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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Lilac blooms

When does the lilac bush set next springs blooms?


Lilacs bloom on old wood. They grow flower buds each summer for the next spring’s bloom.

We're planning on planting

We're planning on planting Lilacs this year along side a ditch in front of our home. Where were planning of planting these lilacs where we have existing poplar tress in that spot that have to be taken down because they are dying. These poplar trees have mushrooms growing around them which means they are stressed and they are starting to have dead branches. These trees are over 30 years old , would the lilacs grow between these stumps or do I have to remove the stumps completely. We live in Manitoba Canada. The lilacs would be in the sun 24 hours a day.

on replacing poplars

Apparently poplars are popular in Manitoba. This article explains a lot about them, including their lifespan, which seems to time out pretty close to your trees: The article (dating from 2003!) also explains why these trees tend to die after a few decades. The question that comes to our mind is, if your trees have a disease, would that disease continue into the lilacs? And if there is disease, it would seem wise to remove the entire thing, stumps and all.

Here’s more; specifically, about poplar rust: Could that be afflicting your trees?

Honestly, it seems like you need to know what the problem is and if it resides in the ground before going forward with planting. An arborist in your area should be able to tell you. The University of Manitoba has a program; perhaps they’ll take your call. We hope this helps.

No clue

I purchased my home about a year and half ago and when I bought the house I originally thought that the bush was just a normal bush. It never bloomed or showed and signs that it was anything else. I trimmed it down this past fall and to my surprise it bloomed this spring. I have no clue as to how to care for a lilac bush. It only has like seven blooms on it as of right now but it is a good sized bush so I'd imagine there would be more. I'd like to keep it going and get it to really thrive so any advice is greatly appreciated.

lilac care

Shayna, How exciting! See this page all about lilac care; you will need to prune your bush to keep it blooming so pay special attention to the pruning section.


My I plant spearmint or peppermint at the base of a lilac bush / tree?

Lilac Companion Plants

We can’t see any reason not to plant mint near a lilac bush. However, mint grows best in partial to full sun, so make sure that it will get enough light under the lilacs. Mint is also a fast and enthusiastic spreader, so it may need to be reined in from time to time. Keeping the mint at least 16 inches away from the base of the lilac will ensure that too much moisture doesn’t build up and cause the lilac to stop blooming. See our Mint Plant Page for more information.

Demise of lilac tree

My lilac tree, for some reason, has died and have just had it taken out. The site is next to a main road, the adjacent shrubs are a holly and laurel. Could these have affected the tree ?

poisonous plants?

We can find no evidence that holly or laurel would be harmful to a lilac tree. There are numerous reasons why lilacs die, from too much water (poor drainage) to fungus to the unknown. Scroll through the correspondence here and you will see such comments.

Bloomerang Dwarf Lilac Bush

I am considering planting the dwarf lilac Bloomerang. I have read that regular Lilac bushes have very invasive roots and spread by seeds as well as developing new suckers along the roots. Do you know if the Dwarf Bloomerang would have the same problems??? THank you.

lilacs growth

We wouldn’t say that lilac roots are invasive. Just leave enough space for them to spread (about one and one-half times the width of the shrub).

Lilacs won't grow

I planted lilac bushes 3 yrs. ago. I enriched the soil with garden soil, they get sun for most of the day. In the spring, I get tiny blooms but the bushes are the same size they were when I planted them. I'm ready to throw them out!!! What can I do??

little blooms on lilac...

Have you checked the soil pH? Enriching the soil is not enough; lilacs like neutral to alkaline soil but not acidic soil. And/or you might be enriching it too much; see above: 10-10-10 is recommended only in late winter. That’s coming soon … be ready. Reread the notes above, and maybe your lilac will repay you with lovely flowers.

Lilac Flower Buds?

Hi there,
I am new to growing lilacs, but bought 4 Katherine Havemeyer 10cm high plants about 4 or 5 months ago and planted them in pots.
New leaf buds would open out and up the plant would grow. They grew straight up quickly to the current height of about 50cm.
But 4 or 5 weeks ago they completely stopped growing up, and started very slowly forming small, tight, different buds at the top of the stem. Are these FLOWER buds forming on such a young plant?
And should these be clipped off, to enable the plant to continue growing quickly, instead of all the energy going into flower development?
Thanks for your help,

Lilacs bush

I just planted a root this summer. It is abut 12" tall. Do I cover it with a bag for the winter? What do I have to do to keep it from freezing or firing?? Thanks!

winter protection

Lilacs are generally fairly hardy, but if you live in Zone 5 or colder, your new plant may benefit from a little protection as it is becoming established. If your lilac is planted in the ground, not a pot, then you might want to add about 3 to 4 inches of shredded bark or shredded leaves, or compost as mulch to protect the roots and help prevent heaving. Keep any mulch a few inches away from the trunk, though, to discourage rodents from nibbling on the trunk over winter. Remove the mulch in spring after all threat of severe frost has passed.

After any leaves have fallen and the plant is dormant, or if you are expecting a moderate to severe frost, you might also gently wrap the seedling in burlap “cylinder” and fill with mulched leaves or straw. Leave the top of the cylinder open. (If your lilac is grafted, be especially sure to protect the bud union with mulch.) Do not use plastic, as the lack of air circulation may invite disease, and may make the interior too warm. If your plant is by your home’s foundation, you might also want to place an A-frame stapled with burlap, or similar protection, over the plant to prevent it from becoming crushed by heavy snow falling from the roof, etc., if that is a possibility in your area. Remove the cylinder and mulch, and the A-frame, in spring, after threat of frost has passed. Hope this helps!

I have an old lilac bush that

I have an old lilac bush that is growing very close to my house. We need to do some foundation work now before the winter sets in and I am wondering if it's possible to save the bush somehow and relocate it somewhere else on the property. Is it too late to up-root it with any hope of it surviving?

Hi Kelly,

Hi Kelly,

Though the dropping temperatures are not ideal for digging your lilac, it is not impossible. When you dig it out, do your best to keep as many roots on the shrub as possible. Dig a wide circle around it and slowly work it out of the ground making clean root cuts with loppers (in other words, don’t just rip it from the ground, be gentle). Wrap the roots in burlap and water it. You can hold it over in a warm mulch pile. Dig a hole into a yard of mulch (many nurseries will deliver material to your property), preferably located in a tucked away area, where wind and snow damage are at a minimum. Bury the roots and about half way up the plant in the mulch. Do not water anymore. The shrub will look like it is dying but hopefully the root zone will live, go dormant, and bounce back in the spring. Only replant when the ground has completely thawed and there is no chance of a late spring frost. Hope this helps … best of luck!

Bloomerang Purple Lilac

I have two small Lilacs that i bought at Lowes. I planted them on the west side of the front yard first because it said full sun. Well, they got burned pretty bad so i moved them to the east side. After i trimmed all the leaves off of them that were burned they began to grow new leaves. The leaves are not smooth in texture, they are more like bumpy leaves. Is this normal? None of the leaves are smooth. I cannot remember if the first ones were smooth or not. But i was just wondering if this is something wrong? They look healthy otherwise.

Propagated Lilac clippings that have grown roots

I would like to know how big these little plants need to be before planting in the ground and how to care for them during the winter until ready for planting in the ground.
I live in IL, North West of Chicago. I have transplanted one of the rooted plants into a small pot and it is growing fine outside. How should I care for it during the winter?

Thank you!

When to Plant Lilac Clippings

Because lilacs must go through a cold dormant period, you should leave your pot outside in a protected area, such as up against the house. Put a thick layer of mulch around the base of the plant. And, before the first hard frost, gently lay a piece of burlap over the plant for added protection. In the spring, take it out of the pot to assess its roots. If they are healthy with a lot of smaller “feeder” roots, go ahead and plant it when the ground has thawed.


Diseased Lilac TREE

I live in Windsor Ontario Canada,I have two years old tree,had few bloom this year ,it was fine last year ,but as we know this summer was very hot and humid .its mid September but my Lilac tree's leaves look shrunken and dry ,and branches look dry and diseased(it has very small spots on it )I am confused ,is its weather change or some kind of disease or it my be the fertilizer which I was putting in my perineals beside this tree,so I sprayed a little bit in lilacs root too. I never took care of tree before.please guide me.thanks

Flagging Lilac

Hi Rona,

That sounds like a water-related issue. Insufficient water results in distorted and wilting leaves. As for the spots, sometimes when a plant is stressed it is susceptible to disease. It could be a foliar fungus but it is hard to say without seeing it. It’s unlikely fertilizer is to blame. Take a few cuttings of the leaves to a reputable nursery to see if they can identify the problem. And water regularly until late fall. Hopefully it will bounce back after the dormant season.


I purchased 15 lilac whips from our county conservation service here in Iowa.planted them in May of this year. They get lots of sun. They are still pretty much whips. They look like 3 foot trees. How do I get them to bush out?

Pruning Lilacs

Hi Judy,

It may be a year or two before they start sending up new growth–that will make them more shrub like. They are probably still getting rooted. In time, you can make some heading cuts to encourage growth, but I wouldn’t prune them this year. Give them time to get established.

problems with new lilac shrubs

My new lilac shrubs were ordered from a landscaper and planted by them. The look horrible, All of the leaves are getting brown spots, curling up and falling off. Can you let me know if this is normal, for being planted at this time of the year. There is definitely new growth happening, but they look very poor. They6 are White Japanese Lilacs..

Lilac Problems

Brown spots on lilacs may mean Lilac Bacterial Blight. This happens with plants that have been stressed by improper watering or lack of nutrients/fertilization. Be sure to avoid any overhead watering or wetting the foliage; water at soil level. Proper spacing and plenty of air circulation is also important. We would advise calling your landscapers.


I have two lilac bushes that are about ten years old, but I have never had a single bloom!

What can I do? thanks.

no bloom on the lilacs

Hmm. Have you checked off all of the criteria above: soil pH? compost/manure (note: with lime; also check pH), fertilizer (but not those with high nitrogen), SUN (it is very important that the plants get at least 6 hours of sun per day), water…? Are you pruning them? You could be cutting off the “old wood” that bears the flowers. Are the lilacs getting too much nitrogen? Have your soil analyzed (university coop extensions and other sources do this). Did you clear the ground around them, per above? Are they close to a lawn that you fertilize with, among other things, nitrogen? That can result in little/no bloom.

Then there is this: Try talking to it… But make sure everything else (above) is in order, too.

We hope this helps.

Dead lilac branch

Can a dean lilac branch develop black ants and do they bite?

Newly transplanted lilac struggling

I purchased a vitex lilac at a nursery here in houston Texas and after getting it home and planting it last weekend it's looking wilted and the leaves are getting brown spots. I really want it to make it. I have done some research and know it doesn't like too much water. What can I do??

Vitex lilac blight?

Transplanting puts some stress on just about any plant. Although many sources rave about this plant, it can be vulnerable to blight, Ashley. Have you contacted the nursery that you purchased it from? here some more on that:

Here is more advice on the plant—but nothing on the spots. You could contact this Aggie coop extension and get specific advice:

We hope this helps.

Lilac bush

We planted a lilac bush last fall in an area with at least 6 hours of sun. We got beautiful purple blooms on them this spring, then all the blooms are gone and now nothing. What did I do wrong??

Faded colour

Thank you for the advice in this column.
Our beautiful old lilac has bloomed for longer than we have lived here, southern ontario, 40 years. This year the flowers, abundant, are a pale mauve rather than the vibrant dark of other years. Never happened before!...any suggestions?

