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How To Grow Lilac: Step-by-Step Guide

How To Grow Lilac: Step-by-Step-Guide

Table of Contents

Welcome to our comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to grow lilacs! Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully plant, grow, and care for these beautiful garden shrubs. Lilacs, belonging to the Syringa genus, are known for their fragrant tubular flowers in shades of purple, pink, and white, making them a delightful addition to any garden.

Before we dive into the details of growing lilacs, it’s important to understand the different types of lilacs available and where to plant them. We’ll cover everything from selecting the right lilac variety for your garden to providing the ideal growing conditions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Planting and growing lilacs can be a rewarding experience.
  • Lilacs are known for their fragrant tubular flowers in shades of purple, pink, and white.
  • Choose the right lilac variety based on your garden space and preferences.
  • Ensure you provide enough sunlight and well-drained, fertile soil for your lilacs to thrive.
  • Regular care, including mulching, watering, fertilizing, and pruning, is essential for healthy lilac growth.

Types of Lilacs for Your Garden

Lilac varieties

The most common variety of lilac is Syringa vulgaris, also known as tree lilac. There is a wide range of lilac varieties to choose from, including compact lilacs that are suitable for smaller gardens or pots, as well as larger types that can be grown as standalone specimens.

Popular Lilac Varieties

  • Syringa ‘Red Pixie’
  • Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Primrose’
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Katherine Havemeyer’
  • Syringa vulgaris ‘Madame Lemoine’

Compact lilacs like Baby Kim and Little Lady are perfect choices for small spaces or container gardening.

Variety Name Common Name
Syringa ‘Red Pixie’ Red Pixie Lilac
Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’ Palibin Lilac
Syringa vulgaris ‘Primrose’ Primrose Lilac
Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’ Sensation Lilac
Syringa vulgaris ‘Katherine Havemeyer’ Katherine Havemeyer Lilac
Syringa vulgaris ‘Madame Lemoine’ Madame Lemoine Lilac

Where to Plant Lilacs

Best location for lilacs

Lilacs are resilient and adaptable shrubs that can thrive in various conditions. However, to ensure the best growth and abundant blooming, it’s important to choose the right location for planting your lilacs.

Sun Requirements

Lilacs are sun-loving plants and require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. When selecting a planting spot, look for an area in your garden that receives ample sunlight. This will ensure that your lilacs receive the light they need to produce vibrant flowers and maintain their overall health.

Soil Requirements

Proper soil conditions are crucial for the successful growth of lilacs. They prefer well-drained soil that is fertile and slightly alkaline. Good drainage is essential to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other problems.

Lilacs can tolerate a wide range of soil types, but they thrive best in moist, humus-rich soil. Before planting, it’s a good idea to amend the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve its fertility and moisture retention.

Here’s a summary of the best conditions for planting lilacs:

  • Location: Choose a sunny spot in your garden with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
  • Soil: Ensure the soil is well-drained, slightly alkaline, and enriched with organic matter.

By planting your lilacs in the right location and providing them with the appropriate sun and soil conditions, you’ll set them up for success and enjoy beautiful blooms year after year.

Planting Lilacs

When it comes to planting lilacs, proper preparation is key. Pay attention to the soil conditions and planting depth to set your lilacs up for success.

Preparing the Soil

Before planting your lilacs, make sure the soil is well-drained and enriched with compost. This will provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. To prepare the soil:

  1. Dig a generous hole that is deep and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s root system.
  2. Remove any weeds or grass from the area.
  3. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to promote proper drainage.
  4. Amend the soil with compost to improve its fertility.

Planting Depth

The planting depth is crucial for the successful establishment of your lilacs. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the lilac in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil line.
  2. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it down around the plant.

Remember not to bury the plant too deeply, as this can lead to root rot. The top of the root ball should be level with the soil surface.

Once you have planted your lilac, give it a thorough watering to help it settle in. Adding a layer of mulch around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Tip: Lilacs prefer well-drained soil, so avoid planting them in areas prone to waterlogging.

Caring for Lilacs

Lilacs in full bloom

Lilacs require regular care to ensure their optimal growth and blooming. By following these essential care tips, you can keep your lilacs healthy and flourishing.

Annual Mulching

Mulching is an important practice in lilac care. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the lilac plant in early spring. This helps to conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain an even soil temperature.


For healthy lilacs, water deeply and infrequently. Provide regular deep watering, especially during dry spells and hot summer months, ensuring the soil is evenly moist. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot.


Fertilize your lilacs in early spring with a granular organic fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer evenly around the base of the plant, following the dosage instructions on the packaging. This helps to promote vigorous growth, abundant blooms, and overall plant health.


Deadheading, the practice of removing spent blooms, encourages new flower and leaf buds to develop. After the lilacs have finished blooming, simply pinch or snip off the faded flowers just above a set of healthy leaves. This helps redirect the plant’s energy towards new growth and ensures a tidy appearance.


Pruning lilacs is essential for maintaining their shape, removing dead wood, and promoting optimal flowering. Wait until after the lilacs have finished blooming in spring before pruning. Remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches. Additionally, shape the plant by selectively pruning back older wood. Avoid severe pruning, as it may result in a loss of blooms for one to three years.

