The lilac bush has been around since the 1700s and has kept growing with new varieties and colours. Lilacs are known for beauty, lush fragrances, and ease when it comes to maintenance. Once a year the lilac bush puts on a large display of blooms for only a few short weeks, and as soon as blooming is finished the lilac bush begins working on next year's buds, making pruning at the right time an integral part of care. Lilacs require very little care once established; the key is planting the lilac correctly for optimum performance.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Lilac plant, bare-root or potted
- Nutrient-rich garden soil
- General-use fertiliser
Choose your location for your new lilac bush. Lilacs do best with at least six hours of direct sunlight and prefer afternoon sun. If you are planting more than one bush, be sure to space them at least 5 feet apart. Also remember that lilacs can grow for over a century, so your planting site needs to be a permanent one. Small hills are often chosen or a location known for good drainage.
Dig a hole at least as deep as the root ball from your plant and add a few inches to that length. Make the hole just as wide as it is deep. A hole 2 feet deep by 3 feet wide is usually sufficient. Place the lilac plant in the hole with the roots running vertically. Fill the hole with an equal mixture of garden soil and compost.
Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the bush to keep weeds from stealing your lilac bush's water. Do not mulch much deeper than this, however, or new shoots won't be able to grow through it.
Use a general-purpose fertiliser and feed your lilac bush in early spring. You may also want to fertilise again once the spent flowers have dropped off. Lilacs also enjoy manure used to aid in adding nutrients to the soil.
Water your lilac bush thoroughly for the first three to four weeks unless you are fortunate enough to have steady rainfall during this time. While the soil should not be muddy, a new lilac bush will need moist soil to help establish a good root system.
Keep watch on your new lilac bush and look for new growth. Lilacs are anything but shy about growing and once your plant is established you will know. Until then, continue to water and observe the new addition to your property.
Continue to care for your lilac bush each year by pruning the bush immediately following blooming. Cut away the dead blooms and trim any branches that need to be removed by cutting them near the ground. As you trim, be sure to keep some strong stalks every year.
Tips and warnings
- Stay on top of pruning. When you prune, you are helping increase the flow of air around the branches, which decreases the chance your lilac will have powdery mildew and other such diseases.
- While they sometimes act like a tree, do not neglect your lilac bush. Even though it will continue to produce, a lilac bush that is not well maintained won't make as many blooms as other lilac bushes of its size. Every three to five years prune away old branches. This helps remind the plant to focus on new growth and making beautiful and fragrant blooms.
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