Faded Color of Lilacs

You may have accidentally pruned off the scion root if your plant is grafted, or that part of the plant may have simply died, so the rootstock would now be producing the lighter variation of the flowers. Lilac color can also be affected by the acidity of the soil, so test the pH around the plant. The color will be more intense (the vibrant dark) with a higher pH, which you can achieve by liming. If the soil has become more acidic, this might have affected the change in color.

Lilac Bushes Too Tall

I have some old lilac bushes that I have, for the last two years, cut off the individual flowers last year and it is now growing like stink! Not stinky, because it produced beautiful flowers this year.
But it is too tall.
Can I simply cut all the branches down by two feet and still get blossoms next year? The flowers are just ending now.

transplant lilac tree saplings

My Mother has a lilac tree & my Nana has lilac bushes. I see sprouts popping up away from the actual plant, are they attached to the same root system or can I snatch them up and transplant them in my yard? (Both are well established, tree is 40+ years old, bushes are 20 years old)

Best time to plant suckers is

Best time to plant suckers is before buds emerge in the spring or after the leaves have dropped from the shrub in fall. Find 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 as many roots as possible and plant it in a big pot with potting soil or directly in the ground. Water well.

Lilacs do not leaf out

I live in Utah. I have several Miss Kim lilacs that are about 10 years old. For the past few years, they have been having fewer and fewer leaves. They are all heavily blossoming this spring, but only one has many leaves. The one with the most blossoms has the fewest leaves. What can I do? The lilacs in another part of the yard are growing well and leafy.

I live in South Eastern part

I live in South Eastern part of Colorado..I just wondering what's best lilac shrub or tree to get?


Err moved into our new home last year and there are three well established lilac trees but I don't know how old they are. I see tips on pruning, but do the dead blooms need to be cut also? It didn't look like it had been done before we moved in, and they bloomed fine this year.

Hi Rena,

Hi Rena,

It helps the tree to remove the dead blooms every year. When you remove the blooms the tree doesn’t need to use its energy to produce seeds. The faded blooms are easy to snap off.

I have shrub lilacs that do

I have shrub lilacs that do not bloom, about 5 years old. They are shaded and don't get 6 hours of sunlight daily. I would like to move them. Do they have a large root? Or could I cut them down and try to grow new plants from the suckers? I'm not sure how to do that. Do I pull the suckers up and hope to get some roots? Thanks


How do the roots grow? How far away should I keep it away from my septic? Thank you

Lilac roots are shallow and

Lilac roots are shallow and spread about one and half times the width of the bush. If you plant the lilac about 8 feet from your septic system you should be OK.

Miss Kim didn't make it

I live in the Chicago suburbs. We bought a Miss Kim at a nursery last May and planted it with the soil that they suggested. We followed all directions with the hole size etc.. After planting we had a very heavy rain. It is in full sun. We bought a moisture tester and I tested every week 4 to 6 inches down, and even further, and it always showed that it was wet (for weeks). Basically, the rain we received last spring allowed us to never have to water. When the blooms dried out, I cut them off. In Midsummer all the leaves shriveled up and turned brown. We also planted two hydrangeas nearby and they did the same thing. Now this spring, all three plants or dried up and just sticks. My hydrangeas are growing new leaves at the base of the plant as well as a couple teeny leaves coming out of the branches. However my lilacs show no sign of greenery, leaves, or any other growth. I scraped on a few branches and found no green. I am assuming it's dead, but I'm fearful of planting another lilac in this location. Should I leave it in the ground and wait to see? Do you think it was just the rain that flooded it out right after planting, and I should take another chance? This is the only area in my small yard for a lilac. As I noted, it does get full sun all day in this location. I really don't know what to do, as I have always loved lilacs, and really want to have one. Is there maybe a better, hardier type of lilac I could plant, and should I wait until fall to plant a new one, versus the spring? Do the nurseries even sell them in the fall? Thanks so much for your help

Our guess is that the heavy

Our guess is that the heavy rain and wet soil killed your lilac. Please see our planting and care sections at the top of this page. You may need to amend the soil with organic matter (compost or aged manure) to make it drain better. Lilacs can be planted in the spring or fall. See link below for some lilac varieties to grow in your region.

Missing my lilacs!

I am a transplanted Michigander to the Ocala area of mid Florida. I'm missing my lilacs to the point that I am planning on visiting family in mid October and I'm going to return to Florida with a couple of Lilacs. I need your assistance on picking the shrubs with the most chance of thriving. What do you think?

lilacs in Florida

There’s no point in bringing flowers that thrive in Michigan to Florida. They probably will not survive the heat and they need a winter.

Florida is not really lilac country, from what we have come to understand. However, there are some cultivars that tolerate condition in Alabama … and maybe they would grow for you. Look for S. x hyacinthiflora ‘Betsy Ross’ and ‘Old Glory.’

Other alternatives —remember these may not be exactly like what grows in Michigan—could be cutleaf lilac and Syringa patula, aka Miss Kim and Manchurian lilac.

Google to find sources and other advice on them.

Lilacs in buried pots

I live in Minnesota and was wondering if it is possible to grow Yankee Doodles and Sensation lilacs in 24" pots (25 gallons) buried in holes in the ground? My interest is to limit the growth to about 3-4 ft wide and limit the roots from spreading into the lawn. Would it be helpful to cut 6" diameter holes on the pot wall towards the bottom of the pot to allow for the roots to spread? Is this idea feasible at all? Thank you

We have no experience in

We have no experience in growing lilacs in buried pots but suspect that they will do fine. Just make sure that there are holes in the pot for drainage.



I have 4 lilacs, they are

I have 4 lilacs, they are over 8yrs old. I have barely been trimming them and this year I only have one really good lilac that has already produce a few blooms. The others look a little worn down. They only have like half of the leaves too. Do I wait until fall to cut them back or can I go aheafd and trim the branches that don't have any leaves??

help for lilacs

Ways to “bring back” your lilacs are not unlike getting them going. This is from the Planting tips, above, edited to suit your needs:

  • 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. DITTO for poor plants: Improve the soil, sprinkle with some lime to raise pH, if needed (check to see).
  • 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. DITTO for poor plants: have trees or buildings begun shading your lilac?
  • Make sure the site drains well. Lilacs don’t like wet feet and will not bloom with too much water. DITTO for poor plants. If you improve the soil (see first bullet here), also “wake it up” but raking/scratching it to loosen it and allow new additives to reach the roots.

This is from the Care tips above, edited:

  • Each spring, apply a layer of compost under the plant, followed by mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. HERE WE GO AGAIN! see above
  • Water during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. ARE YOU DOING THIS?
  • Lilacs won’t bloom if they’re overfertilized. They can handle a handful of 10-10-10 in late winter, but no more. TOO LATE NOW FOR THAT BUT MAKE A NOTE.
  • 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. NOTE THIS ON YOUR CALENDAR, TOO.  Per the advice above, a little lime—note, a “sprinkle” now—will not harm the plants.

As for pruning, it’s still early, still spring. See the advice above. (Yes, prune now.)

Cut Lilac Blooms

When I cut the blooms and place in water they are fine the first day. On the second day they begin to wilt. There is plenty of water in the vase and I crush the stem before placing in the vase. What can I do to keep the blooms from wilting? I am in Portland, Oregon.

Blue Skies Lilac

I bought a Blue Skies lilac bush two years ago. Late last summer, all the leaves turned yellow, then brown, so my gardener pulled them all off. Right now, the bush is full of green leaves, but I'm noticing a few of them starting to turn yellow. What am I doing wrong? I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Blue Skies lilacs need moist,

Blue Skies lilacs need moist, fertile, well-draining soil. Adding compost and bonemeal to the soil will add nutrients and aid in draining the soil. Make sure the soil is moist but do not overwater. Yellow leaves can also be a sign of disease (fungal) or pest damage.


Can lilac bushes grow in central Florida?

Lilac plants really thrive in

Lilac plants really thrive in climates with a long winter chill. That said, there are a few low-chill hybrids some people like such as ‘Miss Kim’ lilac (S. patula ‘Miss Kim’). A popular substitute is the lilac chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) which doesn’t have the same fragrance but has those gorgeous blue-purple blooms.


Hi I've had a lilac for 5 yrs , it doesn't bloom. I live in Maple Ridge BC Canada. I put lime on it in spring, is that why? Should it be in fall?

Back to Basics

Hi, Barb: What a nice part of Canada! It sounds like you need to go back to square one and test your soil’s pH. Lilacs like 6.0 to 7.0, which is basically neutral to slightly alkaline. Add a little lime in the spring and again in the fall only if you find the pH lower than 6.0. If you find that your soil has become too alkaline, replace some with neutral soil to reduce the downward leaching of the alkalinity. Slowly but surely, bring your soil to the proper pH. Also, make sure that your soil does not have too much nitrogen, which can sometimes happen due to fertilizer runoff. Finally, lilacs need 6 to 7 hours of sun each day for best blooming, so make sure that yours isn’t in too much shade. Good luck! 

Planting Lilac

I am planning to plant 1 gallon Bloomerang Lilac Shrubs in a zone 7 climate next week. I want to (at least eventually) add rubber mulch to the area they are planted. Is there a detriment to doing this right after I plant them? If so, about how long would I want to wait before covering with rubber mulch? I saw one comment that said to remove mulch from a plant that didn't take well, but not sure if maybe that's just because it was a smaller plant or if you have to give them some period of time to establish themselves before mulching. Also, I've read that you want to water for 4 weeks after planting but not too much. I'm planning on being away for 6 days a few days after I planned to plant these. Would it be advisable to water them well for a few days and then have to skip the water for the six days I'm gone, or to just leave them in the planters and plant them when I return. Thanks in advance!

Hi Brendon,

Hi Brendon,

Make sure to amend your soil before adding the mulch. Lilacs grow best in soil rich in organic matter. Wait to plant the lilacs so that you can keep an eye on the soil moisture after you plant them. Add mulch after about a month when you know that the lilacs are growing well. Keep the mulch about 6 inches from the base of the stems.

New young lilac

I planted a very young lilac tree/shrub this past fall. I live in Nebraska so we have had some very windy winters. A branch from a near by tree fell on it and broke the top bud of the leader branch. Will this stunt the growth of the tree? I'm worried it won't grow properly.

lilac missing its leader

You won’t necessarily lose the lilac. A Montreal (yes, Canada) web site for that city”s botanical gardens (among other sites) advises as follows for TREES: If the central leader is broken, damaged or very weak, or has a dead terminal bud, choose a vigorous lateral branch to replace it. If the best-located lateral branch is growing at an oblique angle, cut back the damaged leader as close to this branch as possible. Place a stake in the ground to support the lateral branch. You will be able to remove the stake after two or three years. If the tree has an almost vertical lateral branch, cut back the damaged leader just above that branch, which will straighten up and eventually take over from the original leader. You can read more here:

We hope this helps—


planting lilacs

Local nurseries supply as you mentioned in earlier post, boomerangs and miss Kim varieties. The common lilac to me surpasses all other lilacs as far as scent and just my opinion. What do you think? I live in Fort Worth and curious how well the common lilac will grow in my zone.

