Your Guide to Growing & Caring for Lilac Bushes

 How can you not love lilacs? Their often pastel purple color surrounded by the green leaves and other flowers, the hummingbirds and butterflies fluttering their wings around them, the image of it alone is enough to make you want to cover your entire outdoor space with shrubs of these flowers.

Lilacs come often in a light dust purple color, but it also comes in other six colors. There is around 1000 type of Lilacs and 20 to 25 species.

The most common one is Syringa vulgaris, which blooms in the last two weeks of May around the northern areas of the US. Their size varies from 5 to 15 feet tall.

Lilacs are easy to grow with low maintenance efforts and a beautiful look and fragrance.


Dwarf Korean Lilac (Syringa Meyeri Palabin) 

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The dwarf lilac is five feet tall and seven feet wide, and adaptable for small outdoor spaces. It’s perfect for hedges due to its dense growth.

Souvenir de Louis Spaeth

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This cherry bloom 12 feet long shrub is characterized with strong growth habits. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, especially in the Month of May.  This type of lilac is better suited for areas with cool summers. 

Miss Kim

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When planting this flower, make sure to use a south-facing foundation. Miss Kim lilacs have cool toned light lavender petals that bloom at their fullest in May.

It tolerates cold and warm weather, that’s why you’ll find it spreading from Minnesota to Georgia in shrubs of 5 to 6 feet high.

Little leaf Lilac (Syringa Microphylla ‘Superba’)

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This variety of lilacs thrives in areas with mild warm weather and needs regular irrigation.

Syringa microphylla “Superba” grows to become 6 feet tall with pink rosy flowers. It might also re-bloom again in the summer.

Tinkerbelle Lilac

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Syringa baibelle or the Tinkerbelle lilac is a compact slow growing type of lilacs with high resistance to mildew and low maintenance requirements.

It grows no more than 6 feet in height with pink flowers that bloom late in the spring. The Tinkerbelle are very convenient for smaller spaces.

Wedgwood Blue Lilac

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Wedgewood lilacs will add a sense of tranquility to your garden with their soothing blue toned lavender color.

It would be even more refreshing to add other plants and flowers with the same tonality of color to create a beautiful palette of purples and blues. You can add in some Dutch iris, wisteria, and forget-me-nots to name a few.

Maiden’s Blush (Syringa hyacinthiflora)

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With a manageable height of 8 to 10 feet, the Maiden’s Blush can be a great addition to a group planting or used on its own as a bordering plant.

When the flower blossoms, it gives off an appearance of layered colors due to the difference in tone with the buds 


Let’s start with the soil! It definitely needs to be well-drained fertile soil, humus-rich, and neutral to alkaline soil with a pH of around 7. You can add compost to improve its quality if needed.

It is recommended to start planting during the fall, but you can also do it in spring. On the one hand, lilacs need at least 6 hours of sun a day, or they won’t bloom.

That’s why your planting site needs to be chosen carefully. On the other, too much watering can cause a problem too. The planting site needs to drain well.

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Depending on the variety of each bush, the lilacs need to be planted 5 to 15 feet apart from each other.

You’ll need to transplant the lilac for its nursery. It’s easy but it differs depending on whether it’s container-grown or burlapped.

In the first case, you’ll have to spread the roots while placing it the soil. In the second case, make sure to remove the rope and covering, and place the plant 2 to 3 inches deeper.

Cover the roots with soil, water it, and add more topsoil to the hole.


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  • To keep the moisture and prevent weeds, make sure to add compost and mulch each summer
  • During the summer, only water when the rain is less than 1 inch per week.
  • Don’t over-fertilize or the lilacs won’t bloom.
  • Distribute lime and rotted manure on the base after the flowers have bloomed.
  • Make sure to prune the bushes after they bloom in the spring. Lilacs bloom on old wood so if you wait until it’s summer, you’ll end up removing the wood. Whenever the flowers cluster, that indicates that it’s time to prune.
  • Remove the deadwood after the bloom on a yearly basis. Make sure that the old canes are pruned to the ground, and cut back the tall canes and frail branches. 
  • To restore lilacs, get rid of 1/3 of the oldest cane all the way to the ground in the first year remove the other half of the wood in the second year. For the rest, remove it in the third year.
  • You can also chop the entire back for about 8 or 6 inches high. Don’t be intimidates by extreme pruning, lilacs are very sturdy. However, it will take a few years to grow back from all this cutting and trimming. Nevertheless, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of blooming flowers.
  • The key to efficient pruning is yearly attention. If you go berserk on cutting down pieces with no upkeep, you’ll risk delaying the booming process for up to three years.
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  • One tip to improve the quality of your lilacs blooming is to keep an eye on the surrounding grass around them. Make sure the growth of grass is under control. It will be fine as long as you keep it in a 16 to 24 inches ratio around the lilac bushes. You can also cover the landscape with bark and stone to keep it down.
  • During the winter, you cut branches and bruise the ends, then place them in water. Don’t forget to spray them with water regularly. Keep them in a cool temperature area until they bloom. You can display them in a warm area after.
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