How to get Lilacs to Flower

Causing Your Lilac to Bloom

Lilac Flower Plants

The presence of lilacs in your garden will give a nice fragrance adding to the overall appeal of your garden design. These spring and summer beauties come in an array of colors, lilacs can reach heights anywhere from 5-15 ft, lilacs are hardy plants and can be used in wildlife gardening to attract butterflies.

What I love about lilacs is their low maintenance and the flowers can be used as cut flowers to bring that fragrance indoors. There are early, mid and late-season lilacs, these garden beauties originated in Southeastern Europe and are said to be a popular part of the Mediterranean culture so if you are excited about the growth and care of lilacs including getting them to bloom then continue reading to find out how.

Planting location of lilacs

When planting lilacs look for an area that gets full-partial sunlight.

Soil Type

Lilacs can grow in well-drained loamy soil, the soil ph can be neutral to slightly alkaline.

Water Methods

Water your lilac thoroughly but don’t overwater which will lead to root rot and poor flower bloom.

Fertilizing Methods

The great thing about lilacs is they don’t need much fertilizer, the use of a high phosphorous fertilizer in the spring will promote flower bloom. Too much nitrogen in the soil will lead to poor flower bloom.

Garden insect pests of lilacs

Garden insect pests can cause damage to lilacs, look out for these garden pests and treat them immediately.

  • Mites
  • Lilac Borers
  • Leaf Miners
  • Oyster Shell and San Jose Scale


The signs of mite attack show up as silver or rust color, these tiny mites can be brought under control with pruning and with the use of insecticidal soap.

Lilac Borers

In the larval stage, these garden insect pests are most destructive, the caterpillars are 3/4 of an inch long. Lilac borers burrow into the woody part of garden plants this is how they feed, the adult stage of borers resembles a small wasp. The stems and leaves will turn yellow and wilt, other signs include branches that have tiny holes and small piles of sawdust. To bring these garden insect pests under control the use of permethrin will work wonders.

Leaf Miners

The larvae of the leaf miner burrow between layers in the leaves, the symptoms of larvae attack are the appearance of blotches in the leaves causing browning. Bring these garden insect pests under control by keeping the area surrounding your lilac free of fallen leaves also removing damaged leaves from plants. The use of Safer® BioNeem or nicotine insecticides will offer help. Before using chemicals read and follow the manufacturer’s label for directions.

Oyster Shell and San Jose Scale

These garden insect pests lay their eggs in the bark of the lilacs which hatches in early spring. Oyster Shell and San Jose Scale are orange to pale yellow, they cause damage by boring into the bark ingesting the plant’s fluids. Small bumps also appear on the branches, the infected branches turn a dark gray. The use of malathion will bring these garden insect pests under control. Wrapping the top of infested branches loosely with the sticky part of the tape on the outside will trap them this is another way of control.

Disease of lilacs

Lilacs do have their share of disease but early detection and treatment will keep your lilacs growing healthy.

  • Powdery Mildew
  • Leaf Spots
  • Bacterial Blight

Powdery Mildew

The most common disease of lilacs is powdery mildew, this disease is encouraged because of poor air circulation. Powdery mildew appears as a white powder that forms on the leaf’s surface, the best treatment is to thin your lilacs yearly for proper air circulation.

Leaf Spots

Leaf spot is encouraged by a fungus, the symptoms show up as tan spots that appear on the leaves because of the humidity level. Thin your lilacs along with cleaning up fallen leaves and debris will give results.

Bacterial Blight

Bacterial blight is caused by bacteria shows up as dieback of the branch and young shoots, the leaves are also distorted developing water-soaked areas. Yellow margins may also appear the blossom may turn limp and become brown. To bring this disease under control prune the diseased parts along with thinning the plant, the use of a copper fungicide will bring this disease under control.

Where to install lilacs

Here are just a few places to install lilacs.

1. Bring nature indoors and allow the aroma of lilacs to fragrance (cut Flowers) your home.

2. Plant lilacs alongside your fence area.

3. Install lilacs alongside your porch or patio.

4. Plant a lilac at the corner of your house and allow the beautiful fragrance to fill your home with such freshness.

5. Plant a lilac as a specimen plant.

6. Install as a backdrop in your garden plant bed.

7. Plant them along your garden path walkway.

8. Install them throughout your landscape using the color variety.

Container grown lilacs

If your desire is to have a lilac plant but don’t have the space then container gardening can offer some help, while we do agree that lilacs can grow very large hope is not lose you can still have your lilac plant. There are some varieties that are dwarf which will grow great in containers some of these varieties include Munchin, Minute, and Pixie.

Lilacs need their roots to spread in order to thrive so as large of a container that can be used is great, ensure that the containers have drain holes for water to drain because these garden beauties don’t like wet feet. 2-cubit feet bag of commercial potting soil along with adding 1 cup of dolomite lime is ideal. Keep a check on the soil, once the soil becomes dry give your lilac a good soaking.

To keep your container-grown lilacs thriving each spring add an additional handful of lime to the soil. In early spring a 10-10-10- fertilizer will supply the needed nutrients. If the roots grow through the drain holes remove the plant and prune 1 inch of roots going in a circular pattern around the root ball, any roots which are thicker than the other roots should be cut back to the soil, return lilac to the container, and water.

Deadheading Lilacs

A key to keeping your lilacs flowering beautifully is by pruning spent or faded flowers in the spring or early summer. If you wait until late summer or early fall to prune your lilacs will produce fewer flower bloom when the season starts again. When removing spent flower clusters remove from the base of the plant just above the leaves and the new shoots that grow from the same stem of the faded flowers. The new shoots should produce new flowers.

Lilac Varieties

Below are the names of a few varieties.

1. Tinkerbelle.

2. Miss Kim.

3. Wedgwood Blue.

4. Sensation.

5. Persian Lilac.

6. Himalayan Lilac.

7. Angel White.

8. President Lincoln.

The final word

Lilacs are truly amazing and have won the hearts of so many, with these garden beauties as a part of your garden and landscape design you can not lose because you have the best of both worlds a plant that produces beautiful flower bloom that is fragrant. This garden beauty will rock your world.


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About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

4 thoughts on “How to get Lilacs to Flower”

  1. Hi, I love your content of the site love my gardening so its great info for me thanks it’s very useful and I have bookmarked your page thanks for future reference great info on gardening.

    I never knew there was so much to different soils thanks for the resources too

    Thanks again,


  2. Hi Norman, this is a great in-depth article.  Lilacs are such beautiful flowering shrubs that are must for any garden.

    To enjoy the distinctive fragrant of lilacs, you typically take cuttings from outside and place them in a vase once inside.  I’m curious to know if lilacs can be potted for indoors or is this not practical because they grow so big? Are there smaller or dwarf species of lilac that could be potted for indoor use and if so, do they need to be placed close to a window for direct sunlight?

    • Lilacs perform well outdoors but to bring them indoors except as cut flowers can be a challenge. They can grow very big, needs sufficient lighting and the roots need not be restricted for them to perform their best. A dwarf lilac the Korean dwarf lilac is a good choice. Once you meet the requirements see what happens, it won’t hurt to try. I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes.


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