplant them but need advice too. Hope someone has the answers, thanking you in advance.

Lilacs are relatively low

Lilacs are relatively low maintenance, just be sure to trim the blooms after they’ve expired in the spring. Lilacs grow on old wood. The seeds should just be cut off, planting them will most likely get you nowhere. Also cut away the suckers. Lilacs are clump forming and produce new shoots from the base of the trunk. Use these shoots for propagating lilac bushes. Dig down from the main clump, exposing the roots and carefully cut the shoot away from the “mother” plant. Make sure you include roots. Then plant the shoot in a suitable location and water regularly until it takes hold.
Good luck!


I live in northern Alabama and planted a lilac bush about 4 years ago. It bloomed the first year, but although it is growing in size, it has not bloomed the past 3 years. I have tried everything, including soil acidifier. I was really hoping it would bloom this year, as I had been doing research on how to prune. But it never did, and now I'm not sure which canes to cut back, as I have read that you should only prune the canes that have produced blooms in spring. The only other thing I can think of is that I have not removed the grass and mulched around the bush. Could that really be the reason for its not blooming?

There a few things that could

There a few things that could be going wrong:
Check your soil’s acidity. Lilacs prefer soil pH from 6 to 7. You can find soil testing kits at most garden centers.
Perhaps your lilac is not getting enough sun. Lilacs need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Lilac bushes tend to not bloom for the first few years, though it sounds like you were lucky to have blooms in year 1. They spend the first 3 years getting established and start to bloom regularly by age 6.
Hang on! It is worth it!


I live in DE and I have the exact same happen to me.First year it bloomed and hasn't bloomed in 3-4 years now. I have kept the grass away from mine by mulching and has not worked so I don't think that is your problem. HELP

You'll want to check for the

You'll want to check for the same concerns: sunlight, pH levels of the soil, improper planting, and pruning that may have removed the buds for upcoming years.

See comments below for more advice.

Thank you for your interest in the Old Farmer's Almanac and our Web site.

Bees are eating my lilac leaves

I live in Tucson and have two lilac in large pots. Each year about May they get many holes in their leaves about the size of a quarter. We have seen bees cutting away the leaves. Is this damaging to the plants and is there anything to prevent it?


Are the holes round and perfectly shaped? If so, they are not honeybees or your traditional bees. As you live out West, you may have "leafcutter" bees. The damage is only aesthetic and minor as they're just cutting bits of the leaves for their nesting. They are not aggressive with humans. Importantly, they are valuable pollinators for your garden so we'd leave them be. Pesticides don't work and their nests are hard to find so you don't have much choice.

Lilac Bush Pests

Every spring, as soon as my lilacs bloom, they are invaded with bees, butterflies, sphinx moths and hummingbirds which destroy the flowers. What can I do to repel these pests?


Did you just call hummingbirds, bees and butterflies pests? Seriously? Last I checked, plants are marketed specifically to attract these desirable and necessary fauna. It's called "ecosystem"...Check out concrete paving. That attracts nothing. Not even people. (Just cars)

Polinators love lilacs

Oh my dear, these are the pollinators that make the blooms and beauty of the garden possible. They are not destroying the lilac. The lilac is actually using its floral scent to attract these beneficial insects.

Old lilac

At my grandparents homestead where I live and grew up, there is a patch of lilac, no more than 4' tall that has never bloomed in my entire life time. We are talking 40+ years. What's wrong? Are they too old? Should they be cut back? It's an issue I've pondered for some time. Its a lovely shrub, but would love to see it bloom.

oh oh...

My lilacs are currently in bloom. Yesterday I pruned out a ton of dead wood, but nothing green. Was this a bad thing?

Reblooming Lilacs

Do I cut back the blooms on these after they bloom the first time in the spring so they will bloom again?

Yes, you prune right after

Yes, you prune right after bloom in the spring but do it before new flower buds set. So prune after May and before July. The lilacs bloom once each season and they'll bloom again next spring.

Thank You for inspiring me.

I have a lilac bush that my aunt gave me a long time ago. The bush is probably 10X10ft. It's at my childhood home where my brother lives. You have inspired me to go dig up some of the suckers to plant in my yard . I will wait until Fall to do so as I think it may be too late now. I'll be going for the 4 ft or taller suckers on the outskirts of the main plant. Again, thanks for sharing your knowledge and letting us all know how easy it is to grow these beautiful plants. They have been my favorite since I found them as a small child in my aunt's yard.

Lilacs not in South

Being from Illinois, the one thing I miss in spring is the Lilacs. South Alabama is no place to grow them, all Northerners enjoy!


I live in South Carolina and have a lilac bush in my yard. It blooms in April every year. I don't understand why you say South Alabama is no place to grow lilacs. I have even separated my bush and replanted it with great success. Have you tried growing lilacs in Alabama? If not, you might want to give it a try.

will my plant die?

the next door's workmen have hacked at my lilac plant and its in a right mess, if i up root it to re plant it, will it grow ok?

