Spring is here, and we’re in the garden! Today, our Regular Contributor, Megan Wild share with us How To Plant Healthy Lilac Bushes. Lilacs are one of my most favorite flowers, so pretend you have a fresh vase of lilacs on your table, and enjoy…
How To Plant Healthy Lilac Bushes
Spring in the garden with gorgeous lilacs!
Lilac bushes can make a wonderful addition to any garden. They’re perfect for bringing some color to a space, and the lovely fragrance that comes with them fills the air. Their beauty and enticing scent, along with the fact they are one of the most carefree shrubs you can grow, makes it easy to see why they’re a favorite among gardeners.
With a few tips you can keep your lilac bushes growing healthy for decades to come. Check out the list below to get the scoop on keeping your lilac healthy and happy.
Start With Your Soil
Healthy soil means a healthy plant. Checking your soil before planting will give you an idea if anything needs to be fixed before you put your lilac bushes in the ground.
Lilacs are relatively forgiving when it comes to soil. Your bushes will tolerate a variety of soil types, but lilacs do prefer well-draining soil that’s rich with humus. Humus helps air and water move through the soil more easily. Loose and airy soil will prevent it from trapping excess water that may cause root rot or other problems.
You can do a test at home to make sure your soil is draining well enough. To test your soil drainage, you’ll want to dig a hole that is around 12 inches deep and fill it with water. Timing how long it takes the water to drain from your hole will show you whether or not you have a draining problem. If after an hour there’s no noticeable difference, the soil in that area drains poorly and is not a good location for your lilac bushes. A good drainage rate is at least 1-2 inches per hour.
Checking your soil can also tell you its pH, what nutrients it may be missing and whether or not your soil has toxins. Since you’re probably not planning to eat your lilacs, toxic soil isn’t a huge concern unless you have children that like to play in the dirt. If your soil test turns up toxins but children aren’t a concern, you can still safely garden – just be sure to wear gloves when working in the soil and be careful not to breathe in any soil dust.
Pick a Location
Lilac bushes need full sun and plenty of room to grow, so choosing the right location for them will depend on those factors. Full sun means at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. Since lilac plants can get pretty large, you’ll want to place each plant a minimum of five feet apart to prevent overcrowding. Even if you plan to use your lilac as a hedge, the plants will need this space to grow happily.
Lilacs love alkaline soil. Adding lime to the area you intend to plant in will keep your soil from becoming acidic and make your lilac shrubs feel right at home.
Planting Your Bushes
Now that your soil is ready and you’ve found a location for your bushes, it’s time to start planting. If your lilac was shipped in spring and has come in the form of bare roots, don’t worry: Your plant isn’t sleeping, it’s just dormant. Soaking the roots in tepid water for 10-15 minutes will get your lilac ready for the ground.
- Prepare a hole that’s wide and deep enough to accommodate the plant’s root structure. If you’re digging for several plants or have to move a large amount of soil to prepare your planting area, you can increase your efficiency and minimize fatigue by using professional equipment to plant your bushes.
- For bare root plants, you want the roots to be a few inches below the surface of the hole. If your plant has a root ball it should be level with the top of the hole.
- After placing your plant in the hole, fill it in with soil, add a thin layer of mulch and water thoroughly.
Planting is just one aspect of growing lilac. You have to maintain the plants once they’re in the soil to keep them healthy for years. Lilacs are pretty low maintenance, which is good news for the lazy gardener. Here’s how to keep your lilacs happy:
- You should water your plant thoroughly, but not excessively. Lilacs don’t like wet roots.
- Fertilizing regularly isn’t necessary, but your bushes may benefit from an application in early spring. You’ll want to avoid anything that’s too nitrogen rich, since this can stunt the growth of blooms on your plant.
- Pruning spent blossoms will keep your plant producing more new flowers. Occasionally, pruning may be necessary if your plant gets too tall for you to enjoy.
Whatever effort you put into your bushes they will repay tenfold. These fragrant shrubs are low maintenance and eager to please. With proper care, your lilac bushes will provide you with beautiful blossoms for years to come.
Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!
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I hate that lilacs don’t grow well here in South Carolina. I love the smell and they are gorgeous.
Hey Alli! I found this resource that outlines a few varieties that should grow well in the South. Check it out… Hopefully you will have some luck if you decide to plant them this year 🙂 https://freeplants.com/lilacs.html
I wonder if Florida has too harsh of summers for lilacs? I’ve never seen any around us…but they’re SO pretty!
Hey Kristen! Depending on the area of Florida you’re referring to, it may be a little too warm for lilacs. A few types are supposed to grow well in zones 8 and 9 per this article I found – https://freeplants.com/lilacs.html
I love lilacs!! Just the scent reminds me of my Grandma!! I have a bush in the backyard, that is starting to sprout. Praying it produces more flowers this year! 🙂 #HomeMattersParty
Sending your lilac bush positive vibes 🙂 I had a neighbor who planted them along the road and they were always the first and last thing you would smell going in and out of the neighborhood I grew up in. Love those kinds of memories 🙂
These lilacs are so pretty. I have never planted any. Last spring, I thought of planting some but did not. I am not a plant expert so any tips like these are such a help!! Thanks Megan.
You’re so welcome, Zan 🙂 I hope you can get some in the ground this year!
Now I want Lilacs in my yard! We have terrible dirt which works us pretty hard with composting. I’ll have to do some research to see if Lilacs would grow here. They are beautiful.
I agree, they are beautiful! Here is some more information about what types grow best in what zones: https://freeplants.com/lilacs.html (not sure where you’re based) 🙂
I love lilacs, and have always wanted them in my yard. I think I have the perfect spot. Thank you for sharing this great info! I am pinning this for planting season!!!
Lilacs are beautiful. I hope you enjoy them when you do plant them. 🙂
Some great info on growing Lilac bushes, Megan.
Lilacs are my absolute favorite! I had a few different types at my old house & miss them so much! I really want to plant some here. Pinned! #HomeMattersParty
oh I bet Lilacs would be beautiful but not sure if I can grow them in South Texas. Tweeted–sharing with those in better climates! #HomeMattersParty
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Lorelai that is a great in depth post on planting lilac bushes. love how long they bloom and how great they smell- thanks again!