Lilac Tree: Care and Growing Guide (with Pictures)

With the correct care and methods, a lilac tree in your garden can be grown rather easily. With conical clusters of fragrant pink, white, or purple blooms, lilac is a huge multi-stemmed deciduous tree or shrub. Late spring is when the lilac trees produce their flowers, which can last up to four weeks. They may be used as a privacy barrier since to their huge heart-shaped leaves and thick foliage. Once planted in the garden, lilac trees are also rather easy to maintain.

Low-maintenance shrubs include lilacs. Suppose you want to garden with a magnificent solitary-stemmed lilac tree. To create the flowering tree in that scenario, you’ll need to prune some branches. Any effort, no matter how small, is worth it. Once planted, a lilac tree blooms profusely every year, brightening and scenting your front or rear yard.

For growing a lilac tree in your yard, the article is a full care guide. Furthermore, if you want to grow a hardy tree in your garden, you’ll learn more about the best lilac plants to grow.

How to Care for a Lilac Tree

Place a lilac tree in full sun and rich, well-drained soil to thrive. If rainfall is less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) throughout the spring, water the lilac regularly. Compost and mulch should be applied around the root zone in the spring. In the spring, remove suckers to keep the tree intact.

Lilac Tree (Syringa vulgaris) Facts

In the genus Syringa and the olive family Oleaceae, common lilac is a huge shrub or small tree. 8 to 16 feet (2.4 to 5 meters) tall and 6 to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.6 meters) wide, a lilac shrublike tree grows. The thick leaves offer cover and protection, and this fast-growing tree has a vase-shaped or spherical crown.

Heart-shaped (cordate) lilac leaves sprout on opposite sides of tree branches. The large deciduous leaves are 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) long and 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 cm) broad. Green lilac leaves with grayish-green leaves are found in certain cultivars. USDA zones 4 through 7 are ideal for growing lilac trees.

Is Lilac a Shrub or a Tree?

Lilac may be trimmed to create a central trunk, whether it is a big deciduous shrub or a tiny multi-stemmed tree. A lilac plant may grow suckers that develop many woody stems or thin trunks with light brown or gray bark if it is not controlled properly.

As a result, to eliminate stems that develop near the central trunk, frequent pruning is required. Syringa varieties that are more like trees than shrubs may be found. The Japanese and Chinese lilac trees, for example, are both Syringa reticulata. A single trunk distinguishes pekinensis from other shrubs.

Chinese and Japanese lilac trees are shown on the left and right, respectively.

Lilac Tree Flowers

Lilac blooms are the most appealing aspect of this easy-to-raise flowering tree, which may be purple, pink, or white. Conical blooms made up of extremely fragrant individual blooms, the attractive lilac blossoms are beautiful. There are four to five petals per little blossom. Lilac blooms are approximately 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long.

When Do Lilac Trees Bloom?

Lilac trees bloom for just three to four weeks in the spring, which is a short period. Lilac, on the other hand, comes in several varieties that bloom at various times of the year. A longer blooming period may be achieved by planting several lilac shrubs and trees.

One method to extend the blooming period of lilacs is to deadhead them. There are several benefits to removing flowers near the end of their blooming season. First and foremost, you help to promote blossoming. Second, adding a fragrant floral display to your home is a great way to decorate with lilac flowers.

What Do Lilac Tree Flowers Smell Like?

The fragrance of lilac blooms pervades the atmosphere. The charming bouquet has undertones of vanilla and is similar to that of roses. Certain lilac cultivars, on the other hand, lack any scent if the scent of lilac is too overpowering.

Types of Lilac Tree

For your garden landscape, you may choose from hundreds of types of lilac trees and shrubs. Pure white, dusty pink, vivid magenta blooms, and a variety of purple hues are among the colors of lilac trees. Multicolored blooms may be seen on several of the most gorgeous lilac trees. You may grow these lovely lilac bushes as a tiny flowering tree:

  • Lilac ‘Monge’—Late in the spring, a magnificent lilac tree with fragrant magenta-purple blooms blooms for four weeks.
  • Syringa x prestoniae ‘Miss Canada’—The flowers of this little purple shrub are delicately fragrant and last three weeks in early summer.
  • ‘Firmament’—With pale blue blooms that open from pink buds, this little deciduous lilac tree is a delight. Late spring and early summer are the best seasons to see the tree bloom.
  • ‘Madame Lemoine’—For producing pure white conical clusters of flowers, one of the best lilac trees is a good choice. late spring is when the lilac blooms bloom, and they last up to four weeks.