Hi Don,

Hi Don,

Most lilacs in the Syringa vulgaris family require a considerable chill period during the winter and don’t do well south of USDA Zone 7. You are on the 7b and 8a line. We would say give it a try and maybe also plant a miss Kim or a Bomerang.

new lilac bush

I planted a new young lilac bush in mid September. I live in Midwestern Ontario Canada. as weather got cold leaves turned and fell off. It is now mid November but we have had a a warm spell and when I went out to wrap it in burlap for winter I noticed healthy green buds on the stems. Does this mean that they will freeze off and I wont have flowers in the spring. Is there something I should do with the plant now

Hi Brenda,

Hi Brenda,

Lilacs set next year’s buds on old wood, so the buds that you see are going to be fine during the winter. The only threat to the buds is if you get a late freeze in the spring after the buds have started to open.


Hi, I live in Houston, zone

Hi, I live in Houston, zone 9a. I really like lilacs and planning to buy but I am not sure if it will grow well due to Houston weather :( It's really hot, especially in summer. What do you think?

You can try Bloomerang, Blue

You can try Bloomerang, Blue Skies, Superba or Miss Kim lilacs. Zone 9 is too hot for most of the traditional lilacs.
Good luck!

We bought 3 Miss Kim Lilacs

We bought 3 Miss Kim Lilacs in the start of summer. My husband is now wanting to move one of the lilacs. Is it okay to move it now? We live in Mount Airy NC thank you.

Hi Sherry, Fall is a good

Hi Sherry,
Fall is a good time to transplant the lilac. Make sure to get as much as you can of the root system and water well after its been moved to the new location.

I live in Northern Alberta,

I live in Northern Alberta, Canada and just purchased a very healthy looking deep purple lilac bush about 2 ft. high. The top leaves on the stems are turning a deep dark purple almost black. I am sure they are going to fall off. I wonder what has happened to it.
We have lots of lilacs up here and they are
Any ideas? Thanks

I live in Northern Alberta,

I live in Northern Alberta, Canada and just purchased a very healthy looking deep purple lilac bush about 2 ft. high. The top leaves on the stems are turning a deep dark purple almost black. I am sure they are going to fall off. I wonder what has happened to it.
We have lots of lilacs up here and they are
Any ideas? Thanks

I received two lilac bushes

I received two lilac bushes for Mother's Day. I planted them according to the instructions and they seem to do well. We had an unusually wet spring and early summer, but now the hot weather has set in an the leaves are turning brown, drying up and falling off. Do you think it could be lack of water (they get watered every two to three days) or are they getting too much water? I'm concerned that with winter coming on I might lose them if they are not strong and healthy.

The only way to know for sure

The only way to know for sure if they are getting enough water is to dig down 4-6 inches (with your hands) to see how wet the soil is at root level. Too much water and too little have the same symptoms - those brown leaves. Frequent shallow watering isn't as effective as weekly deep watering. It is common for new transplants to lose some roots and your plants might not have developed enough new roots to support rapid leaf growth and now those leaves are dying back. If the stems are also turning black and dying that is a sign of bacterial blight. Cut back any affected stems to 10-12 inches below the rotten part with sterile clippers.

Hello. I have a lilac tree,

Hello. I have a lilac tree, it's very small (about 2ft in diameter, 5 ft high) and in a container, it looks almost like a bonsai. I used some shrub fertilizer in it about two weeks ago and now, out of the blue, about 1/3rd of the leaves are dried up and crusty, not wilted, but dried up. I have not changed anything else, I've watered it the way I always do and it's always been bright and healthy. I noticed you said not to use too much nitrogen so I'm pretty sure the fertilizer is the culprit, but what I'm wondering is, will it recover next year or did I kill it? Is there anything I can do to try and fix this if it was from the nitrogen based fertilizer? Again, it was about 1/3rd that's currently showing signs of damage.

Hi Sarah, If 2/3 of the tree

Hi Sarah,
If 2/3 of the tree looks healthy it will probably come back next year. Make sure to water it well and if you have harsh winters you may want to add mulch aorund the container or place the container in a protected area.

So my husband just bought me

So my husband just bought me a lilac bush two days ago from an auction it has barely any leaves on it but the leaves that it does have are a nice darkish green and look fairly healthy. Its about three and a half feet tall but most of the stems are completely bare, is this normal for lilacs in the summer or has this poor thing been neglected? If it has been neglected, is there anything less drastic then cutting it down to six to eight inches and waiting years for it to grow back that I can do for it now during the summer without damaging it further?

Hi! I just bought a lilac

I just bought a lilac from your company. I live in Peoria az. I had a lilac bush a few years ago that lived 2 years and then died.( my sister didn't water it when I moved )
Im hoping for good results with this one too!!

Hi, lilac lover, We do not

Hi, lilac lover, We do not sell plants, so I'm not sure where you bought yours, but we wish you all the best!

Our Lilac tree, re bloomed on

Our Lilac tree, re bloomed on August 1 this year. Should we prune it a bit now or wait til next year after it blooms in spring. Appleton, WI

Hi Sue, Pruning (removing the

Hi Sue,
Pruning (removing the faded flowers) after each bloom cycle helps ensure good flowering during the next spring and late summer cycle.

We trim our lilac bush every

We trim our lilac bush every few years when it gets really tall. This year, we trimmed it after it bloomed like always. We had big dead branches down in the middle and one was old and rotten so I broke it off. The bush seem to look dead and still does. What did I do to it?

It's always wise to remove

It's always wise to remove any dead or broken branches when pruning an older bush. Look around the bottom of the bush to see if you have any new growth or suckers. Add some lime and compost to the soil and wait until next spring to see if the bush will survive.

I live in WI and I have a

I live in WI and I have a lilac bush, it's about 5 yr old. My dad pruned it at the wrong time. It blooms very little every year. How can I salvage it? And how can I keep the morning glories from choking it? A few years ago my sister rotartilled the old dried up vines in the garden and now I have non stopping growing morning glories over powering. I am constantly pulling them. I sure could use some help.

Hi, Abby, Lots to deal with

Hi, Abby, Lots to deal with here. First, are you sure that you have morning glories, the self-seeding annual, or is it more likely that you have binderweed, the invasive weed? We think it's bindweed, or field bindweed, aka  false morning glory. It has plagued fields, farms, and yards for years. Here are some suggestions from a coop extension in your state—more than we could tell you here. Go to this link and click on the pdf below the "Description" information:
As for the lilac, don't be too hard on your dad; you might really appreciate his help elminating the bindweed. There is probably more going on with the lilac than the effects of a pruning sometime in the past. For example, you may have a variety that is not hardy in your part of Wisconsin. Or it may be getting too much nitrogen. Or not enough sun. Click on this link; it's a pdf with details about lilac varieties and care from the same Wisconsin source:
We hope this helps.

Last fall Calgary had two

Last fall Calgary had two freak snow storms during the evening (after midnight)with wet snow that clung to the large leaves and trees.After the first snow storm my son and I where able to shake the wet snow from the canopy of the lilacs.However after the second snow storm the weight of the wet snow managed to break the trees just below the canopy like a Chinese lantern.Our arborist recommended that we cut the tree back close to the ground to let it rejuvenate, it was cut back in the winter when the trees were dormant. This spring it has had new growth from the remaining stumps,however I really want to prune it so it becomes a tree (like it was before it was cut back) not a shrub like it is currently.How and when do you recommend to do this without killing the tree that was put into shock so much since last fall?The trees are old ( planted in the early 80's) but the roots are well established, in a sunny well watered area.How long do you think it will take to recover and bloom again.Imiss the original trees as the were great for privacy ,and spring fragrance and color. Thank you ,Lana Crichton

Cut out all the thin suckers

Cut out all the thin suckers coming up around the plant at the base. Then check the lilac when it is dormant to select the shrub's strongest two or three branches and remove all others.

I have a vine plant that is

I have a vine plant that is growing and wrapping around my lilac bushes. it is a thin plant and it seems to be chocking the lilac stems and causing them to die. what could it be and can it be eradicated safely with out ant further damage to the lilac bush.

Not knowing what type of vine

Not knowing what type of vine you have it's hard to give advice. You can try to cut the vines back to soil level as soon as you see them. You can dig down a bit to see if the vine has spreading roots or if you can dig up the roots. Take a piece of the vine to your local nursery and see if they can identify it. Some people use Roundup on just the plants they want to get rid of. There are not many organic alternatives to Roundup.

I have moved into a house in

I have moved into a house in Cape Breton on the ocean coast. There is an about 10yr old lilac. It got blossoms, but just as they were to flower, they turned brown and dry. Has anyone any idea why

They dont flower for long.

They dont flower for long. When the flower browns and shrivels it means its dead already.

Sometimes if they get soggy they will die quick also. The Maine has been plastered with rain. Most of my flowers are browning already also.

THANK YOU so much for such a

THANK YOU so much for such a thorough and interesting article. I haven't found much on lilacs and this answers every question I had. It's fabulous and keep up the great work. I appreciate it very much.

I have a reblooming lilac. It

I have a reblooming lilac. It blooms in the spring then again in the summer. Do I cut off the old blooms that bloomed in the spring or just leave it alone? I live in WV.

Hi Carla, Cut off the faded

Hi Carla,

Cut off the faded flowers in the spring. This will ecourage more and better flowers for the rebloom.

I find all of your planting

I find all of your planting information useless. You say zones 3,4,5,6,7, for planting Lilacs. ALl good and well. there is NO map to tell me what zone I'm in. Until you post a zone map with your articles I have no use for your information. By the way I am in Chicago, Illinois

Zone maps are the same for

Zone maps are the same for all plants. Just search online for a zone map and it will tell you what zone you live in.

You might want to learn how

You might want to learn how to use a computer before you go spewing uselessness. The dark letters with dark numbers are your zone. Click on that and you may just learn something....

I'm sure it is assumed you

I'm sure it is assumed you know your zone. You can look it up elsewhere, but it is information the most basic gardener usually knows.

I don't know my

I don't know my zone........South Florida????

That is cool

That is cool

Go to

Go to to find a link to the USDA zone map. 

Seriously? You should know

Seriously? You should know your own zone. Research it online by Googling "USDA Climate Zones".

There is this really cool

There is this really cool website called Google where you can look up things you don't know. Welcome to 2015. (You're in zone 5 by the way)

Zone Question

If you are in Chicago, you are Zone 5. Google will tell you this.

Can Lilac bushes be planted

Can Lilac bushes be planted in rock?

I have a lilac bush that I

I have a lilac bush that I planted 3 to 4 years ago, it is planted on the east side of my house in east TN. I realize that I have not gotten the suckers off and not put lime out in the fall, but it has never bloomed. What else am I doing wrong?

Hi, I bought a dwarf korean

Hi, I bought a dwarf korean lilac tree exactly a year ago. When I bought it it was in full bloom but after the spring it didn't bloom again in the summer. The leafs looked a bit weak and there were little white dots on the branches. For the winter I wrapped it with burlap and when the first signes of spring showed I took the burlap out. A couple of weeks ago I could see some blooms and I can see some leafs starting to grow now but the blooms seem dry. The white dots on the branches are still there and there is something like cobwebs (a few). Any suggestions?

All lilac species are once a

All lilac species are once a year bloomers, with the exception of the newly released 'Bloomerang' and 'Bloomerang Purple' from Proven Winners. The white dots on the trunk and branches are called lenticels. They are part of the tree and aid the tree in "breathing". They are completely normal and actually beneficial. The cobwebs on the tree might be a type of web worm. Remove the webs with a stick and crush any caterpillars you might find. If that is too gruesome, you can place the caterpillars into a bucket of soapy water overnight then dump them out. You may have a few blooms this year because it was newly planted last year. Be patient, it will come back beautifully by next year.

