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How to Grow Lilacs - Care and Feeding

Lilac Flower Bushes

Syringa, Oleaceae

Growing Lilacs is easy. They are a low-maintenance shrub. Lilacs offer good summer shade, after they have reached several feet tall. They can be used as a hedgerow, to provide privacy  from neighboring properties. With just a little care and maintenance, the knowledge of  growing Lilac bushes, and how to replenish the old wood with new shoots, lilac bushes last a lifetime.

Did You Know? Lilacs are members of the olive family.

How to Grow Lilacs:

Lilacs do not like to get their feet (the roots) wet for a prolonged period of time. They do best on hillsides, slightly elevated areas, or level ground where there is good drainage. Lilac roots run deep. If you have an extended dry period or drought, water infrequently but thoroughly. Lilacs do not grow well in lowlands, where water tends to collect for prolonged periods of time.

Weed around your lilac bushes to maintain a clean, aesthetic look. Pile mulch high around the plants, for a neat and tidy appearance,  to retain some soil moisture, and to keep weeds down.

Caution: Do not make mulch so thick, that new shoots are hampered from sprouting and developing.

Lilacs will tolerate almost any kind of soil, from clay to sand, with a pH of 6.5 to 7. Like many plants, your Lilacs will benefit from compost and humus worked into the soil, to help retain some water during dry spells, and to provide nutrients.

Lilac bushes do not need a lot of fertilizer or organic feeding. Fertilize lilacs with a high Phosphorous formula in early spring, to promote blooming. Too much nitrogen in the soil, will result in poor blooms. Use a general purpose fertilizer in early summer.

Tip: Spread  some fireplace ash around the drip line of your bush, for bigger and better blooms.

Flowers will bloom in May. Prior to blooming, fertilize with a high phosphorous fertilizer, and one that has little or no nitrogen. There are several causes for lack of blooms. See "Why No Blooms?"

If you want to prune lilacs, it is important to do so immediately after the blooms die off. Read important information on pruning lilacs.

The bushes are very susceptible to powdery mildew in hot, humid weather. This is evident by the appearance of a white, "powdery" substance on the leaves. Use fungicides before humid weather sets in. More on Diseases of Lilacs

Lilac Garden Tip: Invasive Lilac varieties aggressively send out runner shoots. If you have an invasive variety, we recommend garden edging to keep their spread under control.

Lilac are winter hardy. No special protection is needed. Cold winters help to promote blooms.

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