There is one thing I look forward to more than almost anything else in the spring … lilacs blooming. Here are some tips growing these amazing smelling beauties!

Lilacs blooming in the spring with their strong fragrance and the plumes of white, pink, mauve, and/or purple blossoms, make this shrub simply irresistible. They are exceptionally sturdy, long lived and carefree. Because they spread by root suckers, you can nearly always dig up new starts from old lilac bushes. These are great to have in your garden as there are few other large shrubs that will bloom as much, smell as nice or be as easy to care for. My last years crop (shown here) were not as good as the year before, I said they just matched the year we had 2020! Here are some tips for growing your own bush:

  • Choose a spot with full sun and good drainage. They don’t like wet feet.
  • Make sure your planting area has lots of room because these shrubs will grow over 15 feet tall, with a footprint just as large in circumference.
  • Lilacs need cold winters, which means that they normally only grow in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 9. In zones 8 and 9, you’ll have the best luck with specialty varieties that can tolerate warm winters. In warm climates, look for varieties including “Lavender Lady,” “Blue Skies,” “Angel White,” or “Miss Kim.”
  • When it comes to maintaining lilacs, there are a few things to know. Some people never prune their lilacs and that is fine, but the individual trunks can become very large — easily the size of a small to medium tree. The only issue that arises from not pruning your bushes, aside from the large size, is that if two large branches grow too close together, they may strangle each other, causing a bit of die back. The bush will recover from this, but in the meantime, you’ll want to remove the dead trunks. If you want to keep the branches smaller, then you’ll need to periodically trim out the old growth. The problem is that lilacs only bloom on branches that are a year old or older, so if you want to prune and still have blooms, follow the 1/3 rule. That is, only cut out approximately 1/3 of the older branches each year so that the lilac stays healthy and keeps blooming.


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