I brought home a Bloomerang

I brought home a Bloomerang purple syringa lilac bush from N.J. to Georgia. Is it going to be too hot for it here? Where would be the best place to plant it?

That particular lilac is

That particular lilac is hardy from zones 3-7. It should be planted in an area with full sun in soil with good drainage.

I live on Long Island, ny. I

I live on Long Island, ny. I have 2 30+year old lilacs. For many years they were not tended to. 3 years ago I pruned them and followed your advice above. One of them has grown to 8+ feet and only had about 12 blooms. This one dies feet more Sun than the other. the second one still has not bloomed and is only about 4 ft tall. Both do have suckers that I remove. What an I doing wrong? Is it possible that the smaller one will never bloom again?

Every summer, after the

Every summer, after the blooms that have appeared start to die, cut off those blooms. I cut off every bloom that shows and each year after more blooms come. This year I had a staggering amount of blooms! Cut them at a length where as pretending you will be putting them in a vase, even if they are dying and will only be thrown away. With the one that is not blooming, maybe try to do some pruning to shock into growing blooms next year?

I have lilac trees and they

I have lilac trees and they flower fine, But almost no leaves. Can you tell me why. I live in central Mass.

Hi Lisa, Make sure the trees

Hi Lisa,
Make sure the trees get enough sun and have good air circulation. You may need to prune a bit after they are done blooming. In the fall add some lime and compost to the soil.

I have had a lilac bush for

I have had a lilac bush for about 20 years. It has survived snow and ice storms. this year it appears to be completely dead. Does anyone know why? Our winter last year was not bad. I have never done anything with it. Why now?

It's hard to say why the bush

It's hard to say why the bush looks dead. Cut back all the dead branches from the old bush and look and see if there is any growth (sprouts) growing around the tree. You may be able to save some of these sprouts (you can leave them where they are or dig them up and replant them). Read our planting and care advice above for more information.

I bought a lilac bush from a

I bought a lilac bush from a nursery about three or four years ago which has since closed up.
The bush I bought they said would bloom through the summer.
It has bloomed in the more and more over the years in the spring but do not get much blooming later in the summer. Should I cut the flowers before they die off for more blooms
I live in NH.
thank you

I live in the Pacific

I live in the Pacific Northwest. I bought a lilac from a nursery and it was in bloom. The next year it grew and bloomed beautifully. This year only two blooms although it has grown significantly. The lower leaves have a brown curled spot on them and my husband claims there was a bug within the curl. My other lilac within close proximity has the same brown spot on it. No blooms this year, but did buy that as a small start two years ago. Please help. Thank you.

I am in Zone 5b and it is

I am in Zone 5b and it is May. My lilacs are blooming. I have friends wanting to transplant some of my suckers in their own gardens. Is it still possible to transplant the suckers even though they have leaves on?

Yes, you can transplant the

Yes, you can transplant the suckers now.

What is a sucker ive had two

What is a sucker ive had two lilac bushes that i planted when i moved in and get very few flowers

Suckers often emerge from the

Suckers often emerge from the base or roots of a tree and a way the plant grows. Often, we get rid of the suckers because the plant's energy is diverted to the sucker rather than to growth of the main plant.
There are several reasons lilacs do not bloom well. For example, they need lots of sun and lilacs in shade won't flower. Another reason is pruning at the wrong time (and removing the buds); lilacs should be pruned in the spring right after the flowers fade.

How do your tell the

How do your tell the difference between new growth from the root and suckers I have about 10 new stocks coming from the ground, after taking down a mature lilac that had very limited blooms.

I recently planted a "bare

I recently planted a "bare root" that I ordered online. They said it was a "Edward J. Gardner" lilac. I live in Tucson, AZ - am I pushing my luck with trying to include lilacs to my garden? I know it get very hot during the summer, but I was thinking if I shade her during the summer months so might be okay. I also, didn't realize they need a good cold winter to bloom, that part might be hard. Thanks for the insight!

The lilac you bought may not

The lilac you bought may not bloom in your USDA zone 9. It is rated for zones 3-7. There are varieties that grow in warm climates. Persian lilac (Syringa persica) is one. Planted in the shade it can survive temperatures over 100 degrees.

I live on a farm and we have

I live on a farm and we have a nice row of lilacs but the weeds are starting to take over. I pulled and hoed them last fall, but they are coming back. I would like to spray the weeds but am worried I will kill the lilacs. Is there a weed killer that won't harm the lilacs?

To avoid harming your lilacs,

To avoid harming your lilacs, use a weed/grass killer that has sethoxydim as the active ingredient.

I bought a big beautiful

I bought a big beautiful lilac from a local plant sale. I live in Northeasteen north carolin. It looked great then I brought it home did some research put it in a mostly sunny locatio. A few days later all the flowers fell off and now I'm getting brown spot. What's happening? ? =(

I recently moved from upstate

I recently moved from upstate NY to northeast FL, and really miss my lilacs. I've read that there are some varieties of lilacs that can grow here (zone 9a). Is that true? And if so, when is the best time to plant? Our soil is on the sandy side. Would that be a problem?
I would so love to have lilacs, but I'm not a gardener. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you

There are a few varieties

There are a few varieties that will grow as far south as zone 9. 'Blue Skies', 'Miss Kim' and 'Lavender Lady' are just a few. Best time to plant trees in Florida is in the winter and when the ground is moist.

I live 45 miles north of

I live 45 miles north of St.Paul, Mn and have had a Korean lilac tree for approx. 7years. Last spring we had some kind of bugs eating the tree at the base. We got rid of them and now 1/3 of the tree is dead and many sprouts are coming around the bottom. How can I help this tree and stop the sprouts from shooting up. Should I use mulch around the base? Thank you!

I live in east central

I live in east central Minnesota. My Lilac bush has green buds from bottom to top. Last year I thought maybe the deer roaming thru our farm were eating whatever buds they could reach, however, i keep reading that they are deer resistant. Do you know of any reason the buds only stay on the top branches and bloom??

Lilacs are considered more

Lilacs are considered more deer-resistant than most plants but also keep in mind that no plant is truly deer-resistant; this simply means that deer will pass up the lilac if there's something better available. 
When the lilac buds and blooms are too high to reach, it means you haven't been pruning your lilac. Start by removing at least one-third of the large, old stems at ground level in late winter. The next winter, prune out one-half of the remaining old stems.  See the pruning information on this page.

Hi, Recently I saw lilacs in

Hi, Recently I saw lilacs in pots at a local nursery, and I love lilacs! I want to buy one (a nice and small Madam Lemon, the white French kind) But I would like to keep it in a pot for a couple of years, as we are planning to redo the garden landscaping in a year or two.... the plant was not too big (only half a meter or so) do you think I can keep them in a pot or will they get upset for limited space for their roots? :) thanks in advance. also what would I need if I am keeping them in a pot? (any kind of fertilizers, change of the soil, etc.?) Would really appreciate any advice. as I wanna get them while they are there.... oh, also, Are they winter hardy? will they last outdoors in Toronto winters or should I put them in the basement if they are in a pot ? :) Thanks in Advance!

Lilacs can be grown in pots

Lilacs can be grown in pots (large containers are best) in the short term. They need lots of sun. Keep them well watered and add a handfull of 10-10-10 fertilizer to the pot when replanting. You need to protect the roots from freezing temperatures. If you leave them outdoors you can dig holes in a protected spot in your garden and bury the containers. Add some mulch around the stems. You can also store the lilacs in an unheated garage or a cool basement.

Thanks so much for quick

Thanks so much for quick reply! :)

Like my other outdoor

Like my other outdoor bonsai.. I can store this in my u heated garage and just keep the soil wet and not water as often?
My junipers and maples survived this winter. I put them inside around thanksgiving and brought them out as soon as it was nice out.

I live in an apartment, and

I live in an apartment, and am planting my first real balcony garden, I'd love to have a fragrant lilac tree/bush to admire. How to I go about planting one in a container and what species is best? Also, how do I keep it from dieing over the winter? (I live in Canada with very frigid winters)

I have been growing a Miss

I have been growing a Miss Kim in a pot for over 10yrs. Every other yr or so I transplant into new slightly larger pot with fresh microcell grow potting mix. I live in an apartment so in winter I cover with a plastic garbage bag and wrap bottom with old towels or blanket. Flowers every yr and very fragrant.

I have two lilacs between 15

I have two lilacs between 15 and 20 years old. A couple of years ago one started having small leaves with a red tint. The canes started dieting. It appears to be dead this year except there are a few suckers. Now the other bush has a cane starting to do the same thing and one dead cane. Do they die from old age or do I have a problem. The man who mows the lawn had been trimming away any suckers until I fenced it last year. Will the suckers contine to grow and make a new bush?

I'm in Minnesota and planted

I'm in Minnesota and planted three common purple two years ago. They are growing well, gaining in height and getting a few leaf buds now that it is warming up here - it's their third spring. Here's the thing: they have not had any blooms yet. I expected it the first year but not the second. What do you think?

So I was told you can take

So I was told you can take the suckers and transplant to another place for new plants. Is that true and do you have to do anything before you do it. Do you have to root them before you plant them and the best time to plant them. I live in Montana.

Plant suckers before buds

Plant suckers before buds emerge in the spring or after the leaves have dropped from the shrub in fall. Your best bet is to find 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 or directly in the ground. Water well.

I have a long bed of 5 Miss

I have a long bed of 5 Miss Kims that is 4 feet tall and about 5 years old. They bloom wonderfully but this last winter they suffered sever snow bank damage and about half of the stems were broken off near the ground, mostly on one side of the plant. Can I safely cut the plants back to 6-8 inches from the ground ? I realize I will have to wait several years for re bloom.

Hi Jeff, You have two

Hi Jeff,
You have two options. You can prune the bushes back to 6 to 8 inches now or you can prune the damaged branches and leave the stems that are healthy for now. The healthy stems may flower this spring and then you can prune them back right after blooming.

I live in Wisconsin, my Lilac

I live in Wisconsin, my Lilac Busch is about 15 years old, and is a beautiful braded tree. This winter the moles ate all the bark off the trunk from ground up about two feet. We just noticed it on Friday when the snow started to melt down. Is there anything we can do to save the tree/busch?

Hi, I transplanted some lilac

Hi, I transplanted some lilac shoots from my grandparents last year. They seemed to be thriving and just last night the deer (or someonone) tore off the tops with burgeoning buds. The canes are gnawed, split, and crushed. Is it bad to prune them back to where I can get a clean cut? And where do I cut? What can I do to deter them from grazing on the lilacs again? They also got my maples and arborvitae, but I'm most concerned about my lilacs because they are irreplaceable as we sold my grandparents' house last year. :(. Also, will cutting the tips off now alter the growth of the canes? It is early March and I am in Northern IL on the Wisconsin border, and it's a balmy mid-40's here the last few days. The canes were about 24" high. Thanks for any help. I do not want to damage them further.

Cut off the damaged sections

Cut off the damaged sections of the shoots. Lilacs are hardy plants and if the roots are healthy they will grow new shoots. To protect the lilacs from any further damage put up a simple fence around them.

