Planting & Caring for your Lilacs

Full sun

This is first and foremost. Lilacs want full sun, at least five to six hours a day during the growing season. Be sure your site will provide this, as less sunlight will give you less blooms, and none at all in shaded areas.

Good soil drainage

Lilacs absolutely do not like wet feet. Their roots must stay moist, but not sitting in water. The soil must drain properly and allow air around the roots for optimum health. Lilacs are from the mountains, growing out of rocky terrain with little topsoil, which allows for ideal combination of air and water. 

Good soil

The right soil mix will give the proper nutrients and proper drainage and aeration. The soil should be comprised of small pebbles or course sand only, good garden soil, and organic ingredients such as wood chips, sawdust, compost, or straw which has been broken down already, etc. If planting an already large shrub from a container or transplanting, follow these steps:

  1. Dig the hole 2x the size of rootball or root system
  2. Place in bottom of hole a minimum of 8'' drainage stone and sand mixed together
  3. Next, add a layer of garden soil mixed with gravel and sand
  4. Next, add a layer of compost or manure covered by good garden soil
  5. Plant the lilac and cover with soil, just barely covering the roots
  6. Mulch with straw

If planting in clay or hardpan soils, then you must create a raised bed to provide proper drainage, using the same layered process above. Planting in a hole of clay soil, even with the proper ingredients, will most certainly spell doom for your lilac.

Proper Pruning


Pruning will keep your lilacs in good  health and promote good growth, keeping blooms at nose level, and lots  of them. Only prune right after blooms are spent. pruning any other time  will risk cutting next years flowers. Next year's blooms come from Spring and Summer’s growth this year, with the buds fattening up usually by end of Summer.

Generally,  cut out old, leggy growth, the smallest suckers but leaving some for  future new main trunks, cut out any diseased stems, and any small twiggy  growth, which by the way is a sign of depleted soil conditions.

Following these guidelines will ensure a lifetime of healthy shrubs and plenty of blooms!