How to Grow Lilac Trees

Trimming the root branches around the main stem and removing side branches from the main stem is all it takes to train lilac bushes to grow as trees. A small tree with a unique focal point is created by pruning a lilac bush into a tiny tree. By shorteng the root branches, you may develop a lovely lilac tree while maintaining the main stem.

Locating the main trunk is the first step in growing a lilac tree. Select the one that appears to be the longest and strongest. Then, using a pruning saw or lopping shears, cut off the remaining branching shoots at ground level. It’s crucial to preserve the main trunk from being damaged.

After that, the main stem’s side branches must be removed. Next, cut back the lilac tree’s lower third branches to remove them. Leave about 1 inch (2.5 cm) on the branch when cutting the lateral branches at a 45-degree angle. This prevents water from gathering in the lilac tree’s cut and helps it recover after pruning.

Stake the main stem of a single-stemmed lilac tree to provide support once it’s established. The trunk becomes thicker and retains its straight form as a result of this step. When you’re confident the lilac tree trunk can bear its own weight, remove the stake. Every spring, you should remove suckers to prevent the tree from regaining its shrub-like look.

Thin the canopy to leave four or five branches once the lilac tree has reached the desired height. Cut the branches about 5 inches (12 centimeters) from the main trunk. It is important to encourage lateral development and a bushy, tree-like crown, despite the fact that this kind of pruning appears severe.

When to Plant Lilac Trees

Lilac trees should be planted in the autumn. By planting the lilac tree before winter, the roots can be developed before spring growth in the following year. If you want to grow a new tree, you may plant a sucker from a lilac shrub directly in the ground. After four or five years, you should have a decent enough shrub to transform into a tree if you grow a lilac plant quickly.

Lilac Tree (Syringa vulgaris) Care Guide

You may cultivate a gorgeous lilac tree in your yard with little yearly care. In the spring, clusters of purple, pink, or white lilac blooms will appear on the lovely upright tree. During the summer, the easy-care tree will provide plenty of shade and become a focal point in your garden. For ensuring that your lilac tree grows well in your front or backyard, here are some handy tips.

Where to Plant Lilac Trees

In full sun, a lilac tree thrives. So, place the tree in a spot where it receives at least six hours of sunlight every day. While lilac trees can survive some shade, blooming will be harmed by too much. You may also encounter powdery mildew if the tree is in too much shade. Make sure there is room for growth when choosing the right location for a lilac tree. The canopy of a 12-foot-wide (3.6-meter) lilac tree may expand. In order to avoid fungal infections, it’s also a important aspect to ensure excellent air circulation.

Make sure the soil has good drainage before planting the lilac tree. Lilac trees prefer damp, yet never waterlogged, soil. They flourish in conditions like this, especially if there are frequent strong downpours.

For testing if a lilac tree will have the proper drainage, here’s a helpful hint. Dig a 12″ (30 cm) deep and 8″ (20 cm) wide hole. Fill it with water until it is full. The drainage is adequate for planting a lilac tree if the hole drains in an hour. Alkaline, humus-rich soil is also ideal for lilac tree cultivation. As a result, if the soil pH is low, you may want to test it and apply garden lime or wood ash to boost alkalinity.

How to Water Lilac Trees

Deep, infrequent watering is best for lilac trees. Water the lilac tree every 10 to 14 days throughout the spring until it blooms. When the top layer of soil is dry, then you may water the lilac plant. Lilac trees that have been established may endure short periods of dryness.

To become established, a newly planted lilac tree requires watering more frequently. To avoid the soil from drying out, thoroughly water the young tree once a week unless there is sufficient rainfall.

Always water the ground and never water a lilac tree from above when watering it. The roots get enough moisture to survive thanks to this watering process. You also avoid fungus diseases by keeping the foliage dry. If the leaves on a lilac tree start to wilt, it is an indication that you need to water it.

Top tip for growing a lilac tree: To help keep the ground moist and weed growth at bay, sow a 3″ (7.5 cm) or 4″ (10 cm) layer of mulch around the root zone.

Fertilizing Lilac Trees

A balanced tree fertilizer may be used to fertilize a lilac tree after it has been planted for the second or third year. Apply once a year in the spring using a tree or shrub fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10. The ground can be kept alkaline by spreading bone meal and fireplace ash over the root area. Fertilizing too late in the season may cause lilac bacterial blight to spread throughout your tree’s foliage, so be diligent.

