Nothing else evokes the feeling of nostalgia quite like lilacs. Many gardens feature lilacs due to their unique attractiveness and intense fragrance.
Quick Reference Planting Guide
- Location: Full sun, or at least six hours of direct sun per day.
- Hardiness Zone: Zones 3 – 7 to -30°F. However, varieties such as ‘Betsy Ross’, ‘Cut-Leaf Laciniata’, and ‘Excel’ do well from zones 3 – 8, with ‘Excel’ and ‘Laciniata’ suitable into zone 9. ‘Maiden’s Blush’ and ‘Mt. Baker’ will do well from zones 2 – 7.
- Planting Distance: 10' – 12' apart.
- Mature Height: 12' – 15' with a similar spread within 6 years. 'Cutleaf Laciniata' and ‘Maiden’s Blush’ grow only 6' tall and the Preston Hybrids grow 10' tall with mature spreads in the range of 4' – 5'.
- Bloom Time: Late spring/early summer, usually starting the second year after planting.
- To Plant: Dig a hole twice the size of the lilacs' pot. Carefully remove the plant from the pot. Hold the root ball in the hole with the top of it level with the soil surface, then carefully fill in around the root ball. Firm soil around the plant with your fingers. Water thoroughly after planting.
Although Lilacs do well in average soil, you can improve your soil as follows:
- Spade or rototill the soil to a depth of 12" – 15".
- Mix in a generous 2" – 4" layer of dehydrated manure, garden compost, or peat moss. Mix these in thoroughly. Whether your soil is poor or rich, we recommend feeding your plants once every two weeks with a water soluble plant booster. Such feedings promote superior growth and bloom.
Lilacs need only minimum care. Season-long applications of fertilizer from May through the summer will assist growth.
- Watering: Lilacs need only normal watering. Water heavily if rainfall is minimal, but only at 7 – 10 day intervals, particularly when the plant is young. Frequent light waterings aren't desirable.
- Deadheading: As soon as flowers have faded in the spring, old flower heads should be cut off. At this same time, remove suckers growing from the base of the plant and cut out weak shoots, particularly those inside or toward the center of the shrub.
- Grooming: It's desirable to have stems of all ages on your lilacs. Younger stems produce strong new growth, but older stems bear beautiful flowers. Eventually, your lilacs may become overgrown. You don’t have to completely remove them. Overgrown lilacs can be cut to within a foot of the ground. In 2 – 3 years, they'll become free-flowing shrubs again. After severe pruning, it’s best to make sure the plants are kept watered during dry weather.
- Winterizing: Lilacs need no special winter protection.