Has anyone successfully

Has anyone successfully "tricked" their lilacs into delaying their blooms by a few weeks? My daughter is getting married in early June and asked me to grow all of her flowers for the event. One of the things she wants is white lilac as part of her arrangements. We live in CA, zone 8 and all of the lilacs in my yard usually bloom late March-late April. I went ahead and planted 3 yr old root stock plants in Oct. in 15 gallon buckets, and moved them to winter at a friends house that lives at a higher elevation - closer to zone 7. It's mid-Feb. now and we have had an incredibly warm winter so far and I am beginning to wonder if I should move the pots up higher - to NV, a zone 6b. I'm trying to delay the bloom to late, late May. Anyone have experience doing this and be willing to offer suggestions?

Anyone got an ice machine???

Anyone got an ice machine??? I imagine dumping a bucket or two of ice on the root zone daily would trick the tree into believing winter was still upon us. Good Luck - our wedding was April 25th in Gibsons BC. We had loads of white and purple lilacs just perfectly blooming at our wedding! So lovely. But whatever the flowers, her wedding will be amazing.

We bought our first home 2

We bought our first home 2 years ago in upstate South Carolina and have a large front yard to landscape. The yard gets full sun because there is only 1 tree. We have planted quite a few trees, but will take years to grow. My question is based on where we live, would lilacs be good to plant in our area?

Common lilacs (Syringa

Common lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) often have challenges in such warm regions. Often, they will get powdery mildew or borers. However, some horticulturists and readers seem to find that ‘Miss Kim’, a cultivar of Syringa patula, is a lilac that can take hot Southern conditions. You may also wish to consider the flowering tree, Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia species), which is often called the "lilac of the south."

Hey Lori! I'm Lori Batchler

Hey Lori! I'm Lori Batchler from upstate SC, Blacksburg. 50 miles from Greenville, SC and 50 from Charlotte, NC.
I have my lilac bush close to my house in full sun. It grows and blooms beautifully.

we just bought a couple

we just bought a couple buckets of old time lilacs from a guy in marietta sc and they are a hardy plant and grow well so you should have no issues if you prepare the ground as needed. call your local 4H office for recommendations

We lost half of our 30

We lost half of our 30 something year old hedgerow of Lilacs (along with 400 pine trees). We've got about 25 Lilacs left standing, in good shape and I want to transplant them now, just as Winter has arrived. They are 10-12' high, blocking our new view from the new house and we sorely need something to the South of our home (a desert currently, here in Colorado Springs).
I believe that because the Lilac Bushes are in a dormant state (with light snow on the ground), NOW might be the best time to shift them to new soil (mostly decomposed granite and whatever else was left from the forest fire). Is this a safe move right now? Otherwise, when is IDEAL to transplant? I know that I'll want to amend the soil where each plant is placed, then water in. Thanks, LKL

As long as the ground is not

As long as the ground is not frozen this is a good time to transplant lilacs. These are old lilacs and may have big root systems. Try to get as much as possible of the root system. Good luck.

I live in New Mexico and I

I live in New Mexico and I would defiantly wait for the last freeze, make sure you plant them well before the hot summer it can over stress them and they are already stressed by the transplant it's self..get a nice big rootball and lots of water for the first week or two..

We moved into a house 2 years

We moved into a house 2 years ago with 2 lilac bushes on the side of the house. They are only about 2 - 2 1/2 ft off the house. They are tall (about 6+ ft) and the backs that are against the house are just sticks, no leaves. The first year they did bloom but this year they only got about a total of 5 flowers between the two of them. I'm not sure whether to dig them up or just cut them low. What would you recommend with them being so close to the house? Thanks!

If you want to keep your

If you want to keep your lilac bushes, wait till after they bloom in Spring and then trim. NEVER trim lilac after June. It will take off next years flowers that start setting in July. (Cut to the ground,) any branches with no leaves on them, cut any that are touching the houses, and trim bush to look nice. Sprinkle bonemeal around the bushes to help with next years flowers.

I'm no expert, but I love lilacs and to search and find information about lilacs for me is fun. There are many sites that you can go check out like this one on the net. Do some searches and you will find tons of fellow lilac growers. Good luck and happy growing!

I am ready to plant out two

I am ready to plant out two small lilac shrubs and would like to put them in a garden bed on each side of our inground pool waterfall, this spot is in full sun all day.
I read from your responses to others that there should be at least 20 meters from domestic drains...would this apply to our concrete inground pool too?
Thank you.

They are likey to penetrate

They are likey to penetrate Water lines that leak but unlikely to break sound pipes. Lilac roots generally grow 1 to 1 1/2 times the width of the shrub. Try to plant them at least 8-10 feet from water or sewer lines to be safe.

How and when should I

How and when should I transplant my lilac bushes? I purchased a home and the previous owner planted lilac bushes under a big tree where the lilacs get little sun. Thank you for any guidance you can offer.

My lilac bush blooms in the

My lilac bush blooms in the spring. This year it is strating to bloom again. Should i be worried about it?

My wife had a lilac bush

My wife had a lilac bush about 3' tall planted on a slope at the corner of our paved driveway, There is a long log berm on one side to hold back the slope from the driveway and unfortunately in heavy rains (which we get a lot of) water
pours down through this corner area. She thought the plant would help prevent erosion of the soil in that spot. It doesn't, and mulch and soil got washed away so easily that I had to put a layer of garden stones over the area to help hold it. Needless to say the lilac is not thriving, leaves are brown and curling and falling off. Is there something I can do to help it survive in this location or would it be best to try to move it to a better drained are?

Hi Jeff, You will be better

Hi Jeff,
You will be better off moving the lilac to a different location. Depending on where you live you should do it as soon as possible, before the cold weather arrives. Look att our planting advice on this page for best results.

I purchased through the mail

I purchased through the mail a Lilac about 20 years ago. I planted it and it bloomed. Then for about 17 years it didn't. It remained no taller than about 2'. About 2 years ago it grew a side branch (still short)full of leaves and it had 2 blooms!!..also 2 more shoots from the main plant. I lost my husband and was forced to move from my home..I just felt the need to take the lilac with me. I figured I would lose roots, but it was small, so I gave it a try. That was Los Angeles, CA. I potted it around end of May..or 1st of June this yr. And yes, had to cut a large root. The leaves have begun to curl under, but the ends are FULL of leaf buds that seem to be sleeping but firm. I am now by the sea..Central Coast, CA. Do we have a chance?

Hi Lulu, Well...lilacs are

Hi Lulu,
Well...lilacs are typically cooler weather plants. Even here in TN (zone 7) is about as far south as the old fashioned lilac will grow.
Heat and humidity are not welcomed by lilacs and would be the reason for not blooming or growing to it's potential in your location.
After digging and potting your plant, it was certainly stressed, but, it does sound as though the plant is sleeping. Try to keep it in the 'coolest' area of your yard where it is not in direct path of the warm winds coming off the water. A shaded and protected area would be good. Keep watch so that the soil doesn't dry out and it should leaf out in spring. Best!

I live in north central

I live in north central Indiana. I bought a new lilac bush this spring and planted it appropriately. It is about knee high (too high for 5 gallon bucket). As this is my first lilac I need to know if i need to cover it this winter. Thanks Angie

Lilacs are very hardy and

Lilacs are very hardy and don't need much protection. Your bush is still very young so you can add some mulch to protect it from the really cold temps.

Hi, I took a sapling from my

Hi, I took a sapling from my grandmother's house in northwestern PA and have it in a pot at my house in southern Indiana just outside of Louisville KY. I am worried that it might freeze this winter if I plant it now. Would it survive indoors? How much sun would it need in the winter?

It would be best if you can

It would be best if you can plant the lilac outdoors as soon as possible. Water well and add mulch around the plant. See our planting advice above. Lilacs need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

I have a very old lilac hedge

I have a very old lilac hedge that runs along my fence. I just moved into this house and need to drastically cut it back. I don't think it has been pruned in 5-10 years and it is completely overgrown. I have had to trim the section that runs along the road even though it is fall here because the branches were stretching on to the street and disrupting the view of drivers. I would also like to cut about 1-2 feet off the top of the hedge but am wondering if I should wait until spring to do this? I live in Manitoba. Also, will cutting the top increase the number of leaves that grow further down? The hedge acts as privacy but because it has gotten so tall there aren't as many leaves lower down.

Wait till Spring after the

Wait till Spring after the lilacs flower and then prune. If you prune now, you will cut the flowers that are set for next Spring.
I love looking up information about Lilacs on the web. Hope this helps

I live in northern NJ on the

I live in northern NJ on the top of a mountain/hill and have 2 big, purple lilac bushes.
I have a few seedlings that have com up about 2ft. high or so and want to transplant them to another are close by. The soil here seems dry. Do I need to add lime or mircale grow?

Also, the seeds have been coming out brown for a couple of yrs or more. Is there something wrong with them?

Hi Bob, If your soil is dry

Hi Bob,
If your soil is dry or sandy add compost before planting the seedlings. See our planting and care advice above. Lilacs usually produce clusters of brown seed pods after flowering.

Thanks for the quick

Thanks for the quick response. I forgot to check this.
Compost meaning peat moss or something like that?
How many seedlings should I plant together to have success n do you how long with they take to get about 5/6 ft. high?

Compost is usually made by

Compost is usually made by gathering plant material, such as leaves, grass clippings, and vegetable peels, into a pile or bin and letting it decompose. You can find bags of compost at your local garden center. Don't plant the seedlings too close. Give them some room to develop roots. It will take a few years for the lilacs to grow 5 feet high.

I was wondering if the

I was wondering if the clusters of brown seeds that the lilacs produce, would grow easily n their own and produce new bushes or not?

Pale leaves? Last year, I

Pale leaves? Last year, I planted a row of lilacs I dug up from my mom's bushes. I have very sandy alkaline soil here, just northwest of the Twin Cities by about an hour. I added two new ones this year, and noticed that the older ones, while they otherwise look healthy, have very pale yellow leaves, not the nice dark green of the new ones. I mulch them with compost and a bit of bone meal in fall and spring and they had suckers this spring. They are about 4 feet from the road (and snow plow) and two feet from a natural gas line. Could this be harming them, maybe a leak? Or is it a nutrient deficiency? I am afraid to add lime to an already alkaline soil.

Yellow leaves can be caused

Yellow leaves can be caused by too much or too little water. If your road is salted in the winter that can contribute to the problems.
Spread a few inches of dry aged manure around the lilacs in early spring and midsummer next year. The aged manure helps replenish nutrients to the soil and the manure also helps in moisture retention.

I live in Sac CA and have a 8

I live in Sac CA and have a 8 yr established dwarf korean lilac. I noticed this year there are less leaves and blooms. Recently I noticed portions of my bush are dying and the leaves are drying from the ends inward. What can I do to try and save this once beautiful bush?

Your problems can be weather

Your problems can be weather related. Hot dry summers or harsh winters can cause a lilac to not put out as many leaves as usual. Have you checked the soil? Potassium and/or magnesium deficiency can cause a lilac not to grow well. Diseases and bugs can also cause leaves and branches to die. Remove and discard the dying branches and inspect for insects. Water well.

I would like to plant my

I would like to plant my "Miss Kim" Lilac in a small bed in front of a lamp post. Any problem keeping it pruned short to avoid it blocking the post and lamp too much? Will the roots be an issue?

Hi I bought a lilac plant

Hi I bought a lilac plant about 12 inches high and I planted it in my garden
somebody stood on it and broke it completely off from where it come above the soil
I found it 5 days later is it possible to take cuttings of it or is it to late.