How to Prune Lilac Trees

In late spring or early summer, prune your lilac trees just after they bloom. The flower buds of the following year have an opportunity to develop since they are being pruned early. Conversely, you might lose buds that will bloom the next year if you prune a lilac tree too late.

Remove suckers from the lilactree’s trunk and trim them at ground level when you’re pruning a tree. To encourage additional blooming, remove all exhausted blooms from the stems. You may cut back one-third of the branches to keep the tree shape. To increase air circulation, you may need to cut away internal branches.

How to Transplant Lilac Tree

It’s simple to move lilac trees around. Young trees, on the other hand, adapt better to being dug up and relocated to a new spot, hence it’s always best to transplant them. After the hot summer has passed and before winter arrives, is the best time to transplant lilac trees. Preparation of the new hole is the first step in transplanting a lilac tree. Dig a hole twice as deep and broad as the tree’s root ball in the brightest portion of your garden. Fill the hole with water, then let it drain. It also helps to ensure that the transplant is successful.

Next, dig a large and wide trench around the lilac tree. To avoid transplant shock, it is critical to preserve as much of the root system intact. Remove the lilac tree from its position gently and carefully. Move the tree with a wheelbarrow to its new location.

Backfill the excavated soil in the new hole with the lilac tree. To eliminate air bubbles, press down on the pedal regularly. Next, to eliminate any lingering air, thoroughly wash the water. Keep the earth moist but not waterlogged until the tree is well-established.

Propagating Lilac Tree

Suckers or softwood lilac stem cuttings are the simplest way to grow a new tree and propagate a lilac plant. Pick the suckers farthest away from the main stem when the root shoots appear in spring. Next, use a shovel to dig up the sucker and roots from the ground. If you can’t plant them right away, put the suckers in a bucket of water. You might also put the lilac suckers in a moist potting soil-filled container.

In the spring after blooming has stopped, cut three or four softwood stems from a stem cutting to grow a lilac tree. The stems should be between 4 and 6 inches (10 and 15 cm) long. Tuck the cut end into a rooting hormone bath. Fill each with a peat-based potting soil combination and place it in a pot. By watering the soil on a regular basis, you can keep it moist. Roots might take six weeks or more to develop.

You may grow your small lilac tree in a pot once the cuttings are established. Or you may put it in a sunny spot in the garden and transplant it.

How to Deadhead Lilacs

When the fragrant flower clusters on the deadhead lilies start to wilt and fade, they’re gone. Cut the blooms off of the stalk and return them to the stalk. The more buds that appear, the better the flowers in the next spring. Deadheading lilacs encourages more buds to form. You may encourage a second round of blooming by reblooming some lilacs.

Pests that Affect Lilac Tree Growth 

Lilac borers, leaf miners, and oyster-shell scale are the most common lilac tree pests. While Lilac borers are of the caterpillar variety, they may be destructive. Lilac tree woody portions are eaten by hungry grubs. Lilac borers leave piles of sawdust on the ground, tiny holes in branches, and yellowing leaves as evidence.

Lilac foliage may be damaged by leaf miners as well. Burrowing through the leaves gives them a blotched look. The moth larvae do so. The leaves may turn brown as a consequence of this. As a result, all leaves exhibiting signs of leaf miner activity should be removed. A insect known as the oyster-shell scale sucks juices from lilac bushes and trees. Scale insects live in the bark and feed on it. If the foliage becomes darker gray and rough and bumpy, then it is time to treat for an infestation.

Diseases Affecting Lilac Tree Growth 

Two diseases that affect lilac trees are powdery mildew and lilac bacterial blight. Leave enough space between plants to avoid both of these lilac plant diseases. To stay healthy, lilac tree foliage requires plenty of air circulation. Powdery mildew and bacterial blight are also more likely to occur in rainy conditions

On lilac leaves, powdery mildew appears as a white power. Powdery mildew makes the tree look sick and unsightly, despite the fact that the condition is harmless to the plant. See how to eliminate powdery mildew from your garden plants by using a milk solution.

Assume that your beautiful lilac tree’s leaves have been scorched by a blowtorch. It’s likely lilac bacterial blight in this situation. Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae is a bacterium. severe leaf wilt and browning caused by Syringae. Remove all infected twigs and foliage, and destroy them, is the best way to manage this disease.

Also, don’t fertilize young lilac trees late in the growing season and don’t over-fertilize them. In this manner, you may protect your lilac blossoming from the ravages of disease.


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