When to Plant Lilac Bushes – Planting Guide 2024

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Known for their fragrance, their beauty, and their color, lilac bushes are an excellent way to bring an abundance of flowers into your yard. Learn when to plant lilac bushes so you can have a wondrous garden.

When to plant lilac bushes: Flowers embolden any garden and lilac bushes are a classic example of bringing as much beauty into a yard as possible. Start with lilac bushes that are a year or two old as this will allow them a better hear start once planted. You can plant lilac bushes in the spring or the fall. Just make sure the soil is warm enough and that you can easily dig a deep enough hole. Always find a place that is in direct sun and that has adequate drainage. You will have to water your lilac bush the first few years after planting but after that only when it is especially hot out. Lilac bushes are easy to care for. They don’t need much pruning and you only need to fertilize them once a year.    

Planting Lilac Bushes in Different Climates    

Tropical Climate  

Lilac bushes need a cold, dormant period and thus won’t grow well in a tropical climate. There is also too much moisture and this can cause root rot in your lilacs.  

Dry Climate  

Even if a dry climate has cold enough winters, there is usually not enough moisture to sustain a lilac bush. You can try growing lilac bushes but be prepared for extra care and maintenance.

Temperate Climate  

A temperate climate does well for a lilac bush. The winter is cold enough and the only factor to consider is rainfall, as you will want to ensure the soil can drain properly.    

Continental Climate  

With cold winters and steady rainfall, a continental climate is great for lilac bushes. If you live in a very cold area, you may want to protect your young lilac bush in the winter by wrapping it in a burlap sack.    

Polar Climate  

Unfortunately, lilac bushes do not grow in a polar climate because there is not enough warmth in this area.      

Choosing Lilac Bush Seeds

While you can definitely plant any type of shrub from seed, most people prefer to start with lilac bushes that are a year or two old. This way they are not as delicate and it is much easier to get them off to the right start.

You can almost always find lilac bushes at your local nursery although they might not have a wide array of varieties. However, if you aren’t picky, you should be able to find what you want.  


With purple colors and a soft white outline on each petal, Sensation lilacs are a beautiful variety. They are very common and provide a gorgeous fragrance.  


If you want a smaller lilac bush, you should consider the Wedgewood variety. Growing just 4 to 6 feet tall, this flower has a pale lavender color that is soft and delicate.  

Madame Florent Stepman  

Colors are great but if you love the purity of all-white flowers, you will love this variety. With bold white flowers, this lilac bush is great on its own or with other varieties.  


Another small lilac bush option, the Palibin variety grows to be about 4 to 5 feet tall. It has lovely soft purple flowers and is quite dense, so works well as a hedge.  

How to Plant Lilac Bush

Find the right area  

Even though lilac bushes are pretty simple to maintain, there are a few requirements they need to start them off right. The first is adequate sunlight.

Lilacs love sunshine, so make sure you are planting your bush in an area with full sunlight. Be sure to consider different seasons of the year and whether your lilac bush will have to deal with shadows from other trees or your house.

Along with sunshine comes the need for proper soil. Lilac bushes require that sweet spot of moist but well-draining soil. You want soil that will hold some moisture but that won’t pool water when it rains a lot.

If there is too much water, then the roots of your lilac bush can become soggy and moldy. It’s best to plant your lilac bush on a flat surface. If your lilac bush is at the bottom of a hill, there can be too much water that floods down while if it is at the top of a hill, there won’t be access to enough water.  

Dig a hole  

Now that you have your location and your lilac bush, it’s time to get digging. If you want multiple lilac bushes together, leave a space of at least 5 inches between plants.

Lilacs will spread out quite a bit so this space can have an impact on how your garden looks in the future. If you want privacy, keep your lilac bushes closer but if you want them to be able to breathe, give them more room.

Dig your hole a bit deeper than the size of the lilac bush’s roots. This will allow you to fill the hole with a bit of fertilizer first as well as cover the tops of the roots with fresh dirt.

You can add a bit of all-purpose fertilizer to the hole for your lilac bush. Just place a thin layer of dirt on top of the fertilizer so that the roots aren’t burned.  

Bring the roots back to life  

An interesting part of spring planting of lilacs is that the roots might be still dormant. This is especially the case if you order your plant online.

While it might appear that the roots are dead, they are just still in hibernation. Soak the roots in a bucket of tepid water for about 15 minutes before you place them in the hole.

Once alive, you can then spread the roots out a bit and then place the whole root system into the hole you dug. Cover the plant with a mixture of native soil mixed in with organic compost for a nutritious environment.    

How to Water Lilac Bushes                                          

Lilac bushes need more care in the first few years than they do once they are fully mature. After you plant your lilac you should give it a good watering and then make sure the soil is moist but not saturated.

You may have to water every two days in the summer if you have a very hot climate. Be sure to water in the morning or evening so the water doesn’t evaporate right away.

After a few years, your lilac bush will be nice and established and you won’t have to worry as much. Just water it if there is a dry spell but other than that, you can let nature rain on it.    

How to Grow Lilac Bushes


You will want to fertilizer your lilac bush once a year, in the spring. To do this, simply sprinkle a powder fertilizer over the soil, on top of where the root system is.

Make sure you water well after adding fertilizer so that it can penetrate deep into the soil and not merely sit on top.  


One advantage of lilac bushes is that you don’t have to worry about pruning them. They will keep their shape and won’t grow in an unruly fashion.

You can certainly remove any spent flowerheads to tidy up the bush and this has the added benefit of focusing the bush on next year’s buds.

If your lilac bush becomes too large, you can decide to prune it, in the fall. Cut back a third of the oldest branches of the plant to about 15 inches from the soil so that new shoots are encouraged to grow.  


Not all lilacs will flower multiple times a growing season, but there are a few varieties that do. If you have such a variety, deadhead the flowers after they bloom and you may be rewarded with extra blooms right afterward.    

How long does it take to grow lilac bushes?  

Usually, you can expect lilac bushes to start flowering after four years of growth. However, some may take up to six years so you may need to be patient.  

What is the best month to plant lilac bushes?    

You will want to plant your lilac bushes in either the spring or the fall. Spring is a good time as your plant can get itself firmly in place during the summer and fall is good as it will allow your plant to settle in over winter.

If you plant in the spring, April is a good month. The ground will be warmer and it won’t be frozen anymore. For the fall, aim for September or October. Planting before the first frost is key as it means the ground will be workable and not too cold.  


Lilac bushes bring instant color to your garden in the spring. With short and tall heights and many different colors, you can find a variety that will light up and add fragrance to your home.  

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