Hi, Eugene: Although somewhat

Hi, Eugene: Although somewhat difficult, it is indeed possible to grow lilacs from cuttings, but the cuttings need to be relatively fresh -- which yours don't seem to be. That being said, you've got nothing to lose, so dip the cutting ends in water and then in rooting hormone (ask your garden center), and then put them in some (continually) moist peat pots deep enough so that they don't fall over. Keep them well misted and lit for at least a month. Eventually, give them a little tug to see if you get resistance -- then you'll know. In the meantime, nurture what remains in the ground by making sure that it does not dry out. Good luck!



I received a cutting from a neighbour, a few years back, and planted it in a pot...the first year, or so, it was growing nice and green...slow growth, but, still, it kept growing...the last two years...I have had to pick off browning leaves...I still have it in the pot, as, it has not outgrown it yet...I keep it on a table next to my cottage door...what do I do about this browning leaf problem?...It is still, only about 2 feet tall...has little baby growths, starting at the dirt level, as well.
When, will it start producing buds for flowers? Should I compost around it? When to transplant to bigger pot?
Thankyou, Layna in Vancouver, Canada.

Hi, Layna: This is your

Hi, Layna: This is your lilac's way of saying, Get me out of here! Yes, it's time to transplant to unlimited soil and sunlight--and all will be well! Good luck!

I recently planted a young

I recently planted a young Dwarf lilac, its been a week and a half or so since I planted it. Roots were in a huge ball in the planter, but I didnt see any rope or burlap that needed removing. We have had good rainfall amounts so I don't think it's thirsty, but its leaves are drying up and brittle. I'm told it may still be suffering transplant shock but I'm worried that maybe I should have un-balled the roots or planted it deeper then I did. I listened to my mother when she said to just take it out of the planter and plop it in the ground as I have never planted anything before. SHould I dig it back up and check the roots, then plant it deeper or leave it be and place some compost or plant sticks around it? I don't know what to do but it's my 1st plant so Im a bit attached to it and worried that I killed it somehow.

You didn't mention where you

You didn't mention where you live. Generally the best time to plant a lilac is in the fall or spring. Leave the lilac in the ground for now and try to shade it if you have hot weather. Make sure that the soil is moist.

Madison, WI I planted some

Madison, WI
I planted some very young lilacs this summer and they are now about 7" tall. Chances are they will be completely covered with snow this winter. Is there anything special I should do to protect the little guys?

What if you try covering them

What if you try covering them with 5 gallon buckets, you can get them from local restaurants. It will protect the fragile branches from being broken.

Hello I purchased a 5 Gallon

Hello I purchased a 5 Gallon Miss Kim Lilac this spring (May 10), planted it and last week it was accidently cut off at the root by a bobcat tractor. The root is still in the ground but the plant is totally gone. Just wondering if there is any hope of it coming back? I plan on returning to the nursery to purchase another but not sure if I should dig up the root base of the existing one? Thanks

Hi, Gail: We wouldn't give up

Hi, Gail: We wouldn't give up on it. Chances are that it will put up new shoots and in 3 or 4 years you will be back in business!

my husband "accidently" ran

my husband "accidently" ran over one of mine with the lawn mower, if there is enough root, it will come up again.

I recently transplanted a

I recently transplanted a lilac bush. Some of the leaves that were green are now brown. Should I trim all the branches? Is there any hope to save it?

It sounds like stress from

It sounds like stress from being dried out. Lilacs need deep and infrequent watering not shallow, frequent watering. You can water about 9 to 12 inches deep in one go, then wait until the ground is dry down to 6 inches deep, then repeat. We would also mist the leaves of a newly planted lilac.
Do not prune it! That's more stress. Do not overwater. Do not fertilize. If the plant is still green beneath the bark, there is a chance for recovery. Continue with normal care and see if it recovers. If it's too far gone, you'll need a new plant. Good luck!

30 years ago, my wife and I

30 years ago, my wife and I saw lilacs 25-35 feet tall with 6-8 inch dia trunks. They were limbless to about 10 feet above the concrete and had a 12 to 16 foot dia drip line. There were more than 6 trees planted in 4 foot dia holes ( one tree per hole, no suckers/shoots, just trunk) in a concrete patio in Woodville Idaho. Assuming they were grafted what would be a good choice for root/trunk stock?

I have pink and purple lilac

I have pink and purple lilac bushes in my garden. The leaves on the pink flowering bushes are discolouring and there are bracket fungus growing heavily along the base of the bush. Im not sure what kind of bracket it is but has similar colourings to the Turkey fungus. The brackets continue up along the trunk about 5 feet gradually getting smaller and tapering off. The purple flowering bush does not seem affected by this and is about 4 feet away. However the other two pink ones that are some distance away have the same problem. Please help! I would hate to lose the bushes but do not want to lose my garden at the expense of a few bushes. How do I eradicate the fungus and get my lilacs healthy again?

There are several types of

There are several types of bracket fungi. These fungi usually attack old and weak trees and bushes after a tree has been damaged by man or nature. Some suggest to remove branches with the fungi to prevent further spread and also to improve the soil and growing conditions. The fungi likes moisture so make sure the soil drains well and that the lilacs don't stand in wet soil. There is not much else you can do. 

We received as a gift a

We received as a gift a little twiggy, slender lilac sapling my friend's dad had begun. We were told to plant in a sunny spot and add MiracleGro to the dirt and to water it daily. We live in Southern California and it has been a very dry, hot spring and summer, so we make sure the ground is always watered. The tree leaves are wilted, curling under but still look green, but we are not seeing any new growth...did we kill it? Please advise..

You may be choking the roots

You may be choking the roots with too much water. Make sure the site drains well.

In CA you could also be

In CA you could also be experiencing Aphids. They live tender weakened leaves.aybe at a health food you you can find Diatomatious Earth and sprinkle it on the plant if ylu see Aphids. DE makes quick work of killing off Aphids...took me years to find out abput it, but is not a chemical and can also be sprinkled on rugs bedding or furniture (as well as pets) for flea control! Leave on bedding etc and vacuum up after a day or two...reapply to kill off any eggs that may of hatched. 

I have a wooden fence around

I have a wooden fence around my back yard and want to plant lilacs in two back corners. How far out from the fences should I plant them?

Lilac roots can spread 8 feet

Lilac roots can spread 8 feet or more. And one source suggests keeping it 20 feet from any domestic drainage pipes or the like.

Please tell me if Lilacs can

Please tell me if Lilacs can be grown in New Port Richey, Florida. Central West Coast. Thank You.

In general, the common lilac

In general, the common lilac (Syringa) doesn't thrive in Florida's climate. A plant with a similar look is crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) however it doesn't have that same lilac scent.

I live in the Florida

I live in the Florida Panhandle, Plant Hardiness Zone 8b. Would it be possible to grow lilacs here? I already have plenty of crepe myrtles but miss my mother's lilac from Michigan.

Hello! Last year we planted

Hello! Last year we planted three tall lilacs in our backyard and are having issues with droopy leaves. We thought we killed them last year, but they have come back. They are planted in an area with full sun, are spaced appropriately and we are careful not to over water or over fertilize. Unfortunately we can't seem to get them looking healthy. Last night we had an intense thunderstorm and I noticed they are looking much better this morning. I've heard storms add nitrogen to soil. Could this be my issue? Thanks!

I just transplanted some

I just transplanted some lilac suckers at my home in central mn on June 7th that already leafed out. Of 8 plants 3 are showing some transplant stress but the rest look normal the stressed plants are about 3 feet high. Will these 8 plants be ok seeing that they have leafed out before transplanting.

A transplanted lilac may take

A transplanted lilac may take 1 to 3 years for it to recover and bloom. Hang in there!

We would like to plant some

We would like to plant some Miss Kim Lilac shrubs to provide some privacy to our back yard. We live in a condo community where we need to get the board's approval to do this. We have submitted our request but the board is concerned about the roots of the shrubs since we'd like to plant the lilacs in a spot that is about 10 feet from a leeching field. Can you tell me anything about how big the root system would get for these lilacs? Thanks!

Lilac roots can spread 8 feet

Lilac roots can spread 8 feet or more. And one source suggests keeping it 20 feet from any domestic drainage pipes or the like.

I wanted to know if it would

I wanted to know if it would be ok to transplant the lilacs coming up next to my big lilacs in between my row of pine trees. Would the soil with all the pine needles be good for it?

Pine trees are tough. They

Pine trees are tough. They suck up moisture, cast lots of shade, and are generally not especially hospitable. Lilacs are not the best choice as they require lots of sun and moisture. If you wish to plant near the pine, the best options are plants that tolerate some shade, acidic soil, and low moisture. Examples: hydrangea, azalea, rhododendron, and bleeding heart.

I live just north of

I live just north of Minnesota in Ontario and have a Korean Dwarf Lilac. Most trees have leaves now, but my Korean has green branches but no leaves and the buds don't look that healthy. Is it possible it is just late? We had an extremely cold winter. Or is it dying? What can I do?

The Korean dwarf lilac is a

The Korean dwarf lilac is a late bloomer. It usually blooms in late May early June in northern regions. If the branches are still green it's alive and hopefully will bloom soon.

We live in Colorado, and our

We live in Colorado, and our soil contains quite a bit of clay. We planted two lilac shrubs on Sunday, (it's Tuesday) and the leaves are starting to curl. We dug twice as deep and twice as wide before planting the shrubs, and filled with half gardening soil and half native soil. Do you have any recommendations? I've been watering them a decent amount so they can get established, but I wouldn't say overwatering. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

I hate to argue with Almanac,

I hate to argue with Almanac, however, you list the zone for lilac bushes as "3." Other sites show up to zone 7, and get this... we grow lilacs ALL THE TIME in Sacramento, California where we are zone 9! We don't just grow the "California" version either. Sacramento has a couple of months of frost each winter and lilacs LOVE it here.

Hello Viki, Thanks for

Hello Viki,
Thanks for pointing this out. In editing this page the zone range was not picked up correctly. Most lilacs are hardy in zones 3 to 7. You are lucky to grow lilacs in zone 9.

I have two healthy lilacs on

I have two healthy lilacs on the east side of my home in Sacramento. One is from a one gallon dying bush that I bought for $2.50 several years ago and the other is from one if its seedlings. My lilacs seem to love Sacramento. Or maybe they just love me.

My Beauty of Moscow was

My Beauty of Moscow was accidently mowed on June 1st. What can I do to save the plant It was approximately 1 foot high.

Hi, Helen, This is not

Hi, Helen, This is not something we have direct experience with (yet), so we'll tell you what we would do. Wait a while. Hopefully, the mower blade was set high and there is something left of the plant, some shred of a stem. It might have enough root to come back from this. If/when it makes an adequate recovery (as seen by new growth), then gently clear the grass from around it and mulch it. In the meantime, make sure that it is clearly marked on your property. You don't want someone stepping on it. Or mowing it again. Good luck!

I bought a very healthy

I bought a very healthy looking 4-feet tall Little Kim Lilac in a pot, it was full of blooms.

I was busy so it was left inside the garage for 3 days, after I took it outside and watered it, the next day the leafs were all curled up and blooms look wilted and lost their fragrance.

Is it dying because it was kept inside for 3 days or did I give it too much water? is there a way to make it come back to how it was? Thanks.

This is a generally

This is a generally low-maintenance variety; however, it likes full sun and medium water. If the garage takes direct sun and it was closed, it may have become oppressively hot in there and weakened the plant. A full soak or two, allowed to drain off, in moderate sun could help but it could take a couple or a few days. In the meantime, consult the folks that you bought it from or a local nursery.

