Lilacs are not native to this continent. Consequently, all Lilacs were introduced from other countries.
Syringa vulgaris (the Common Lilac) was the first Lilac to come to this country. They arrived with the early settlers. Syringa vulgaris cultivars were first hybridized in France during the 1800’s. Hence, the phrase “French Lilacs” was coined.
Lilac hybridization work has continued up to the present time, including the work of Ken Berdeen in Kennebunk, Maine. All Lilacs are tough; they are survivors. Lilacs will even tolerate seashore conditions. They live in locations that are not ideal. In spite of this, they perform well.
For you to obtain the best results with Lilacs, you should consider the following:
- Lilacs do best in FULL SUN.
- They do not like wet feet. Plant in a well drained soil.
- They like a sweet soil. pH 6.0 – 7.0.
Provided that these three conditions are met, your Lilacs will have spectacular blooms.
Lilacs should not be planted too deep. The surface of the soil ball should be level with the surrounding ground. Dig a hole the same depth as the root ball plus a little wider to allow for straightening of the plant. This allows the soil to be back filled with no air pockets. Firm it in hard. Water it in well. Make sure the soil settles around the root system.
All newly planted shrubs should receive a good watering 2 or 3 times per week for the first month. After the first month they should be watered deeply once a week. Most trees and shrubs require 1″ of water per week during the growing season. The soil should be well watered before the ground freezes in the fall. Do Not Over-water Lilacs!
Do not fertilize the first year of planting. When a fertilizer is used, wood ash, aged cow manure or a 5-10-5 type can be applied in early spring. Lilacs prefer a sweet soil and a handful of lime spread around the base of the plant every year or two is recommended.
A few inches of mulch placed around the base of the plant helps to conserve moisture, control weeds, and keeps the roots cooler. Always be sure to keep the mulch away from the trunk of the plant so that air can circulate around the base of the stem.
Pruning your Lilacs is optional. Prune within 2 weeks following bloom to allow the plants enough time to set flower buds for next year. Dead-heading of spent blooms can be done to improve the plants appearance. When rejuvenating older plants, you can remove up to 1/3 of the oldest stems each year. The more new growth you can encourage, the more flowers you’ll have in the future.