Lilac Care Frequency
Annual Mulching Once a year in spring
Watering Deep watering as needed
Fertilizing Once a year in early spring
Deadheading Throughout blooming season
Pruning After blooming in spring

Keep in mind that lilacs are generally low-maintenance plants. By following these care practices, you can ensure your lilacs thrive and reward you with their stunning blooms year after year.

Propagating Lilacs

How to propagate lilacs

If you want to expand your lilac collection or share the beauty of these fragrant flowers with others, propagating lilacs is a great way to do it. There are two common methods for propagating lilacs: taking cuttings and growing from suckers.

Taking Cuttings

One method for propagating lilacs is by taking softwood cuttings in early summer. Here’s how:

  1. Choose a healthy, non-flowering stem from the current year’s growth.
  2. Using a clean, sharp pair of pruners, make a 6-8 inch long cutting just below a leaf node.
  3. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting, leaving a few at the top.
  4. Dip the cut end of the cutting in rooting hormone to encourage root growth.
  5. Plant the cutting in a well-draining medium, such as a mix of sand and peat moss.
  6. Keep the medium consistently moist and provide indirect sunlight.
  7. After a few weeks, the cutting should develop roots. You can then transplant it into a larger pot or directly into the ground.

Growing from Suckers

In addition to taking cuttings, you can also propagate lilacs by digging up and replanting suckers that sprout from the base of the plant. Suckers are new shoots that emerge from the roots of the parent plant. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Wait until early spring or late fall when the suckers are about 6-8 inches tall.
  2. Using a spade or garden fork, carefully dig around the base of the parent plant to expose the suckers.
  3. Gently separate the sucker from the parent plant, making sure to keep some roots attached.
  4. Replant the sucker in a suitable location with well-draining soil.
  5. Water the newly planted sucker thoroughly and provide regular care and watering until it becomes established.

Whether you choose to take cuttings or grow from suckers, proper care and watering will be essential to ensure the success of the new plants. With a little patience and attention, you’ll soon have a flourishing collection of lilacs to enjoy.

Common Problems and Solutions for Lilacs

lilac blight

Lilacs are generally low-maintenance plants that bring beauty and fragrance to any garden. However, they can be susceptible to certain issues that may affect their health and flowering. Here are some common problems you may encounter when growing lilacs and their respective solutions:

Lilac Pests

Lilacs can attract various pests, such as lilac leaf mining moths and thrips. These pests can cause damage to the leaves, leading to discoloration and reduced overall vigor of the plant. If you notice signs of pest infestation, you can take the following measures:

  • Inspect the leaves regularly to catch any signs of pests early.
  • Prune and remove any affected leaves or branches.
  • Use organic insecticides or natural remedies to control the pests.

Poor Flowering

If your lilacs aren’t blooming as profusely as expected, there are a few factors that may contribute to this problem:

  • Check if your lilacs are receiving enough sunlight. They require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day for optimal blooming.
  • Ensure that the soil is well-drained. Poorly drained soil can lead to root rot and hinder flowering.
  • Fertilize your lilacs with a balanced fertilizer specifically formulated for flowering plants to provide the necessary nutrients for blooming.


Suckers are shoots that emerge from the base of the lilac plant. While they may seem harmless, they can take away valuable nutrients and energy from the main plant. To control suckers:

  • Regularly inspect the base of the lilac plant and identify any suckers.
  • Use your hands or a wrench to tear or wrench suckers away from the base.
  • Keep the area around the lilac plant clear of weeds and debris to discourage sucker growth.

Lilac Blight

Lilac blight is a fungal disease that can cause dieback of branches and blemished leaves. To prevent and control lilac blight:

  • Prune out and remove affected branches, making sure to sanitize your pruning tools between cuts.
  • Improve air circulation around the lilac plant by pruning neighboring plants or thinning out crowded branches.
  • Avoid overhead watering and instead water at the base of the plant to minimize moisture on the leaves.

Where to Buy Lilacs Online

Buying lilacs online

When looking to add beautiful lilacs to your garden, buying them online from reputable sources is a convenient and reliable option. These online retailers offer a wide selection of lilac varieties, ensuring that you find the perfect ones to suit your tastes and preferences. Apart from offering a diverse range of choices, they also provide valuable information on planting, care, and cultivation, helping you ensure the success of your lilac-growing endeavor. Some of the reputable sources to consider when buying lilacs online include:


With an impressive collection of lilacs and a wealth of gardening expertise, Crocus is a trusted online source for buying lilacs. Whether you’re looking for classic Syringa vulgaris varieties or unique cultivars, Crocus has you covered. They offer detailed descriptions, growing tips, and customer reviews to assist you in making informed choices.

Thompson & Morgan

Thompson & Morgan is renowned for its exceptional range of plants, and lilacs are no exception. Their online store features a variety of lilac options, including compact varieties perfect for smaller gardens. You can explore their selections, read customer reviews, and benefit from their extensive gardening resources to ensure the successful growth of your lilacs.