Hacked Lilac

If the roots are still in the ground, leave it. Lilacs are very tough plants and should survive. You may see some growth but not blooms this year. Cut out any hacked stems. Unfortunately, this would be a bad time to replant. The best time is early spring and the next best time is the fall after the leaves have dropped. Wait til then if you can.

early spring sun only?

I want to plant a lilac bush in a spot where it will have full sun in winter and early spring, but only partial after mid-May. This means it will have good sun through it's blooming season (I am in the north east), but then less through summer and fall. What do you all think? Enough sun? Thanks!

As long as they get 6 hours

As long as they get 6 hours of sun through the end of their blooming season, they should be OK. They really need the sun to bloom profusely.

Color variations

We've taken shoots from the same original purple lilac bush over the years and planted them in different places through out the property, all in full sun. But the blooms of each new bush seem to be a shade or 2 different than the parent, some darker, some lighter, some redder. What causes this?

Would lilacs do well in an

Would lilacs do well in an area like Houston Texas. Not too much chill here, even in the winter.

lilacs for texas

Some of our readers have had success with the 'Miss Kim' lilac and the Persian Lilac (Syringa persica) as they are low-chill hybrids. However, it's not a sure bet because lilacs just love that long winter chill and simply aren't native to this area. Here are some possible substitutions: Crepe Myrtle, Texas Mountain Laurel, and the Lilac Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus).

Mixing Colors

I have Pink and Purple lilacs. if planted to close to each other will I end up with just one color. or will each plant retain it's own color

lilac colors

Lilacs don't change color based on the soil or surroundings (unlike hydrangeas and some other flowers).

Each will keep its own color.

Each will keep its own color. We have pink, white and purple bushes all in a row. Enjoy.


I transplanted three dwarf lilacs last fall. They all bloomed this spring and seemed to be thriving then the leaves began to curl and one bush died, and the other two are marginal. I sprayed Seven but had no effect. Can you help?

curling lilac leaves

Curling leaves often means not enough water or improper watering. Take a trowel and dig down into the soil below the lilac to if water is getting down deep into the roots. If not, put the hose on and let it trickle for a good 20 minutes as they are thirsty.


Do lilacs attract bees or wasps? I am hoping to plant my lilacs around our deck to close in the bottom, but i don't really want to be fighting the bees and wasps all summer and not be able to enjoy my deck.

Lilacs and bees

Yes, lilacs do attract bees (and wasps). They have nectar-rich blossoms. Consider foliage plants instead.

My lilac bushes don't have enough leaves???

I planted 50 lilac bushes 7 yrs ago, they were in an area where they got little water in summer, they look meager and a bit sparse. How can I make them produce more leaves for a full or lush look?? I recently transplanted all of them to our new home since the buyer didn't want them. They are 3-5' tall. Will severe pruning cause them to " flesh out"??

Prune your lilacs properly

Pruning is the best way to rejuvenate lilacs. The best time to prune is after May bloom but before new flower bud set for next year in early July. Cut out any dead wood and remove the spent flowers. Prune out the oldest canes (down to the ground) and cut back some of the newer branches by 1/3. Do this again next spring and you should see healthier bushes with more leaves and flowers.

tiny blooms

Why is it that some years there are Huge blossoms on my lilacs and some years like this year, they are tiny?

Tiny blooms

The size of the flowers may be caused by the weather this past winter and early spring.
Too much nitrogen in the soil can also cause poor blooming. Use a fertilizer high in phosphorus. A tip from the Almanac archives is to spread your fireplace ashes around the lilac bush for bigger, better blooms.

Question about blooming

We have had a lilac tree for about 3-4 years now. It has yet to bloom. It's aprrox. 7' in height. After we bought it and planted it, we found a better spot for it so decided to transplant it. I thought perhaps it was in shock. The leaves look great as does the tree itself. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have no idea what kind of lilac it is though. Thank you in advance. Lesley

why lilac is not blooming

If your lilac plant is only 3 to 4 years old and you have never seen blooms on it, it may not be mature enough to produce flowers. You may need to be patient and wait another year. Or, it may be due to other factors. Does your new location have full sunlight and dry soil? No sun, no blooms. Did you plant too deep? Is it the right type of lilac for your region? Are you using a fertilizer with too much nitrogen? And you pruning incorrectly--see this page on how to prune lilacs so that you do not remove its very buds for next next year's growth.

Lilac not blooming

I had the same problem. Lilac plant beautiful but would not bloom. I removed trees that kept the lilac in the shade and
fed it lots of lime. The next year it bloomed.

planting Lilacs

I live in the tri-corner of CA, NV, and AZ. I want to plant a lilac in my barren backyard. I have many wind chimes and bird baths but no trees or other bushes, back yard is very sunny and windy except close to the house. What lilac is best for my area and conditions?

lilacs for southwest

Given the heat, try Persian lilac or Chinese lilac. They are low-chill lilacs (which normally need a chill) and best for desert areas.

pot instead of ground?

