How Far Apart Do I Plant Lilac Bushes

Did you know that the National Gardening Bureau has designated 2022 as the “Year of the Lilac”? They have a sweet, eerie aroma and are among the easiest shrubs for your landscaping to maintain that bloom in the spring. Find out how to plant, nurture, and prune your lilacs.

About Lilacs

Syringa vulgaris, or common lilac, is prized for its tenacity, dependability, and scent. Lilacs are so hardy that they can live for more than 100 years and frequently outlive the houses they were planted near.

This tiny, multi-stemmed deciduous shrub (or tree) has approximately ten canes and blooms at eye level. The height of a common lilac can range from 8 to 12 feet, depending on the cultivar. The aromatic flowers attract butterflies and make good cuttings.

There are lilac types that come in white, cream, and even pink and yellow, though the blooms are typically lilac/purple in hue (ranging from very pale to extremely dark). Flowers can be solitary or double in number.

Lilacs bloom in northern states from mid- to late spring for around two weeks. However, there are lilac varieties for early, mid, and late seasons that, when cultivated together, guarantee a consistent bloom for at least six weeks.

Lilacs do best in soil that is fertile, humus-rich, well-drained, and neutral to alkaline (at a pH near 7.0). Add compost to your soil to improve it if it is in bad condition. (Learn more about adding amendments to the soil and getting it ready for planting.) Lilacs don’t enjoy having their feet wet and won’t blossom if they are kept too moist, so make sure the planting area drains well.

Lilacs should be planted in full sun, which is defined as having at least six hours of sunlight each day, for the finest blooms.

How to Plant Lilacs

  • If you’re fortunate, a friend may offer you a sucker, or offshoot, of the plant’s root system. The sucker will first appear pitiful, but all you need to do is dig a hole, fill it with soil, and then insert the sucker. water next, and then wait. You’ll be rewarded with enormous, fragrant blossoms in 4 or 5 years.
  • Lilacs purchased from nurseries can also be planted easily. If the plant was cultivated in a container, spread its roots out as you plant it; if it was balled or burlapped, gently remove the covering and any rope before doing so. Set the plant 2 to 3 inches deeper than it was while it was growing in the nursery and cover the roots with topsoil. in water Then add more topsoil to the hole to finish it.
  • Depending on the kind, place multiple lilac bushes 5 to 15 feet apart.
  • Apply a layer of compost under the plant each spring, followed by a layer of mulch to keep moisture in and weeds under control.
  • If the weekly rainfall is less than 1 inch, water during the summer.
  • If lilacs receive too much fertilizer, they won’t bloom. In the late winter, they can manage a few 10-10-10, but no more.
  • Spread some lime and thoroughly composted manure around the base of your lilac bush once it has finished blooming. Remove suckers while you form the shrub by trimming it.

Pruning Lilacs

  • Since lilacs blossom on old wood, it’s important to prune in the spring immediately following their bloom. You risk removing the wood if you prune later in the summer. A word of advice: It’s time to prune if your lilac flower clusters are getting smaller!
  • After bloom each year, cut away any dead wood. Remove the oldest canes by pruning (down to the ground). Take out the tiny suckers. Reduce weak branches until a robust shoot remains. Reduce tall canes to eye level.
  • Remove one-third of the oldest canes (down to the ground) in year one, half of the remaining old wood in year two, and the remainder in year three if your lilac is very old and in poor condition. Cutting the entire plant back to a height of approximately 6 or 8 inches is another option for elderly lilacs. Although it sounds dramatic, lilacs are remarkably resilient. This option’s drawback is that it takes some time for the hair to grow back. The lilac will grow back bursting with blooms, so there will be less work and more reward.
  • It is important to understand that extreme trimming causes bloom loss for one to three years. For these reasons, a smart pruning program gives the bushes yearly attention in an effort to avoid making dramatic and severe cuts.

The Syringa vulgaris kind of lilacs is the most widely grown and fragrant:

  • Try the double magneta variety “Charles Joly” for an early bloom.
  • Lilacs in the middle of the season include “Monge,” a deep reddish purple, and “Firmament,” a delicate blue.
  • Miss Canada, a reddish pink, and Donald Wyman, a solitary purple, are two late-season beauties.

