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Why Lilacs Don't Bloom

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We all wait in eager anticipation for about 50 weeks for our Lilacs to bloom. Then, when they fail to bloom, we are devastated. Why, why, why?

You are in very good company. Why Lilacs do not bloom, is by far, the most frequent Lilac question we are asked each spring.

Here are the most common reasons why Lilacs won't bloom:

  • The buds were inadvertently pruned off last year. The new buds form shortly after the flowers die back. See Pruning Lilacs.

  • The  lilac bush is immature. Most lilac varieties need three, and sometimes four years to grow and develop, before they produce their first blooms.

  • Soil imbalance. This is caused by a pH imbalance, either too high, or too low. We recommend a soil test . See Soil testers.

  • Improper mix of fertilizers applied. Flowering plants and vegetables need a healthy amount of Phosphorous. Too much nitrogen in the soil results in lush, green bushes, but hinders blooming.

  • Insufficient amount of sunlight. Lilac bushes prefer full sun. Without enough sunlight, the plant will not bloom.

  • Transplant shock. If you transplanted your Lilac bush since the last blooming period, they sometimes will miss a year. They need time to recover.

  • Dry summer weather can keep buds from properly forming on the bush. If you are experiencing a summer drought, water the bush deeply once a week.

  • Extremely warm winters. Cold winter weather helps to promote blooms. Extremely warm winters, or warm winter regions, can negatively affect the quality and quantity of flowers in the upcoming season.  

If your lilacs won't bloom, try to determine which of the problems above is the most likely culprit. It may be a combination of a couple of these reasons. Then, correct the problem. Next, year, you should be rewarded!

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