Planting and Care of Lilac bushes

Lilac bushes are easy to grow and long lived ! You will get more flowers if you choose a location for your lilac bush with at least 6 hours of strong sunlight.

Know the mature size of your Lilac, while there are several dwarf varities that grow less than eight feet tall, many Lilac plants can get to 12 feet or more and that wide also. Give them lots of room in the landscape.

Reticulata cultivars are trees maturing between 20 and 30 feet tall.

Plant Lilac bushes by digging a hole wider than the root ball of the plant. Place the lilac plant so it is at the same soil level as was in the pot. {Do not bury the trunk or stem.} Use a mix of compost and a little peat moss to fill in around the plant. Add a bit of lime. Keep well watered but not wet. Lilac plants need good drainage.

Be sure to use a mouse guard !

Some things you might want to know about lilacs.



  • All Lilacs need eight or more hours of full sun in order to grow and bloom their best.

  • Lilac plants must have good drainage. They can take quite a bit of water but can not stand in it. Plants like Willow and Cedar will soak up much excess water in their area. Choose a well drained location for lilac plants.

  • Pruning is best done on all Lilac bushes immediately after they finish flowering. Lilacs set buds for the next year {including flower buds} right after flowering.

  • Lilac bushes will benefit from having the spent blossoms pruned off just after flowering. This prevents them from trying to make seeds which slows down the shrub's growth.

  • All Lilacs benefit greatly from having a sweet soil. Top dress lilac plants with lime, wood ashes, well aged manure, compost & lawn clippings.

  • Pruning Lilac bushes will encourage strong new growth.

  • There are well over a thousand registered varieties of Lilacs but still very few true dwarfs.

  • Syringa Vulgaris Lilacs {Common & French varieties} will do well in USDA cold zones 2-7.  Syringa Hyacinthefolia Lilacs {early season} and Syringa Prestoni {late season} are best in USDA zones 4-8.

  • Early season lilacs bloom 7-10 days before the common old fashion and French hybrids. Late season cultivars flower 10 - 14 days after the old fashion and French hybrids.

  • Green horned tomato worms eat lilac leaves.

  • Mice will chew on the bark of tender new plants. The bark can be protected by using a mouse guard during winter on young lilacs.

  • To avoid premature wilting keep fresh cut Lilac flowers in water at all times.











In this garden in mid Maine

the Lilac plants flower in this order.

  • Hyacinthifolia
  • Vulgaris
  • Prestonia
  • Josikea
  • Meyeri Palibin and Patula
  • Villosa
  • Reticulata Lilac Trees


Lilac plants are perennials. Lilac bushes will be more at home in a field than under evergreen trees. They need the same growing conditions as Roses, not too wet and lots of sun.

Grass clippings make a good mulch for Lilac plants.

Lilacs are generally large plants, some are trees.

One cultivar of the Japanese lilac tree can get thirty feet tall.




Lilacs Forever
is an internet branch office of
Blue Hill Country Garden
in Blue Hill, Maine