Where to Plant Lilacs – Garden Tips 2024

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What better way to announce that the harsh season of winter is over than with the abundant fragrance of lilacs? These gorgeous flowers have an immense presence so learn where to best plant your lilacs so they can be the star of early spring.

Where to plant lilacs: Lilac shrubs can easily tower over 15 feet, so you want to plant them where they will have plenty of space to grow. They need full sun, especially when they bloom in the spring, so plan accordingly. Well-draining soil is also important. While you need to take care of your lilac’s needs in the beginning, once it starts to grow, you don’t need to do too much. Lilacs rarely require pruning and unless you are in the middle of a drought, you don’t need to water them. Instead, enjoy their beauty in your garden, and don’t forget to cut off bouquets to enjoy in your home.

Where do I put lilacs in my garden?

Lilacs love sunshine. They need at least six hours of full sun, so this is your number one priority when planting lilacs.

There are different types of lilacs, with some that are diminutive bushes while others are shrubs that can grow up to 15 feet tall. Once you know what type of lilac you have, you will want to plan accordingly.

Many gardeners want to use lilacs as a privacy screen as their foliage can be quite bushy. If you go this route, still leave space between the shrubs so that they can fill in and still have enough space to breathe.

Where do lilacs grow best?

As far as climate zones go, lilacs grow best in zones 3 through 7. This means they can tolerate very cold winters that get as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lilacs can also tolerate warmer summers, which means they are a very versatile plant. As long as you have a winter that is cold, you can have lilacs in your garden.

How to Choose the Best Spot to Grow Lilacs

Step 1 – Start by deciding which varieties to plant

Although most lilacs look similar, their overall design can be very different from each other. You will want to do your research and pick a lilac shrub that is not only the color you want but the size that will fit in your garden. Here are some common varieties to choose from.

Syringa Vulgaris

One of the most common types of lilacs, this variety will become a towering 20-foot shrub. Their flowers are incredibly fragrant and there are enough blooms so that you can leave some on the plant and still have plenty to cut off for your bouquets.

Syringa Palebinina

If you love lilacs but are short on space, you might want to try this dwarf Korean variety. It makes for a great border shrub as it only grows to about 4 feet.

As long as you have a large planter, you can also plant this lilac in a container, which makes it a great option if you live in a townhouse or apartment.

Syringa Amurensis

Those that have tons of space in their backyards and want a tree that provides shade, fragrance, and blossoms, will love this variety of lilac. It can actually grow to be 20 feet tall, so make sure you plan accordingly.

This variety hails from Japan and produces gorgeous off-white flowers. If you plant a few of these trees near each other, it makes for quite the statement.  

Step 2 – Full sun

As we mentioned earlier, lilacs need full sun to grow. While this may seem like an easy step to take, remember that these trees bloom in the spring.

Every season is different and while you might have full sun in an area in the summer, that might not be the case in the spring. If you have just moved into a house, it is sometimes best to wait a year before committing to plants, in order for you to understand the seasons and what is in bloom when.

Step 3 – Soil conditions

Like most shrubs, lilacs need soil that drains well. It does not do well with pooling water, so you may not want to plant your shrub at the bottom of a hill, where rainwater will naturally pool.

Likewise, if your lilacs are all at the top of a hill, they might not get enough water as any rainfall will quickly flow away.

Are lilacs an easy plant to grow?

Lilacs are incredibly easy to grow and their vibrant and fragrant blooms are absolutely amazing. You don’t need to worry about watering mature lilacs and you don’t really have to prune them.

As for pest control, this is a very hardy plant. The most common disease is powdery mildew, which you can identify by the dusty white substance on your plant’s leaves.

Powdery mildew is a result of damp, dark conditions. To prevent it, make sure your lilac shrub is in a sunny spot as a lot of shade can cause powdery mildew to set in.

Tips to Grow Lilacs

Tip 1 – Pay attention to size

You are most likely not going to purchase a lilac shrub in full maturity, which is why understanding the variety you have is so important. Pay attention to the height as this will greatly impact where your lilacs should be planted.

Lilacs offer a lot of privacy, which is nice, but if they are too close to the windows of houses, they can block a lot of natural sunlight, which will make you indoors seem much darker than you may want.

Tip 2 – Plant in the fall

When possible, purchase your lilac shrubs in the fall and plant them before the ground freezes. This will allow the root structure to start to spread out and take hold.

Planting in the spring can still be done, but by planting in the winter you can give your lilac a better chance at thriving.

Depending on how old your lilac is, you might not get flowers right away. These shrubs usually don’t produce flowers until they are three to four years old, so you may need to be a bit patient.

Tip 3 – Don’t water too much

Although your lilac will need a lot of water after you initially plant it, after that there is not too much you need to do. Their root structure will spread out and will naturally be able to absorb all the water that is needed.

If you are going through a drought period, or have very high temperatures in the summer, you can always give your lilacs some extra water but as long as weather conditions are normal, there is no need to.

Tip 4 – Add mulch

One of the benefits of having lilacs is that they do not need much care. You can do a few things, however, to help them out a bit.

In order to keep the soil around your lilac moist, you can always add a wide layer of mulch around your lilac trunk. Bark mulch will absorb water and then slowly release it, which is also beneficial to you, as it means much less hand watering.

Tip 5 – Don’t prune

Yep, your lilac bush will take care of itself all on its own. For the first three to four years of your lilacs, you really don’t have to do anything but allow the plant to grow.

During this time, your lilac tree will grow new branches that will form its overall structure. After a few years, you can do a bit of cleanup, but nothing major needs to happen.

Those that want to prune their lilac a bit should do so in the spring. This won’t affect the blooms. Look for any dead or broken branches and you can also remove any suckers that spring up from the base of the lilac trunk.

Tip 6– Do deadhead

While you don’t really have to prune your lilac bush, you can create large and fuller blooms by deadheading your shrub. After your lilac blooms die off in the late spring, take a pair of gardening shears and remove the flower heads.

You want to do this before the seeds from the flowers are set. If you forget this step, it won’t affect the tree, but if you remember it, the flowers will be brighter the next year.

Tip 7 – Take advantage of the blooms

While it’s nice to have a fragrant garden, lilacs produce an immense amount of blooms and you should take advantage of them. Get into the habit of cutting off these blooms and bring your garden inside for a gorgeous display.


Lilac flowers, with their mounds of petite blooms, are amazing to behold. These shrubs can get quite large, up to 15 feet tall, and make for a great privacy screen, all while giving off a luscious fragrance in the spring. Plant your lilacs in full sun in soil that drains well and you won’t have to do too much else.

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