I have a lilac bush that has

I have a lilac bush that has been therefor 5 years. I fertilized my lawn ( next to the bush) and sprayed a weed killer on same lawn this year. The lilac was very happy and blooming and now some blooms are dead in their tracks and the leaves are wilting in some spots, but not the whole bush. Please help! Have I killed it?

We can't tell if you killed

We can't tell if you killed it, Amanda, but the chemicals could certainly be affecting it. Read the labels on the ferilizer and weed killer packaging. (If you discarded it after using, revisit your source and read it there.) Some provide warnings about use near other plants, and many provide phone numbers for specific questions such as this. Call and ask about the ingredients (especially the weed killer's components) and what effect they might have. They might advise watering to dilute; you won't know what to do until you know what it is.

I live in Buffalo New York

I live in Buffalo New York and have a lilac bush that is many years old.. for years the flowers have been all over the bush and plentiful but now the just grow at the top (for the past 2 years or so ) . Please help I love lliacs but would love to see more flowers ???

Hi Lisa, This is a common

Hi Lisa, This is a common question. Many old lilacs only flower at the top--and you really do want those gorgeous fragrant lilacs at eye-level.
The best practice is to cut back the entire plant within 6 to 8 inches of the ground before they leaf out (usually March or early April). You won't get flowers the first season but this severe pruning induces shoots to develop during the growing season. The following year, select the strongest, healthiest shoots and cut back to just above the bud to encourage branching. Remove all other shoots at ground level.
Or, for a more reserved approach, try a three-year program: Chop off one-third of all the older canes back as close to the ground as possible. The plant will send up a flush of leafy growth that should bud this summer and look better next year. Repeat the process every year until you have pruned all the older canes. Don't prune too late (after July) or you remove the flower buds for the next growing season.

I recently bought 3 lilac

I recently bought 3 lilac bushes, I planted them last weekend. I have been watering them regularly, some of the leaves are turning dark green and curlying under. Am I over watering or is something else happening? I am just starting to try and plant things. My soil is very sandy, I put composte and top soil into the holes that I dug. Thank you for any information!!

Curling leaves are often a

Curling leaves are often a sign of dryness. Try digging into the soil to see if the moisture is getting to the roots. Your noting that your soil is sandy is a clue, even if you did the right things by adding compost and soil. The question is, is there enough of these ingredients for the plant to have a chance to absorb the water? Although lilacs don't like to sit in water, water passes quickly through sand—maybe too quickly for your plant to get any. Water more often, even laying the hose running lightly to moderately (not gushing and pushing soil around) and see if there is improvement. You might have to remove it, enlarge the hole, add more compost and soil, even peat moss (which holds water), and replant.

I recently bought lilacs

I recently bought lilacs (syringa vulgaris) and not sure how to plant them. Said to plant now but first soak the roots for several hours in hours. Is this what I should do? Not sure how to plant too ( no green thumb here). I know you said spring and fall is the best time to plant. I live in Central PA..

Miss Angie, We would never

Miss Angie, We would never argue with directions on a plant tag. Soak the roots in a bucket or under a running hose or the like until saturated. This will help them adjust to being underground, however, you still meed to water the plant in its new spot.
See "Planting" above for more advice on planting. (Note that we say above that lilacs do not like "wet feet," but yours says right on it to soak it. If you have further questions about that, you might consult the source from which you got the plant.)
Enjoy it!

I live in MA and have 5 old

I live in MA and have 5 old fashioned purple lilacs lining my property line. I bought and planted then 5 years ago, and even the first year-when the nursery deemed them dead, once we got them home and planted they shot up, out and bloomed profusely. They've done beautifully each year up until now. This year we have TONS of blooms on each plant, but 4/5 have almost no leaves. There don't appear to be any signs of distress,mold, borers etc..and we've had an "average" spring with normal rain, and temps, but we did have a bitingly cold winter. Any ideas one why the plants would be in full bloom but with minimal leaves?!

Thanks in advance!

The severe winter can have

The severe winter can have caused some of the leaf problems. We recommend that you add bonemeal and compost to the soil around the lilacs and also add some mulch on top to keep the soil nice and moist. After the blooms have faded prune out any dead branches and cut some of the longer branches.

Four years ago I got lilac

Four years ago I got lilac cuttings for a gift and planted them in my yard in full sun. The purple bush is now about 6 feet tall and very lush but only has a few blooms at the top ( 2nd year of blooms). The white plant is smaller and has more blooms. The flowers are gorgeous! How do I get my large bush to flower more? The bush looks like it's thriving but hardly any flowers! Thanks for any advice,
Ruth Joress

Lilacs need time to mature

Lilacs need time to mature before they begin flowering. Your plants are still young. The blooms for the first few years will be sparse but should increase with time. Most varieties start blooming after three or four years.

I live in south central

I live in south central Alaska. I planted a lilac bush in a tractor tire with a foot radius and 7 inch depth. will the roots be able to spread under the tire.

Lilacs do not like to be

Lilacs do not like to be planted too deep but 7 inches is a bit shallow; recommended depth is about 12 inches. If the tire is only a ring around the tree and and not a true container, the plant's roots should grow into the ground. Your bigger question is will it survive a hungry moose. See http://www.alaskamastergardene... for Alaska Master Gardeners' thoughts on this.

I have a lilac tree on the

I have a lilac tree on the corner of my house. I can't tell you how old it is because it was here when we moved in. It is taller then the house and does have some flowers on it. The problem is the roots are so huge its pushing the foundation. So, how do I like get rid of those with out killing the tree?

oh yea i live in jackson

oh yea i live in jackson michigan... the roots are very deep and are as big around as a bar on a grill guard for a truck.

Hi, Gretchen, It would be

Hi, Gretchen,
It would be difficult to impossible to save the tree if you remove the roots. You could move the tree, and from sound of the size of it, that would be a major undertaking. But it would eliminate the roots. We suggest that you contact a professional arborman or woman for an opinion.

Good Morning, I would like

Good Morning,
I would like to plant my lilac bush near my windows but I'm worried about planting to close to the house. How far should it be away from the house?
Thank you!

Hi, Ellie, Consider this:

Hi, Ellie, Consider this: lilac roots can spread 8 feet or more. And one source suggests keeping it 20 feet from any domestic drainage pipes or the like. It really depends on how much space you have.
Best wishes!

I live in upstate SC near the

I live in upstate SC near the mountains. I planted a lilac in my new neighborhood yard last spring. It had a little bloom. We had a ton of rain. It dropped all leaves and looked dead for the rest of the year but came back this spring. This year, we had a late freeze but a few weeks ago, it bloomed and looked very healthy. Now the blooms and leaves are dead again....Its only May but we had hot weather. I have been watering. It gets about 6 hours of sun no evening sun. Why do the leaves keep dying off? We have red clayish soil.

Lilacs drop leaves if they

Lilacs drop leaves if they get too much water or too little water. You clay soil is not the best choice for lilacs. Try amending the soil around the lilac with compost and sand. Then add some mulch to the top of the soil.

Hi, I have a lilac bush

Hi, I have a lilac bush that's about 5 yrs old planted on the west side of my apt that has never bloomed. It's right next to the brick of my apt. I'm wondering if it may be too hot in the summer and not getting enough sunlight? It's still only about 2 feet tall. Should I transplant it into a large container? Our apts won't let us plant out in the yard and I'm in a four-plex type apt so I've got western and southern exposure in my part of the yard and we have a large live oak in the yard next door to me so my front yard gets shade for most of the morning and then the late afternoon sunlight. I'm in Weatherford, Texas. Thank you for any help you can give me!

Hi Joan, Growing lilacs in

Hi Joan,
Growing lilacs in Texas can be tricky. Not knowing what variety of lilac you have you can try to plant it in a container and see what happens. You need a lilac variety that is heat tolerant and accepts mild winters. The cut-leaf lilac with small clusters of fragrant flowers will do well. Here are a few other lilacs that also do well in the south: 'Lavender Lady', 'Blue Boy, 'Sylvan Beauty'  and 'Miss Kim'.

I have lilac trees that have

I have lilac trees that have white stuff on them, what can I do to preserve them? had another one further away from the ones now that got the white stuff on it and it did die for me but that has been a couple years. what can I do??

Powdery mildew, a fungus, is

Powdery mildew, a fungus, is common on lilacs in humid conditions and little air circulation. It usually doesn't harm the lilac but you can treat it with horticultural oils found at garden centers.

Hi, I'm over in the UK and

Hi, I'm over in the UK and have just bought a Katherine havemeyer lilac. Admittedly, I bought it reduced as it is obviously last years stock. It has a trunk and 2 main branches with about 6 buds that havent bloomed yet but only about 5 leaves. Is this a problem? If so is it something that pruning will sort?

Just planted some lilacs from

Just planted some lilacs from the nursery and did not remove burlap and rope. I thought they disintegrated with time. Do I need to dig up and remove the burlap? Thanks for the advice.

Hi Rose, If the burlap is all

Hi Rose, If the burlap is all natural, it should rot over time. Sometimes folks aren't sure whether it's natural or synthetic material. (Natural material will burn while synthetic will melt.) Untreated natural burlap has a tan color and is biodegradable.

I just purchased a lilac

I just purchased a lilac brush. I would like to know if they are deer resistant or will the deer eat them?

Lilacs are deer resistant and

Lilacs are deer resistant and are one of the few deer resistant plants in my yard that the deer haven't at least sampled.

My son lives in Northeast

My son lives in Northeast Utah and has lilac bush growing on his side of a chain link fence, but his neighbor has the same bush which flowers more abundantly. Soon after the bush flowers, it seems to die back and leaves turn yellow and die off. I have read all the comments here, but don't seem to see a situation that would apply to him. His bush does get abundant sun exposure. Watering is not an issue as they have sprinklers in their yard. Any other suggestions?

Overwatering can sometimes

Overwatering can sometimes cause yellowing leaves; check if the soil offers enough drainage. Also, check for signs of insect pests or diseases, which can hamper the energy of the plant. Make sure the plant has enough air circulation as well. For more information, he might be interested in the following information about lilacs, from the Utah State University Cooperative Extension:
Here is information about the lilac-ash borer, one of the pests that can cause a decrease in plant vigor:

I have new purple lilac

I have new purple lilac plants...approx 12" tall. Some of the stems and outer edges of leaves are purple. Is this normal for these babies?

There are many varieties of

There are many varieties of lilac, and leaves can be green, bluish green, or varigated in color. Yours are probably fine.

Hey there lilac lovers, I

Hey there lilac lovers, I have a quick question for you all...I live in Buffalo, New York and I've always wanted lilacs in my yard, specifically purple. My question is what would be the best type of purple lilac to suit the climate here in Western New York? Also what would be the best month for me to plant it? (I am NOT looking to plant from seed) I do not have a very green thumb, so any tips or answers to my questions would be very much appreciated! Thank you! :)

Hi Maria, I live in Niagara

Hi Maria, I live in Niagara Falls Canada and have grown lilacs over the years here in zone 5 with no problems. They, whether shrubs or the trees are very vigorous, they will withstand our winters no problem! Plant the tree or shrub after May 24th.

