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How to Grow a Lilac Bush

Everything you need to know about growing a lilac bush in your garden, including how to care for lilac bushes, recommended varieties, how long lilac bushes live, and more lilac growing tips.

Everything you need to know about growing lilac bushes in your garden.


By Arricca SanSone, Country Living
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 7
  • When to plant: Early spring or early fall
  • Recommended varieties: Congo, Sensation, Bloomerang Dark Purple (reblooming type)
  • Pests and diseases to watch out for: Powdery mildew, aphids


How to Plant Lilac Bushes

Pick a spot in your yard with good air circulation, not right up against the house, in order to minimize disease risks. Dig a hole about twice as wide as the root ball. Don't add anything, such as potting soil or peat moss, to the hole. Soil additives can cause drainage problems, and lilacs don't like wet feet! Place plant in hole no deeper than it was in the pot. Backfill around plant, firmly pressing soil in place.


How to Care for Lilac Bushes

Keep the plant evenly moist, but not sopping wet, while the roots are getting established the first few years. Feed with a rose fertilizer once in early spring according to package directions. Pruning is not necessary; but if you do have to take off a damaged or too-big branch, do it in the spring right after flowering so you don't remove next year's flowers.


Can a lilac bush be planted in a pot?

Yes, but choose a dwarf variety. Enjoy it for about three to five years until it outgrows the pot and needs transplanted into the ground.


How do you transplant a lilac bush?

If you need to move a plant away from the house or fence line, wait until right after it flowers so you can enjoy this year's blooms. Dig the hole it's going in first so the plant spends as little time as possible out of the ground. Use a spade to make a trench around the outer edge of the plant a few inches beyond the spread of the branches. Use a garden fork to dig under and lift the plant onto a tarp to carry it to the new location. Follow the same planting steps as above.


How do you start a lilac bush?

It's tricky and takes several years before you'll see blooms. But let's say you have a sentimental attachment to a lilac that's in your grandma's yard and you want to start your own from her plant: Snip a four to five-inch branch of soft new growth in early spring; avoid the woody pieces or suckers around the base of the plant. Remove leaves along the bottom, dip in rooting powder, place it in a small pot and keep evenly moist. You should see new growth in a few months.


How long do lilac bushes live?

They're super-hardy and may live 75 years or more! Just look at old, abandoned farmhouses where the lilacs still bloom vigorously.

GROWER TIP: "Lilacs usually are unbothered by insect pests, but if you see a few aphids, knock them off with a blast of water," says Stacey Hirvela, horticulturalist with Proven Winners Color Choice Shrubs. "To prevent diseases, make sure your plant gets six hours of sun and clean up fallen leaves beneath the plant in autumn."


See more at: Country Living

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Lifestyle Magazine: How to Grow a Lilac Bush
How to Grow a Lilac Bush
Everything you need to know about growing a lilac bush in your garden, including how to care for lilac bushes, recommended varieties, how long lilac bushes live, and more lilac growing tips.
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Lifestyle Magazine
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