Planting & Growing Lilac Bushes

Planting & Growing Lilac Bushes

lilac blog header close and far

Huge, fragrant blooms in spring on an easy-care bush

There is nothing so welcome in springtime than a soft breeze rustling through a Lilac in bloom! The fresh floral fragrance of the big, broad, pointed clusters of tiny true flowers is simply unforgettable.

Give yourself these special shrubs and you'll make everyone in your neighborhood happy, too! You'll also provide lots of early season nectar for butterflies!

Lilacs are excellent informal hedges and make lush privacy screens. Use them as a backdrop for borders or create an impressive stand alone lawn planting in an island-style bed.

Read through this #ProPlantTips Lilac guide from It's easy to maximize the vigor and performance of your new Lilac bushes with a few tips of the trade.

WHICH Lilac cultivar should you choose? common purple lilac offers a compelling catalog of healthy, well-developed plants. It's no wonder why professional garden designers work with us every week to delight their clients.

Enjoy the incredibly fragrant, old-fashioned favorite Common Purple Lilac (Syringa vulgaris), just like the ones in Grandma's yard. Get a double dose of showy blooms with a modern selection, like hybrid Bloomerang® Dark Purple Lilac (Syringa x BLOOMERANG 'SMSJBP7').

We have Lilac varieties to suit the needs of any garden. Please read the descriptions and Plant Highlights on every product page.

  • Miss Kim Lilac (Syringa pubescens subsp. patula 'Miss Kim') is a compact choice with a refined shape
  • Late-blooming, dark purple Ludwig Spaeth Lilac (Syringa vulgaris 'Ludwig Spaeth') extends your season of that fabulous fragrance
  • Stylish tree-form selections like Tinkerbelle Lilac Tree (Syringa TINKERBELLE 'Bailbelle') make a great specimen
  • Pink-flowering James MacFarlane Lilac (Syringa x prestoniae 'James MacFarlane') is a late-blooming Canadian hybrid that easily withstands extreme cold and high winds
  • Gorgeous Sensation Lilac (Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation') adds pinstriped petals to your borders and indoor arrangements

lilac cultivars collage

WHERE should you plant your new Lilac bush?

Supply Lilacs full sun (at least six hours of sunshine a day) to be treated to the most astonishing display of aromatic blooms. Look for a planting site in a sunny spot that has plenty of good air circulation to prevent powdery mildew.

Well-drained soil is important to keep them happy and healthy. Lilacs perform best when the soil surrounding their root systems drains relatively quickly after rainfall.

Plant them in raised beds if you have heavy, marshy soil. Many people choose to grow smaller-scale Lilac shrubs in extra-large, light-weight resin containers for the patio, deck or balcony.

Are Lilac Roots Invasive? Can I Plant Them Near Sidewalks and Foundations?

sidewalk and fountain with flowers

Lilac roots remain fairly shallow and shouldn't become invasive or aggressive towards sidewalks or patios. Large-scale selections make wonderful anchors in your foundation planting at the corner of your home. 

It is a good idea to plant them back at least 10 feet away from your home. You will want easy access to the exterior of your home for repairs and painting.

HOW should you plant Lilac bushes?

Please be ready to track your package to your doorstep. These shipping boxes are nice and sturdy, and you'll want to open them as soon as you can.

  1. Give your new plant a nice, long drink before planting. Soak bareroot plants for a few hours or overnight; dunk potted plants in a bucket of water until the bubbles stop.
  2. Dig a planting hole at least twice as wide as the root ball or container size. 
  3. Long-lived Lilacs can live hundreds of years! Add symbiotic Nature Hills Root Booster during planting for support that grows with your plant and doesn't wear out.
  4. Place your Lilac in the soil and press the backfill soil around it. Soak your new Lilac well to eliminate air pockets and ensure good soil contact with the roots.
  5. Add a three-inch layer of mulch over the root zone to protect your new landscape asset. Please pull the mulch back away from directly touching the stems.


how to plant lilacs picture collage


Get more #ProPlantTips planting advice here

WHAT are the recommended care tips for Lilac (Syringa)?

Watering Lilacs watering lilacs

Water new Lilacs carefully the first year in your garden to get their roots established, using the Finger Test. Poke your finger into the soil around your plant up to the second knuckle…water as it starts to grow dry.

Thereafter, water these rugged, durable shrubs during high heat and in drought conditions. Keep container-grown Lilacs watered regularly their entire life.

Feeding Lilacs fertilizing lilacs

Lilac plants appreciate rich soil. Every other year in early spring, put a top-dressing of compost at the base of the plant and water it in.

Fertilize with a high-quality, low-nitrogen formula designed for flowering shrubs. We recommend following the label instructions for application rate and timing.

Pruning Lilacs pruning lilacs

Prune right after flowering is done to clean up your shrub. Of course, you can also prune the blooms for an impressive cut flower arrangement!

What's springtime without the traditional scent of Lilac gracing your interior tablescapes? Choose a deep vase that is weighted on the bottom to showcase the generous blooms without tipping.

Every few years, prune out a few of the thickest, oldest branches at ground level. This practice will keep your Lilac refreshed and looking its best.

Create memories with long-lived, easy-care Lilac bushes planted and grown at your home. They make very thoughtful housewarming gift plants, as well!

Contact our team of plant experts at if you still have questions.We'll help you find just the right cultivars to enchant you and your guests.

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