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  3. How to Grow Lilac (Syringa Vulgaris)

How to Grow Lilac (Syringa Vulgaris)

If you’re a gardening enthusiast looking to add a touch of charm and fragrance to your garden, look no further than the captivating lilac (Syringa vulgaris). With its showy blooms of pinkish, purple, or white flowers that emerge in late spring or early summer, just before the arrival of other summer flowers, lilacs are a favourite choice for many gardeners. In this article, we’ll walk you through the essential steps for successfully growing lilac plants and why they deserve a special place in your garden.

Finding the Perfect Spot for Lilacs

First things first, lilacs thrive in locations that receive full sun or light shade. These hardy beauties will flourish whether you have an exposed or sheltered garden. Lilacs can reach heights of 2.5 to 4 meters and boast a similar spread, so make sure you give them enough space to stretch their branches.

When it comes to soil preferences, lilacs are quite flexible. They grow happily in chalk, loam, sand, and clay soils if the soil is moist but well-drained and has a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Remember, a happy lilac means a fragrant lilac, so take some time to prepare the soil before planting.

Inviting Fragrance and Wildlife to Your Garden

One of the delightful perks of growing lilacs is the sweet scent they release, enveloping your garden with a lovely aroma. Besides the olfactory pleasure, these blossoms are also a magnet for beneficial insects, particularly bees, butterflies, and moths. Lilacs, combined with other plants that bloom at different times or over a more extended period, create a haven for pollinators, making your garden wildlife-friendly and buzzing with life.

Planting and Caring for Lilacs

Once you’ve selected the perfect spot, it’s time to plant your lilac. For bare-root lilacs, dig a generous hole and plant the shrub at the level of the soil line. Back-fill and gently firm the soil around the plant, then water it in thoroughly. Adding a layer of mulch after planting helps retain moisture in the soil, ensuring your lilac stays hydrated and healthy.

If you grow lilacs in a pot, opt for one at least 60cm in diameter. Use a well-draining mix, such as John Innes No.3 compost, with some sand or grit blended in. Lilacs in pots need a bit more attention, so don’t forget to water regularly and provide the occasional dose of liquid fertiliser during the growing season.

Pruning for Beautiful Blooms

To keep your lilacs blooming beautifully, a little pruning is in order. After the flowers have faded toward midsummer, you can deadhead spent blooms on smaller shrubs to encourage new growth. When it comes to larger shrubs and trees, pruning after flowering will help shape and control their size. Remember to remove any dead, diseased, or dying wood during this process.

If you have an older lilac tree that needs a refresh, don’t be afraid to give it a hard prune while it’s dormant in winter. While you’ll miss out on flowers for a year since lilacs bloom on the previous year’s wood, the rejuvenated plant will reward you with glorious blooms in the coming seasons.


Lilacs are classic garden treasures that enchant us with their breathtaking flowers and delightful fragrance. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting, growing lilacs is a rewarding experience that brings joy and beauty to your outdoor space. So, why not add a touch of lilac charm to your garden and enjoy the splendour it offers each spring and summer? With their straightforward needs and resilience, lilacs will surely be the stars of your garden show!

Updated on August 2, 2023

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