Will I stunt the growth (blooms) of Charles Joly shrub if I plant it in a huge pot instead of in the ground?

clay and dirt

I bought a Charles Joly lilac bush from a nursery and was ready to plant it, but when I started to dig the whole, I found that about a foot into the dirt, I hit clay and rock. Now I'm afraid to plant it there. Although there are trees and bushes growing all around. Should I find another place?

planting lilacs in clay

Lilacs are actually one of the plants that will tolerate clay soil with a pH of 6 to 7. Working compost in with the soil will help provide nutrients.
In terms of proximity to other trees and shrubs: Be sure they are spaced properly. A Charles Joly Lilac is a medium-size lilac shrub and should be spaced 4 to 7 feet apart to allow it to spread. Also, lilacs prefer 5 to 6 hours of sun so you don’t want them shaded by other trees and shrubs.

Dead buds?

I am not sure but my lilac has dry ends on 3/4 of the stems this year-I have had them before-it visually looks like a spent bud-open with nothing in it-they snap right off-I don't know why one has to trim back the spent flowers every year-My aunt has been gone for many years-she always had large full lilac bushes-they are still that way at her place-house is gone but lilacs are still there-never get pruned or treated in any other way-they are gorgious-I even took one to plant at my home-whats up with the dry ends and whats your feelings on my aunts lilacs-never been touched-

Mild winters and few blooms

The past few winters have been very mild (I'm in Maryland, zone 7a) and my lilacs are barely putting out any flowers. Is there anything I can do to encourage blooming despite this?

Lilac Bloom

There are five main reasons that lilacs fail to bloom: insufficient sunlight, too much nitrogen fertilizer, improper planting (planted too deeply), improper pruning (pruning at the wrong time) or winterkill of the flower buds. Also, lilacs will typically not bloom the season after a harsh pruning, so you may need to wait until next year before you see flowers. If nothing works, you might take a sucker from your lilac bush and try growing it in a new location.

When & which ones to plant

We are outside Philadelphia & want to plant lilacs Any suggestions as to which types work bests & when is then best time to plant?

Lilac varieties Philadelphia PA

On variety, it depends on whether you want a tree, shrub, border, etc. A classic is the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris). It's 7 to 15 feet tall and spreads 6 to 12 feet once grown. For a smaller lilac, consider the Persian lilac tree. Then there is the ‘Miss Kim’ (Syringa patula), a hardy compact shrub (five feet high by five feet wide). April and May are good times for planting. Enjoy the lovely lilac blooms!


My mom has a lilac bush that has been outside her bedroom window for at least 50 years. We are selling the homestead. I would like to known if you can take a cutting from the lilac bush and put in my
yard so I can always think of mom with the lovley lilacs of my childhood?

old lilacs

My Mom has a lilac bush that has been near her bedroom window ever since I can remember it must be at least 50 years old?. We are selling her house but I would like to know if you can take a cutting from this and plant in my yard to remember her by?

Old Lilacs

Established lilacs such as this will have smaller off shoot plants growing around the perimeter of the bush. You can easier dig up some of the smaller lilacs plants growing around the main bush. The roots are not very deep - less then 6". Don't feel timid to only dig up a lilac plant that is a foot high - you can easily replant ones that are 3 to 4 feet high - just looked for slender upright growth.

These replanted lilac bushes will be smaller and resemble a small flowering tree until they begin to fill out over the years.

I moved an established lilac bush which was over 6' x 6' without in sections without damaging it (it was over 20 years old). Lilacs are really a single bush but a cluster of bushes which lend themselves to be relocated in desired.


My Aunt gave me a lilac cutting eight years ago. It has only bloomed once. The bush is still very small. What do I need to do?

The usual reasons that I

The usual reasons that I lilac languishes is: too much shade or too much nitrogen. Move the plant if needed and make sure you fertilize correctly. One way to get your hydrangea blooming is to drive a spade into the ground around the lilac--about where its foliage ends. Do this in a circle around the lilac about 6 times.



According to some sources, it

According to some sources, it may take up to 7 years after being transplanted for lilacs to bloom. Also, lilacs should be pruned in the spring, immediately after they blossom. If they are pruned later in the summer, you may be cutting off the new growth that has the flower buds for the following year.

lack of bloom

my tree bloomed tons last few years, everyone else's are flowering but mine won't even show buds. Help. I love these plants and want flowers

lilacs not blooming

The most common reason lilacs stop flowering is pruning at the wrong time of the year and too much nitrogen fertilizer. Lilacs flower on wood grown the previous season, so any pruning must be done immediately after the shrub blooms. Pruning in summer or fall or early spring will remove flower buds. Prune as directed on above page and withhold fertilizer.

cut spent blooms

Also, be sure to snip back the spent blooms right after they fade (back to the leaf, just past the bloom). This can take a while but it will rejuvenate your lilacs.

lack of bloom

I had the same issue with two large bushes both over 10 years old. Both had robust growth in years prior. Last year I was away for their blooming season and missed out on the amazingly fragrant flowers which I always cut to put into vases for myself and all my friends since there was always so many.

I suspect the low flower rate this year was caused by the fact that I did not cut the flowers the prior year and I didn't prune back after the flowering.


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