Lilacs: Sweetest Thing in the Garden

Posted on April 29th, 2019

When people think of lilacs, the first thing that comes to mind is the wonderfully fragrant flowers. Follow these three requirements to ensure your lilacs are the rock stars of your spring garden:

Drainage / Soil

Lilacs are found growing naturally on hills and edges of mountain woodlands, so they prefer fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral (pH of 7) to alkaline soil. When in doubt, add garden lime. Flowers are produced from new shoots each year, so poor soil will lead to poor growth and in turn affect flower production. If your lilac is established in good soil, new growth will be at least 6″ long and about as thick as a pencil; this type of shoot will give you plump flower buds next spring. It is best to enrich the soil with good organic material instead of traditional fertilizers.

Sun Exposure

Lilacs require full sun, which means at least 6 hours or more of direct sunlight each day. Lilacs are known to be selfish and don’t like to compete with other tree roots that could be growing nearby, so give your plant plenty of space. If you’re not sure how much sun your location gets, we can help with that!

Thoughtful Pruning

Lilac pruning can be the most intimidating requirement for beginners, but it’s easier than you think! Remove any diseased or declining canes, suckers, and small branches each year; small growth and suckers are signs of poor growth. Prune out 1/4 to 1/3 of the oldest branches each year and be sure to leave a strong main stem. Deadhead immediately after flowering (before the fourth of July).

Troubleshooting tip: If new growth is longer than 18″ and thinner than a pencil, your lilac is most likely either planted in acidic soil, isn’t getting enough sun, or needs to be pruned.

By following these steps, we’re confident you’ll enjoy your lilacs for years to come!