According to your own Cornell

According to your own Cornell University (and other sources), common lilac (Syringa vulgaris), as the name implies, is the best known of all the lilacs in the United States. This shrub can be as tall as 20 feet, and the flowers are fragrant and usually lilac-colored, although they can be of other hues. Leaves are somewhat heart shaped and smooth.
If you want something more unusual and are convenient to Rochester, head to Highland Park Gardens for the lilac festival there on May 9 through 18. (Here ) Several varieties are named on this Web site. You will see numerous varieties in bloom, which might help you to make a decision.

Thank you so much to the

Thank you so much to the Almanac staff and Lena Grasso for responding to me so quickly and for the quality information. I really appreciate it! I am most certainly going to take the drive to Rochester for the Lilac Festival. It will be my 1st time there and I'm looking forward to it! I will update you guys once I purchase and get my lilacs in the ground! Thanks again! :)

Help! I was given a small

Help! I was given a small potted lilac bush five years ago. Two years ago we had buds that formed, but never opened. Last year all the buds opened and it was lovely! This year, however, we have the same problem as two years ago -- lots of buds, but none of them are open. All the lilac bushes in the neighborhood are in full bloom. Is there anything I can do to save my plant this season?

Was it indoors in the pot?

Was it indoors in the pot? Lilacs need a cold winter in order to grow and produce flowers.
Lilacs are pretty particular about the soil pH, too. Perhaps the container soil had become "old"—unsuitable?

I live in northeast Ohio and

I live in northeast Ohio and am trying to grow a lilac bush in a large pot, since I don't have a yard/garden for the time being. I bought my lilac last summer and it bloomed. In late fall I brought the plant indoors and it bloomed again, then turned brown and dry. I am not sure if it was hibernating or dying, but watered it periodically throughout the winter. I have had it back out on the balcony now for 2-3 weeks where it gets plenty of sun, but no signs of green leaves. Any advice for how I can help it come back, or when to leave it for dead? Is there any benefit to trimming back all the branches now while it still looks dead?

Lilacs need a cold winter in

Lilacs need a cold winter in order to grow and produce flowers. Although you meant well, your protecting it from last winter's cold contributed to its failure to thrive. Cut it back a bit at a time and see if you see any green(-edged), or fresh, wood. That would be a sign of life. If you do not, it is probably gone.

I have 2 regular purple lilac

I have 2 regular purple lilac shrubs in different spots of my yard. One is about 20 inches tall, 3 years old & has about 4 or 5 blooms on it right now. The other is about 3 feet tall, 2 years old (planted last year & loaded with blooms when I planted it), but it has yet to bloom. I have no idea why it hasn't flowered yet. It does get sun, but not as much as the other plant, as it's sitting alongside a fence under maple trees and next to a couple of short stubby azaleas.

A transplanted lilac may take

A transplanted lilac may take 1 to 3 years for it to recover and bloom.

Several years ago we

Several years ago we discovered a lilac in the woods here in central OK. We've cut down trees and brush around it so it gets more sun, watered it during dry spells, and tried to keep the grasshoppers at bay. It's growing bigger and obviously healthier now but so far not a single bloom. Do some lilacs never flower? (Are there males and females?) We've considered cuttings but don't want cuttings from a non-bloomer. Or maybe we should just wait? Any advice for this orphan lilac will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Lilacs generally need "chill"

Lilacs generally need "chill" hours to bloom; it will grow but it probably won't flower.

Not sure I understand.

Not sure I understand. Central OK has cold winters with lots of ice and snow at times -- and record low temps this past year. Plenty of chill time so no help there. Any other applicable reasons for a non-blooming lilac?

Lilacs can take 4-6 years

Lilacs can take 4-6 years establishing themselves.

I live in Yuma Arizona.

I live in Yuma Arizona. Would a lilac bush grow in this area?

The common lilac may grow but

The common lilac may grow but we doubt it will bloom as it needs chilling hours that are found in colder climates. Feel free to test it and prove us wrong! We recommend Crepe myrtles for warmer climates.

I just received my beauty of

I just received my beauty of moscow lilac plants. They are about 2' tall in pots and covered in leaves. I am in eastern Nebraska, should I plant them now or hold off for fall?

Hi Alison, It's best to get

Hi Alison,
It's best to get the lilacs in the ground as soon as possible. Read our planting advice on this page. Beauty of Moscow is a beautiful lilac. Good luck!

I live in Maryland and for

I live in Maryland and for the last two night we had freeze warning so I went and covered up my Lilac bush to keep frost off of it. Yesterday morning the leaves looked a little curled up but the afternoon it had perked up and some more blooms started to come out, This morning however, it looks worse than yesterday, this is the first year out of 6 that it has actually bloomed, will it be ok? Is there anything I can do the help it? I'm so upset about it. Any help would be great. Thanks

All you can do is hope for

All you can do is hope for some warm weather. Hopefully the bush will recover from the light freeze. Lilacs are hardy and usually recover quickly.

I live in Chandler Az near

I live in Chandler Az near Phoenix so most of my plants need protection from freezing. I have had success with incandescent flood lights. The heat from them plus the infrared light they emit have worked well. Two lights each is all I need to protect a large Ficus and some dwarf citrus from the frost. I plan putting one in my Lilac tonight. It has survived 30 degrees several times lately with minimal damage and no protection. It is supposed to get down to 27 degrees.

I have a wonderful although

I have a wonderful although large Lilac in my front yard. It has just begun to leaf out and has several blooms in the early stages. We are expecting a heavy wet snow tonight into tomorrow. Last year we had a similar late frost and I lost almost all the flowers. I'm wondering if I need to plan on tarping it or if 1 day of below freezing (28) will not be harmful?

We r expecting snow tonight

We r expecting snow tonight and my lilacs have bloomed it will be 22 out this evening do I need to cover them so they dont freeze

I have a 6ft tall Lilac bush

I have a 6ft tall Lilac bush This bush is very special to myself and my kids There dad planted it when we bought our first house he couldn't wait for it to bloom and would commet on it every time we walked out the frount door It became a running joke . Took 2 years and it bloomed However my Husband passed away suddinly right befor Never got to see how beautiful it was That Bush became a Part of our family. 10 years later im selling my Home and moving and My kids are insisting that the lilc bush comes with us . So my question is What do I need to do to make this Happen Plz Help

It may be difficult to

It may be difficult to transplant an old lilac. The root system is big and you want to get as much of it as possible. It can also be 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. The timing must also be right: when they are dormant in early spring before the plant leafs out or in the fall. If you decide not to move the bush you can transplant suckers (offshoots from the bush). Use a sharp shovel to cut the underground stem that joins the offshoot to the lilac bush. and then carefully lift the sucker, trying to retain as many roots as possible.

I had a wonderful dark purple

I had a wonderful dark purple lilac tree growing near our old house. I took a cutting and dipped the end of the cutting in a rooting hormone, it rooted and now it's outside my present house. If you do this take a nice smaller branch thats not booming, cut with sharp tool at a 45* cut then follow the instructions on the rooting hormone package. It's not the whole tree but it's a nice way to take the tree without possibly losing the whole thing. I've also taken part of the bush using a sharp shovel, but that was another variety (bush). The dark purple was a tree.
wishing you luck.

I recently purchased a house

I recently purchased a house on some farm land. I'd like to have a bit of a wind breaker/property divider and thought a variety of lilacs would look wonderful behind our house. I don't think I'd want just a wall of bushes though... it is a pretty long stretch. Do you have suggestions for an evergreen that would pair nicely with the lilacs? Thanks for any suggestions!

For a lilac wall or hedge,

For a lilac wall or hedge, just make sure you leave plenty of room between plants (6 feet for most varieties).  Chinese lilacs make a nice hedge. If you mix the lilac with trees, just avoid any trees that will grow tall and produce shade because lilacs need sun to flower. Perhaps a conifer shrub would work. Visit your garden center for local varieties. As the lilac trunks can look bare after the flowing season, we would consider planting hostas and perennials at ground level.

I have a lilac bush that I

I have a lilac bush that I started from another bush 5 years ago. It is by all accounts healthy, 6-7 ft tall, thick green leaves and new shoots every year. The second year I had it, it bloomed one bloom cluster but not again. Still this spring their are no blooms starting. If you have any helpful information on getting my plant to bloom I would be grateful! I live in southwest MO. Also it gets plenty of sun and I water it in the summer.

I live in Central Kentucky.

I live in Central Kentucky. I'd like to plant lilacs in my backyard, but my neighbor has a very large black walnut tree maybe 10-12 yards from where I'd like to plant. The walnut tree doesn't shade the spot at all, but I've heard that lilacs might be one of those plants that can't tolerate black walnuts. Do you think I have a shot at keeping a lilac bush alive here?

Unfortunately, lilacs are

Unfortunately, lilacs are sensitive to toxicity of black walnut trees. The toxic effects of a mature black walnut tree can extend 50 to 80 feet from the trunk of the tree, with the greatest toxicity occurring within the tree’s dripline.

Hi, I live in Chicago and

Hi, I live in Chicago and would like to know if I can plant a Purple Lilac in a large-(ish) size pot on an eastern-facing balcony?
Will it eventually outgrow the pot (any pot)?
I recognize regular fertilizing would likely be needed.

If your lilac will get around

If your lilac will get around 6 or more hours of direct sunlight, then it should be fine. Lilacs can grow in partial shade, but they will not bloom as profusely and may look more scraggly.
Choose a dwarf or shorter variety, such as 'Bloomerang', Korean dwarf lilac, 'Miss Kim', or 'Little Boy Blue', so that it won't overgrow the space; (still, some dwarfs can grow to 5 to 8 feet, so you'll need to keep up with pruning). Prune and water as needed. Provide good air circulation and good drainage. You may need to repot as the plant grows; allow a good amount of space for the roots to grow. Avoid black plastic pots, as these may get too hot.
Chicago is USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 6, so make sure that your cultivar is hardy in that Zone. Still, it might be good to provide winter protection (wrap the base and bush with burlap filled with leaves or straw; remove in early spring before new growth starts, but after last expected spring frost).
Good luck!

Can I plant lilacs along a

Can I plant lilacs along a fence? My neighbor just installed a big white privacy fence, so now my yard on that side is bare. I want to plant some lilacs, because my wife loves the color and I love the smell. Would it be wise to plant them in front of the fence? And in order to ensure a long bloom time, what varieties do you think I should plant together?

Yes, lilacs can make a nice

Yes, lilacs can make a nice border or screen—and be planted along a fence. We don't know where you live but "Beauty of Moscow" and "Pocahontas" are reader favorites as they bloom regularly and are simply pretty and fragrant. If you want a denser border, you might want to consider mixing it up with evergreens. Also, the cotoneaster is a popular plant with dark green leaves and fall color.

I live in the eastern shore

I live in the eastern shore of maryland. Thanks for the quick response! I was thinking of also planting some peonies in front.
Thanks again!

I inherited a lilac tree of

I inherited a lilac tree of 10 ft tall and wide. It needs to be move. Should I give it a hard pruning before the transplant? Can I divide it to make more plants? Is it a tree or a bush?

In terms of pruning: this is

In terms of pruning: this is done right after flowering. Otherwise, you are removing this year's blooms.
If your lilac looks more like a tree than a bush and is overgrown, you could do a severe pruning. Each year for 3 years, remove a third of the volume by cutting the large branches to the base of the plant.
In terms of transplanting, lilacs are quite hearty and if they are not too old, they will transplant well as long as they are not coming into leaf. It's ideal to transplant lilacs (and divide them if you wish) in early spring while it's still dormant. For many areas, that might be April 1 but it depends on your location.

can i do a start from one of

can i do a start from one of my bushes


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