Syringa x hyacinthiflora, an early-flowering lilac cultivar, opens 7 to 19 days before those of the common lilac. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to its fragrant blossoms.

The cutleaf lilac, a fragrant pale lavender, is one of the common lilacs that may flourish as far south as Zone 9. Common lilacs appreciate cold weather. The beautiful shrub Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’ has light lilac-blue flowers that eventually become white.

There are tiny kinds for gardeners who simply don’t have the space for the conventional larger lilacs, particularly those in urban settings. Even in a container on your balcony or patio, they will grow.

  • ‘Baby Kim’ has a lovely rounded shape, only grows 2 to 3 feet high (and 3 feet wide), and has purple flowers that draw butterflies. Hardiness from Zones 3 to 8 extended.
  • Compact lilac ‘Little Lady’ (Syringa x) has dark pink buds that open to lilac-pink flowers and grows to be 4 to 5 feet tall and wide at maturity. Zones 2 to 7 are tough.
  • Syringa vulgaris cultivars “New Age Lavender” and “New Age White” were developed for mildew resistance and are quite compact, growing from 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. Hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to their fragrant blossoms. Zone 4 hardy.

Can I combine two lilac bushes?

The ideal season for planting lilac plants is spring or fall. Make the hole deep and wide enough to fit the lilac’s roots, and then plant it with their spread vertically in the ground. Even if you intend to use them as privacy hedges, you should leave at least 5 feet (1.5 m) between each lilac bush you plant to avoid overpopulation.

A location with lots of afternoon sun and well-drained soil is ideal. Lilac bushes need adequate drainage, so wherever possible, planting lilac shrubs in somewhat higher locations is advised. Lilac bushes should be planted, then given plenty of water and a coating of loose mulch. Keep the mulch light enough not to hold too much moisture, yet thick enough to keep out weeds and preserve some moisture.

What kind of area does a lilac shrub require?

Lilacs require a lot of space to grow, so that is the first planting rule. They will want a spot that is at least seven to eight feet broad for a hedge and 10 feet wide for a shrub.

Additionally, they require at least six hours of sun each day in order to bloom beautifully. Create an alkaline, well-drained soil. When planting, add a small amount of lime, and then apply it twice a year to keep the shrubs healthy.

Dig a hole for the plant about as deep as the pot or perhaps a little deeper so you can fill the hole with compost. To prepare the lilac roots for spreading out in their new home, remove it from the pot and score the roots. Backfill the hole after placing it in position. Add a little additional compost to the soil’s top layer for an extra boost of nutrients. Thoroughly water. The majority of lilacs are drought-resistant, so once the bush is established, you can let nature handle the watering.

What occurs if lilac bushes are planted too closely together?

However, if they are planted too closely together, two clusters may eventually form, blending the new and ancient varieties. In particular, if the old clump is already well-established when the new plant is added, older kinds are frequently more vigorous than later, hybridized varieties and may even take over. This can be avoided by placing them six to ten feet apart and managing the size of the clumps.

For your gardening pals, these are wonderful presents. Although unlikely, it’s also conceivable for the two plants to generate enough seed to create a new variety. This can be avoided by cutting the wasted flower clusters, and it also works on perennials like phlox.

How much time does a lilac shrub need to mature?

A lilac plant was given to me around seven years ago, and I planted it in our backyard. Each day, it receives several hours of direct sunlight. The leaves have always been a wholesome, mold-free green. It presently stands at about 7 feet. Every year, I eagerly anticipated the blossoms. The first blooms, consisting of two or three clusters of florets, appeared in the spring of 2011. There is only one this spring (now)! Can I do anything to ensure that the plant blooms the next spring?

A: One of the great things that gardeners look forward to each spring is the aroma of lilacs. I don’t think there’s much of a purpose to offer your lilacs significant yard space if they don’t flower. But there are a number of explanations for why they don’t blossom.

