Everything about Lilacs: How to Plant, Grow and Care for Lilacs

With its bright colors and recognizable fragrance, lilac is one of the best plants to have in the garden. It is a carefree shrub, and hence, you will not have to exert too much effort to ensure that it will survive. As long as the external environment is favorable and that you provide the care that the plant needs, there is a high likelihood of success. Even if you are a novice in gardening, there is no need to have the technical expertise to grow lilacs.

In the rest of this post, we will share with you some of the most important things that you have to know about lilac – from its physical characteristics to its many varieties. We will also discuss how to plant lilac and how to take care of it.

Background and History

Syringa vulgaris or lilac is a deciduous shrub that belongs to the Oleceae family. Its name is from a Persian word, which literally translates to bluish, perhaps in reference to one of the most popular colors of its blooms. It is a native to European Balkan countries. It has been around for a long time now and a proof of which is its existence in Greek mythology. According to stories, Pan, the god of forests and fields, fell madly in love with Syngria, nymph. However, because of her fear of the advances of Pan, Syngria turned herself into a lilac in the forest.

Blossoming Lilac

Lilacs are Carefree Shrub so You Don’t Need to Exert Too Much Effort

Today, lilac is a popular flower throughout the world, especially in countries with a climate that is favorable for its growth. In the United States, lilac is New Hampshire’s state flower, which is a symbol of the hardiness of its people. The Celtics, on the other hand, view lilac as a magical flower because of its strong scent. In Russia, giving lilac to a newborn is believed to bring wisdom to the child. Different colors of lilacs also have different meanings. White lilacs are a symbol of innocence, violet shows spirituality, blue connotes tranquility, and magenta signifies passion.

Physical Characteristics of Lilac

Lilac may exhibit different characteristics depending on the specific variety where it belongs. The color of the flowers will vary, but in most cases, they will be blue, yellow, pink, white, red, or purple. It is a shrub that will produce up to ten canes and the flowers will be blooming at eye level.

The flowers will bloom early in the spring or in the middle of summer. There are tiny florets, which will surround the larger flower heads. Depending on the variety that you will grow, they can be single or double. They form a cluster, the size of which will also vary from one plant to another.

If you have a small space in the garden, look for dwarf varieties, which will have an approximate height of four feet. The taller ones, on the other hand, can grow as high as 20 feet. Most of them, however, will be only ten feet on average.

Varieties of Lilac

What is the best lilac to plant in the garden? Honestly, there is no straightforward answer to this question. If you have no idea on which is the best to grow, below are some of the varieties that are available:

One of the good reasons to plant this variety is its show-stopping blooms, making the flower exude a sensational appeal. The shrub can grow to a height of up to eight feet and the width can reach up to 12 feet.

Sensation Lilac

Producing big clusters of flowers, this warm-weather flower is a slow-growing plant. The blooms are pale purple. The bushy plant can reach a maximum height of 12 feet and width of up to six feet.

Lavender Lady Lilac

For an elegant lilac, this will be a great choice, especially for floral arrangements. It has pure white cluster blooms that are large and fragrant. The curvy petals make it look delicate. The maximum height is 12 feet and width is ten feet.

Angel White Lilac

With double white flowers, this is another flower that can symbolize pure love. They grow large like trees, with a height reaching up to 15 feet and spread of up to 12 feet.

Beauty of Moscow Lilac

This upright plant will make a great addition to your landscape. It can grow tall, but with regular pruning, you can make it more compact and keep the height below ten feet. The flowers are fragrant, with a smell that is reminiscent of cinnamon.

Maidens Blush Lilac

With a size and spread that can reach up to ten feet, this lilac variety has wine-red blooms with a fragrant smell. With its attractive flowers, it is no longer surprising that it is always part of the top ten lists of the best lilacs to grow.

Congo Lilac

This lilac has an average spread and height of ten feet. It forms clusters of single flowers that are bright blue in color. One problem with this variety is that the leaves are larger than the flower, and hence, they cover the latter.

President Lincoln Lilac

If you have a small garden, this variety can be a good choice as its height and spread will only be about six feet on average. It produces hot pink blooms, which is one thing that makes it unique. It smells like a spicy perfume.

Tinkerbelle Lilac

With a height that reaches up to 15 feet, this is one of the largest lilacs, which means that it will require a large space in the garden. It has bold and bright color, which will make it stand out if you plant it alongside yellow daffodils.

Charles Joly Lilac

Having this shrub in the garden can be a real treat because it can survive for decades. It produces white blooms with bright green leaves, which are sure to look beautiful in any garden.

Madame Florent Stepman Lilac

The flowers of this variety can range from magenta to light pink. The average height is eight feet and it will grow best in a position where the plant receives full to partial sun.

