Order 2016 Almanac Now - Get 3 FREE Gifts


10% off Fall Planted Bulbs at Burpee.com! Use code AFFBA901 - Expires 9/15/15

Huge blooms, wonderful scent.

Credit: Wally Patrick
Your rating: None Average: 4.1 of 5 (130 votes)

Botanical name: Syringa

Plant type: Shrub

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Sun exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun

Soil type: Any

Soil pH: Neutral to Slightly Alkaline

Flower color: Red, Pink, Yellow, Blue, Purple, White

Bloom time: Spring, Summer

Where to buy lilacs: Burpee Gardening

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.

Lilac Pictures

Click slideshow below to enjoy 7 lovely lilac pictures taken by our Almanac readers!


  • 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.
  • 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, gentle remove it 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 shrubs 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.
  • Powder white mildew may appear after a summer of hot, humid weather. It may be unsightly, but it does no harm. Ignore it.

Recommended Varieties

The most common and fragrant lilacs are of the S. vulgaris variety:

  • For early bloom, try 'Charles Joly', a double magneta.
  • Mid-season lilacs include 'Monge', a dark reddish purple, and 'Firmament', a fine blue.
  • Late-season beauties include 'Miss Canada', a reddishpink, and 'Donald Wyman', a single purple.

Although common lilacs love cold weather, a few thrive as south as Zone 9, among them the cutleaf lilac, a fragrant pale lavender. Syringa patula 'Miss Kim' is a graceful shrub with pale lilac-blue flowers that fade to white.

Special Features

  • Attracts Butterflies

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."


Post new comment

Before posting, please review all comments. Due to the volume of questions, Almanac editors can respond only occasionally, as time allows. We also welcome tips from our wonderful Almanac community!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

It is a good practice to

By Almanac Staff

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

By Mary Pratt

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

By Almanac Staff

'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

By Suree Kaliczynski

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

By Nicole d

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Karenada

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By M. Gonzalez

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

Lilacs don't thrive in warm

By Almanac Staff

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

By roger armstrong

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By kelley n

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Robert Buckman

Are lilacs pet friendly?

Yes, lilacs are fine.

By Almanac Staff

Yes, lilacs are fine. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/

Want lilac in florida what

By VW from WV

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Dana Martin

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 lilac....so I

By nagel

I have a huge lilac....so I planted a slip at my lake lot...it grew but no blooms for the first 10 years

we have a 2 yr old lilac

By GJ orfitelli

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Ted Veremeychik

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By caroll

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By abs

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 skimpy..you 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

By Almanac Staff

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

By D'dee

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Kristyn

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

By Deloma Lusk

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?

If your lilacs are in full

By Almanac Staff

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

By J Dieso

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.

Have you had any luck finding

By fisherdi

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?

Yes, it is also possible that

By Almanac Staff

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.

Lack of blooms is usually

By Almanac Staff

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.

Hello! I recently moved into

By Flamingo

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

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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

By Spunky Monkey

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

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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.

By Anonymous

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.


By tagg

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

By Anonymous

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.

By tagg

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...

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

lilac (start)

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.?

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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!

Four years

By Anonymous

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.

Spring or fall are the best

By Almanac Staff

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!


By Anonymous

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.

Lilac not leafing out

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

scent from blooms?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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)

By Anonymous

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?

I had two "Miss Kim Lilac

By Anonymous

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.

Based on what you have told

By Almanac Staff

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.

Starting Lilacs in Pots

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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,

By Almanac Staff

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??

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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?

Lilacs in zone 10b

By Anonymous

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.

lilacs for warm climates

By Almanac Staff

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:


Zone 10 Lilac, So. Ca.

By Anonymous

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.

Deer Resistant?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

my lilac bush lost all its leaves. Is it ok

You didn't mention where

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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 bloom...it's in a container, watered from the base, medium sun. How long before I'll see signs of blooms?

Tinkerbelle lilac

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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.

By Almanac Staff

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.

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By josiegirl

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

Blooming in late September?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

If you have dark black

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

White foam

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous

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,

By Almanac Staff

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 ...

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.

Brown leaves

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.

lilacs blooming again

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

Rust on lilac leaves

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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 ???

By Anonymous


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

By Anonymous

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 ???

By Anonymous


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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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 gardener...to 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 course...no

Black leaves may mean: 1)

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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!


By Anonymous

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?


By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.

There a few things that could

By Almanac Staff

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!

Bees are eating my lilac leaves

By Anonymous

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?


By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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?

Polinators love lilacs

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous

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)

Old lilac

By Anonymous

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...

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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


By Anonymous

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?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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

lilacs for texas

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

Each will keep its own color.

By Anonymous

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

lilac colors

By Almanac Staff

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


By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

Tiny blooms

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

Lilac not blooming

By Anonymous

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.

why lilac is not blooming

By Almanac Staff

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.

planting Lilacs

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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

Lilacs in pots

By Almanac Staff

This shrub appears to be fine for containers: http://www.buyplantsonline.com/charles-joly-lilac-plant-one-gallon.html

clay and dirt

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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?

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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!


By rhenn

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

By Anonymous

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

By Anonymous

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.


By Anonymous

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

By Almanac Staff

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.


By Anonymous


According to some sources, it

By Almanac Staff

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

By Anonymous

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

lack of bloom

By Anonymous

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.

cut spent blooms

By Almanac Staff

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.

lilacs not blooming

By Almanac Staff

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.

we planted our bushes 2 years

By Anonymous

we planted our bushes 2 years ago and had a frost i mistakenly covered them with black trash bags and they burnt since then the bushes look very healthy but have never bloomed will they ever?

Lilac Care

By Almanac Staff

Some varieties of lilacs need a few years to mature. Other reasons for not blooming: A late freeze, too warm a winter (lilacs need chilling), lack of sunlight (6 hours of full sun needed), overfertilizing (not needed), soil that's too acidic (get a soil test and amend with lime if needed), and incorrect pruning (the most common mistake). Pruning helps a lilac flower. Avoid drastic pruning while your lilacs recover. See the pruning tips above.

Lilac roots

By Anonymous

How big do the roots get? Can I plant it next to my house near my bedroom window?

lilacs near house

By Almanac Staff

Plant the lilacs about 12 feet or more from the foundation to avoid worry. Lilac roots aren't invasive though they can ramble and lilacs need room to grow in all directions. 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. However, the roots aren't invasive and don't worry too much about foundations.

lilac blooms

By Catherine Boeckmann

As you figured out, cover with cloth or fabric, not plastic. Lilacs are super duper hearty. I'm sure it will be fine. There are tips above about how to encourage blooms. When you prune/cut down a lilac, it only wants to bloom more!

weather requirements

By Anonymous

We expect a frost, does anything need to be done to protecr our lilac bushes? they have started to bloom.


lilacs and frost

By Almanac Staff

Most lilacs are quite cold hardy (to USDA zone 2) and the plant itself will be fine. However, if you have buds already (given this strangely warm winter), you can throw a cloth sheet over the bushes if they're not too big. The buds are damaged easily. Either you'll lose the flowers totally or the panicles will not be filled out---dead spots, a few flowers, etc.

Plan your perfect Garden