  • Lilacs prefer a slightly alkaline soil (pH 6-7), even hydration, and lots of sunlight for optimal growth (at least 6 hours). Therefore, you might only get a few or no flowers if your soil is very acidic, it’s dry in the summer when the buds are growing, or your plant doesn’t get enough sun.
  • Age: Lilac plants require time to develop before they start to bloom. Therefore, a young plant might not be mature enough to bloom if you have one.

Most plants begin to blossom after three to four years, while others might take up to seven. The first few years’ blooms will be rare, but they should become more numerous over time. If the plant you purchased was in bloom when you got it, then this is definitely not your fault.

  • Pruning: Old wood is where lilacs bloom. They develop their buds during the summer so that by late January, they are completely developed and prepared to bloom.

So, two to three weeks after they bloom, or should have blossomed, is the ideal time to prune. Later trimming will reduce or stop flowering the following year. The plant can be kept healthy and flowering with yearly pruning. Remove any broken or dead branches first, then any old, woody ones, any that cross or rub, and then shape. Remove no more than one-third of the plant per year; nevertheless, if the plant is pruned on a three-year schedule, it will regenerate completely in just three brief springs.

  • Overfeeding: Sometimes we solve one issue by causing another. Lilac typically doesn’t require further fertilizing. You will get a large, luxuriant plant but few, if any, blossoms if you feed your lilacs, especially if you use nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

Instead of flowers, nitrogen, the first number in a fertilizer indication, 10-5-5, encourages the growth of leaves.

  • Transplant shock: Lilacs require some time to adapt. Even if a plant had blossoms when you got it, it is common for plants to take two or even three years to establish themselves and begin to bloom.

If none of the aforementioned scenarios apply to your lilac, you might want to offer the plant some stress, which is something we frequently do to wisteria that doesn’t blossom. A foot or so away from the lilac bush’s base, drive a sharp shovel’s blade into the ground. Cut the plant down, severing the roots on both sides.

I have two inquiries about tulips and daffodils. (1) What should I do with them after they’ve finished blooming? Do you want to base-cut them or deadhead them? (2) Where should I plant new flowers to replace them: immediately next to the bulbs? Do we remove all the green to make room for new blossoms in order to do this?

A: Although no one wants to hear it, the bare greens must be endured if you want to see the spring tulips and daffodils, even when they begin to look unsightly. The greens must stay, but you can tidy up the plants by trimming the flower stems to the ground. They shouldn’t be clipped, tied, or braided since they need to grow and store energy for the bloom the next year. The leaves can be removed from the bed and raked off once they have turned brown.

It is the same as putting perennials among the bulbs as far as that is concerned. Give them room to expand; take care not to disturb the bulbs when digging new planting holes; and, ideally, pick plants that will begin to grow just as the bulbs begin to fade. Daffodils and daylilies are a popular coupling that offers an excellent circumstance since the daylilies mature and cover the daffodil greens just as they begin to look pretty ragged.

Zones:

The majority of lilac types can withstand cold temperatures in zones 3 to 8, although others, like Scentara Double Blue, can (S. hyacinthiflora). There are some cultivars that don’t require a winter chill, like as “Lavender Lady” (S. vulgaris), which is heat tolerant to zone 9. The majority of others do need a wintertime period of cold and dormancy.

Height/Spread:

The common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, reaches heights of 12 to 15 feet and widths of 10 to 12 feet. The majority of dwarf types are smaller and reach maturity at 4 to 6 feet tall and 3 to 7 feet broad. Syringa reticulata, often known as the Japanese tree lilac, grows up to 30 feet tall.

Bloom Time:

The majority bloom in late May, however there are new re-blooming kinds, such the Bloomerang series, as well as early spring, mid-spring, and late-season blooming variants.

Color:

The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) has gray to gray-brown bark, purple blooms, and dark gray-green to blue-green foliage (with no fall color change). But there are actually seven recognized hues for lilac flowers: white, violet, blue, lavender, pink, magenta, and purple, with several variations of each hue.

Other:

True lilacs, such as the California, mountain, and wild lilacs, are truly members of the genus Ceanothus. Butterfly bushes are frequently referred to as summer lilacs, especially sterile and non-invasive varieties.