How to properly plant your lilac

1. Soak your bare root lilac in a bucket of water while you prepare the hole.

2. Locate the planting hole in a sunny (at least 6 hours) spot. Be sure the area is well drained.

3. Dig a nice wide hole 3-4' in diameter and as deep as the height of the root system. The wider the better!

4. If you have wet heavy clay soil a raised bed would be best!

5. Prepare a soil mix of 75% rich garden loam, 25% compost and or manure, and two (2) scoops of Fox Hill Lilac Nursery Food.

6. You can also mix in 2-3 five gallon buckets of course road gravel. Lilacs love a rough gravel soil too!

7. Place the lilac in the center of the hole and back fill firmly with your soil mix.

8. Water your lilac in with your bucket of water it was soaking in.

9. Place a layer of bark mulch 3-4 inches deep covering the planting area.

10. Follow all post-planting tips to insure your hard work pays off!

You have now given your lilac a good home. One that can now produce blooms for generations to come!

Post - planting tips for your lilac

If post-planting weather is hot and dry you should not hesitate to supply your lilac with a drink. Once established your lilac will be able to cope with dry spells, especially if you applied bark mulch. A good sign to watch for in water deficiency is the status of the leaves, wilting or folded leaves can indicate your lilac needs water. Remember that over watering can be just as harmful as inadequate watering. Lilacs can drown. If you scrape back the bark mulch and probe the soil, it will tell you if your lilac is ready for another drink.


Each spring feed your lilacs with some Fox Hill Nursery lilac food. Applying this under the bark mulch is best. Feed your lilacs again right after blooming season ends to encourage flower bud set for next year. Our lilac food is enriched with lime and seaweed meal. Lilacs like a near neutral soil pH. That is why we use this fertilizer on our own lilacs.

Please dare to prune your lilacs. It’s the most important step needed to insure good quality flower production. The best blooms are borne on vigorous young wood; therefore you should try and keep new wood constantly developing. Regular pruning does this once your lilac has reached a height of 6-8’. The best time to prune is in the winter when your lilac is dormant. If you can’t bear to lose any blooms then you should prune right after the blooming period ends. First remove all broken or dead branches. Next cut back all "skyrocketing" trunks to a few inches above ground level. Finally thin out the new suckers and leave only the best ones so they can become your next flower producers. If you have a real over-grown lilac that needs to be restored, then you should cut back to a few inches above ground level (a third of the lilac each year) until you have it under control. A word of caution if your old lilac is of the grafted type this method of pruning will not work.
Prune in early spring before the leaves appear if your looking just for lots of new growth. This early pruning will sacrafice flower buds but help when trying to rejuvinate an old lilac or help fatten a young small bush. Prune right after blooming season ends as the flowers are fading if you don't want to risk cutting off any flower buds.

The Top Three Lilac Questions

1. When is the best time to plant lilacs and why?
This is the question most often asked by people who buy our lilacs. If you are ordering mail order lilacs the two best planting times are spring and fall. If you are buying lilacs at our nursery and taking them right home then April through October is best. Fall really is a great time for planting lilacs. We do over 75% of our transplanting in the fall. We encourage you to try fall shipping for lilacs that are sold out in the spring or on orders placed too late.

Spring Shipping: Begins when the snow melts and the ground thaws at the nursery. It ends when the lilacs begin to leaf out.

Fall Shipping: Begins after a killing frost hits the nursery. It ends when the ground freezes.

2. Are there any lilacs that will live and flower down south where it’s so hot and dry?
Most lilacs need a dormant period of cold or drought conditions to help insure the proper setting of flower buds. There is exception to every rule and some lilacs will flower in the warmer zones of 8 and 9. The following is a list of lilacs we carry that are worth a try:

1. Lavender Lady
2. Miss Kim
3. Excel
4. Angel White
5. Sister Justena

3. Why doesn’t my lilac bloom?
Lilacs can fail to bloom for any number of reasons.
The following list is things you can do to help promote flower buds for next year:
1. Be sure your lilac gets at least 6 hours of sun
2. Follow all post-planting tips.
3. Remove all grass and weeds and add 2-3" of mulch.