If you’re looking for lilacs to add a touch of beauty and fragrance to your garden, Primrose is another reputable online source to consider. They offer a wide range of lilac varieties, from traditional favorites to newer introductions. With clear product information and customer ratings, Primrose helps you make confident choices when purchasing lilacs online.

By buying lilacs from these reputable sources, you can be confident in the quality and authenticity of the plants you receive. Additionally, their valuable resources and customer reviews will guide you in providing the right care and maintenance for your lilacs, ensuring their healthy growth and blooming.

Recommended Lilac Varieties

If you’re looking to add lilacs to your garden, here are some of the best varieties to consider:

Early Blooming Lilacs

For those who can’t wait to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of lilacs, early blooming varieties are the perfect choice. Consider Syringa x hyacinthiflora hybrids, which produce stunning flowers in the early spring. These hybrids are known for their early flowering habit and come in a variety of colors, including purple, pink, and white.

Mid-Season Lilacs

If you prefer lilacs that bloom in the middle of the season, Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ and ‘Firmament’ are excellent options. These varieties are known for their abundant blooms and delightful fragrance. Their flowers come in rich shades of purple and make a stunning addition to any garden.

Late-Season Lilacs

For those who want to extend the lilac season into late spring or early summer, Syringa vulgaris ‘Miss Canada’ and ‘Donald Wyman’ are top choices. These varieties offer beautiful late-season blooming and come in vibrant shades of pink and red. Their long-lasting flowers will add a burst of color to your garden when many other plants have finished blooming.

Uncommon and Unique Lilacs

If you’re looking for something a little different, consider uncommon lilac varieties like S. x ‘Penda’ Bloomerang Purple and S. x laciniata. Bloomerang Purple is a reblooming lilac that produces fragrant purple flowers in spring, reblooms in summer, and again in fall. S. x laciniata, also known as the cut-leaf lilac, offers unique fern-like foliage and delicate, lavender-pink flowers.

With these recommended lilac varieties, you can create a stunning display of blooms in your garden, whether you prefer early, mid-season, or late-season flowering. Explore the diverse range of lilacs available and choose the varieties that best suit your taste, climate, and garden space.


Growing lilacs is a rewarding experience that not only brings beauty and fragrance to your garden but also evokes a sense of nostalgia. By following our step-by-step guide and implementing proper care techniques, you can enjoy vibrant lilac blooms year after year.

Whether you have a small space or a standalone garden, there’s a lilac variety for everyone. Compact varieties like ‘Baby Kim’ and ‘Little Lady’ are perfect for smaller gardens or container gardening, while larger varieties such as Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’ and ‘Madame Lemoine’ make a stunning centerpiece. No matter the size, lilacs are sure to enhance your outdoor space and create a fragrant haven for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Recapping on our lilac growing tips, remember to choose a sunny location with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Ensure well-drained, slightly alkaline soil and add compost before planting. Water deeply during dry spells and fertilize with organic granular fertilizer in early spring. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage new flower and leaf buds. Finally, prune lilacs in the spring to remove dead wood and shape the plant.

So, why wait? Embrace the beauty of lilacs and transform your garden into a fragrant oasis. Enjoy the many benefits of growing lilacs – their stunning blooms, delightful fragrance, and the joy they bring to both you and nature. Happy gardening!


How do I grow lilacs?

To grow lilacs, follow this step-by-step guide which includes planting, growing, and caring for lilacs.

What are the types of lilacs I can plant in my garden?

There are various lilac varieties to choose from, including Syringa vulgaris (tree lilac) and compact lilacs suitable for smaller gardens or pots.

Where is the best location to plant lilacs?

Lilacs thrive in a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. They require well-drained, fertile, and slightly alkaline soil.

How do I plant lilacs?

Prepare the soil beforehand by ensuring it is well-drained and enriched with compost. Dig a generous hole and place the lilac in it, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil line. Backfill the hole with soil, firm it down, water thoroughly, and add a layer of mulch.

What care do lilacs need?

Lilacs require annual mulching, deep watering during dry spells, fertilization in early spring, deadheading spent blooms, and pruning in the spring after blooming.

How can I propagate lilacs?

Lilacs can be propagated through softwood cuttings taken in early summer or by digging up and replanting suckers that sprout from the base of the plant.

What are common problems and solutions for lilacs?

Common problems include lilac leaf mining moths, thrips, poor flowering due to poorly drained soil or lack of sunlight, and lilac blight. These issues can be controlled through proper care and pruning.

Where can I buy lilacs online?

You can purchase lilacs online from reputable sources such as Crocus, Thompson & Morgan, and Primrose, which provide detailed information on planting, care, and cultivation.

What are some recommended lilac varieties?

Recommended lilac varieties include Syringa x hyacinthiflora hybrids for early flowers, Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ and ‘Firmament’ for mid-season blooms, and Syringa vulgaris ‘Miss Canada’ and ‘Donald Wyman’ for late-season beauty.

Can you provide a recap of lilac growing tips and benefits?

By following our step-by-step guide and implementing proper care techniques, you can enjoy vibrant lilac blooms year after year. Lilacs add beauty and fragrance to your garden, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

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