When people think of Lilacs the first thing to come to mind is the wonderfully fragrant flowers. There are four basic requirements that lilacs need to ensure they are the spring rock star of your garden.

  • 1. Drainage. In their native homes, you will find them in fertile hills and on the edges of mountain woodlands. They are never seen in swampy wet areas. Lilacs prefer sandy, gravel-like soil.
  • 2. Soil- Lilacs prefer a fertile well-drained soil with a neutral (ph7) to alkaline soil. When in doubt add garden lime! Flowers are produced from new shoots each year. Poor soil will lead to poor growth affecting flower production. If lilac is established in good soil new growth will be at least 6” and pencil-thick. This type of shoot will give you plump flower buds for next spring. If the growth is longer than 18” and thin this is a sign the soil may be too acidic, have too much shade or need to be thinned out by pruning. For lilacs, it is best to enrich the soil with good organic material over traditional fertilizers.
  • 3. Sun, Sun, Sun! Lilacs require full sun, at least 6 hours or more each day. They are also “selfish” and don’t like the root competition that nearby trees may give. If you’re not sure how much sun your location gets, please ask a Van Wilgen’s expert and we can help you with that.
  • 4. Pruning- Out of all the care lilacs need this can be the most intimidating for most beginners. However, it is much easier than you think. Prune out any diseased or declining canes, suckers, and small branches each year. Small growth and suckers are signs of poor growth. Next, prune out ¼ to 1/3 of the oldest branches each year. Make sure you leave a strong main stem giving you a god form for the plant. This practice ensures strong canes and growth. Also make sure you deadhead your flowers immediately after flowering, before July 4th. By doing a little pruning to your lilac each year you will enjoy great form, flowering for years to come.

JASON SCIRE, Nursery Manager