Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Care of Lilac Bushes

While this bush has plenty of blooms, it hasn't been properly cared for.

In my part of the world, the lilacs are in full bloom. I have several around the property, an older one that needs a good pruning and two newer ones that are lush and growing strong. As hearty as lilac bushes are, they do still require a certain amount of care and spring is a good time to get started.


If you want to add lilac bushes to your landscape, it is already passed the ideal time to do so and you will have to wait until fall. For spring plantings, lilacs should be purchased early in the season when they are still dormant. Plants should be void of any leaves and will probably have bare roots. In the fall, the plants will have soil on the roots and leaves on the stems.

Dig a hole large enough to accommodate whatever root system you have. Add some compost to the soil that goes back into the hole. Set the root ball so it is just at the top of the whole and back fill the hole. For bare root plants, set the roots a couple of inches below the soil surface. Water well to remove air pockets but do not drown and do not pack the soil around the roots.


Spring is the best time to add a little fertilizer to your lilac bushes. Because lilacs set buds the previous year, your fertilizer will help encourage leaf growth this year and the buds for next year. 

This bush has been looked after and the blooms are more proportionate with the size of the bush.


Lilacs don’t really need an annual pruning like many other trees and bushes. Following the blossom period, though, the spent blossoms should be trimmed back. The best time is in the spring, about one week after the blooms have finished. Cut them off cleanly just below the flower cluster. This stimulates the growth of new flower buds and leaves and also reduces the production of seeds. If you don’t do this, the plant will put its energies into seed production and that energy would have been used to promote blossom growth for next year. Letting your lilac set seed means less blossoms next year.
Thisbush was not deadheaded after blooming.It went to seed which in turn reduced the number of blooms this year.


Lilacs are drought tolerant but prefer plenty of water. Watch for loss of shine on the leaves, limp leaves or leaves edged with brown. These can all be sigs your lilac bush is not getting enough water.