Esther Staley Lilac

Health Benefits

Lilac, especially in the form of essential oils, can be beneficial for your health, such as through the following:

  • Improves Skin Healing: Lilac is a rich source of antioxidants, which is why it speeds up skin healing, especially in the case of wounds. It will not only prevent infection, but it is also essential in the stimulation of the growth of new cells. Lilac essential oil also treats sunburn and rashes, among other skin problems.
  • Boosts the Immune System: To enjoy this benefit, you need to inhale steam with lilac essential oil. It can be helpful in getting rid of pathogens and infections that can be a carrier of common diseases.
  • Eases Anxiety: The essential oils from the lilac flowers also have a calming effect making it an excellent natural remedy if you are feeling anxious. This explains why there are many aromatherapists who use this essential oil on their clients and make them feel at ease.
  • Fever Reduction: For a long time now, lilac also has a history of being used as a febrifuge. It will help you to sweat and will allow you to quickly get rid of the toxins that are possibly causing your fever.
  • Get Rid of Internal Parasites: To cleanse the body of internal parasites and intestinal worms, lilac essential oil will also help. Nonetheless, ingestion should never be done as it can be toxic All that you have to do is to inhale it and the effects will be apparent internally.

Uses and Applications

Lilac is a plant that can be useful in more ways than one, such as through the following:

  • Ornamental Plant: Growing lilac in the garden will add a splash of color in the yard. It will also make a beautiful choice for floral arrangements. Pay attention to the meaning of its colors so that you can choose which one will be meaningful.
  • Essential Oil: Earlier, we have discussed the health benefits of lilac. These benefits will be apparent if you use lilac in the form of an essential oil. It has a soothing effect and can also be anti-bacterial, among others.
  • Culinary: While the flowers are edible, it is important that you wash them thoroughly to get rid of chemicals that can make it toxic. You can use them in salads, cakes, and pies. They will add a hint of fragrant flavor and bright color.
  • Fragrance: The distinct smell of lilac, which will depend on the variety that you will choose, will also make it an excellent choice for scented products. It is commonly used in soaps, lotions, and perfumes, among others.

How to Plant Lilacs

The first thing that you have to do is to choose the variety that you want to plant, some of which have been briefly mentioned earlier in this post. Visit a local nursery and purchase lilac. You will not need to grow it from seeds. A seedling will be a good choice since there is no need to wait for its germination.

Next, choose the right location in the garden. Because the plant needs full sun choose a location where it will enjoy at least six hours of sun in a day. Also, most of the varieties can grow tall and wide, so choose a position where the shrub will not end up being cramped. Aside from the location, the quality of the soil is equally important. It must be well-draining and nutrient rich. The addition of soil amendments and organic matter can help to enhance its nutrition.

Planting Lilac

A Seedling Will be a Good Choice Since There is No Need to Wait for Its Germination

Dig a hole on the ground. It should be at least the size of a regular pot, or at least, two times the size of the root ball of the lilac that you will plant. It will also be good to test the pH level of the soil first. It should be anywhere from 5 to 7. If you are planting several lilacs, make sure that they are at least five to 15 feet apart from each other.

Common Pests and Diseases

Even if lilacs are hardy shrubs, it is inevitable that they can be prone to a number of problems that can affect their physical appearance. Some of the diseases that they often tend to suffer from are bacterial blight, powdery mildew, leaf spots, and witches’ brooms. For pest infestation, on the other hand, some of the most common culprits include leaf miners, aphids, spider mites, caterpillars, scales, and borers. There are chemical and natural controls that can help to get rid of these pests, but the latter is a better choice since they can effectively deal with the problem without having adverse effects.

How to Take Care of Lilacs

Many beginners may end up in frustration if their lilac does not bloom or grow healthy. To avoid such misfortunes, here are some of the things that you need to do:

  • Provide the lilac with water. It is necessary to water several times in a week, especially during the summer months. If it is always raining, you can skip watering. Before you water, however, make sure that the ground is dry.
  • If you have to fertilize lilac, do it in the spring. As much as possible, use natural fertilizers, such as compost. Be careful in the use of nitrogen fertilizer. Overfertilizing can cause too much foliage growth without the flowers blooming.
  • Regular pruning is another thing that you should not forget to do as the shrub grows. This will help to keep the plant compact and manageable. You need to prune the old branches, especially those that are showing signs of weakness or diseases. This will also be helpful in improving air circulation.
  • Lilacs can last for a long time, especially if you dry and preserve the blooms. To do this, hang the flower upside down. You can also use a silica gel in a container, which will help to extend the life of the blooms when you use them in floral arrangements.

Harvesting Lilacs

It is easy to harvest lilacs, but it is important to follow the right ways to keep it in its best condition. To add, you should also know the right timing. Make sure that the flower is already in full bloom. The best time to harvest is early in the morning. If you cut the stem during a hot day, it will dry and will affect the overall health of the plant. Cut the stems longer than the desired height so that there is an allowance. Fill a bucket with warm water and preservative. Take out the leaves from the bottom of the stem. Dip the lilac in the water until you are ready to use it in whatever way.


Generally speaking, there are four important requirements for the growth of lilacs – right amount of sunlight, nutrient-rich soil, regular pruning, and good drainage. With the right external environment, growing this flower will be an easy task, even if you do not have a prior experience in gardening.


  1. Karen Holmes February 9, 2020
    • Homyden February 19, 2020

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