Lilac Care

How to properly plant your new lilac

1. Soak new lilac(s) in water when they arrive for at least 1 hour then plant right away.

2. Plant in full sun a minimum of 6 hours is best.

3. Make sure the site is well drained lilacs hate wet feet.

4. Dig a wide hole and be sure you don't plant your lilacs too deep.

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

6. Lilacs love rich organic soil so adding some compost or manure is a good practice.

7. Incorporating 1-2 scoops of Fox Hill Lilac Food will be very beneficial for your lilacs.

8. Be sure to water in your new lilac.

9. Apply 3-4 inches of bark mulch around your new lilac.

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

Post Planting Tips

Watering: Newly planted lilacs should be watered at least once a week if there is no rain. Once established your lilac will be able to cope with dry spells, especially you applied 3-4 inches of bark mulch. Too much water is just as bad as too little so a great way to check your lilac is to pull back some of the bark mulch and with a garden trowel dig into the soil 2-3" to see with the soil is moist or dry. A slow trickle from a garden hose is still the best method to be sure your  lilac is getting an adequate amount  of water.


Fertilizing: The best time to feed you lilac is in early spring a few weeks before the leaves come out. At the nursery we use an 8-20-16 Lilac Food that is enriched with lime and seaweed. The best method for applying a granular fertilizer is to apply it under the bark mulch out by the drip line of the lilac. This helps to make sure the lilac food is going down to the roots and not dissipating into the air as it breaks down. Lilacs like a soil that has a near neutral pH they don't like a sweet soil but they do like a soil that is rich in organic matter and that is why the lime is needed to help raise the pH. You can also use wood ash in place of lime but you need twice as much. Lime and wood ash are not fertilizers they are only used to help keep the pH near neutral. Fertilize your lilac again right after blooming season ends or by the 4th of July. Never fertilize your lilac in the fall. 


Pruning: Please dare to prune your lilac it's the most important step needed to insure good quality flower production. The best time to prune an over grown  lilac is in the winter months however when you prune in the winter you a sacrificing flower buds so if you can't bear to do that always prune right after blooming season ends and I mean right after. You can cut older trunks down to 12" use a chain saw if necessary when trying to rejuvenate an old lilac stand. Removing 1/3 of the older trunks per year is a tried and true method for turning an old lilac that looks like a tree back to looking like a bush. Dead heading or the removal of spent blooms is strictly done to make your lilac not look so unsightly it will not help in next years flower production that is an old wives tale.

The Top Three Lilac Questions

Question 1:  When is the best time to plant a lilac?    

Answer:If you are planting bare root mail order lilacs then you need to do that in early spring or early fall. If you are buying potted or burlaped lilacs you can plant them anytime the ground isn't frozen. Spring shipping begins at Fox Hill Lilac Nursery after the snow has melted and the ground has thawed this usually happens by mid to late April. Fall shipping begins after a killing frost hits Fox Hill Lilac Nursery which is usually in mid to late October. Remember our lilacs are on Maine time they could care less what the weather is in your yard so please don't expect us to ship to you when you want the lilacs we can only ship when it is best for the lilacs.


Question 2: Are there any lilacs that will live and flower in the south?

Answer: Most lilacs need a dormant period of cold to insure the proper setting of flower buds. However there are some exceptions to every rule and some lilacs "Can" flower in the warmer zones of 8 and 9. The following is a list of lilacs that Fox Hill Lilac Nursery grows that are worth a try.

1. Excel (L6300)

2. Miss Kim (L7000)

3. Angel White (L2300)

4. California Rose (L5100)

These four lilacs will do one of the following for you if you want to try and see if you can get lilac blooms in the south.

1. Grow and bloom

2. Grow and never bloom

3. Die


Question 3: Why doesn't my lilac bloom?

Answer: Lilacs can fail to bloom for any number of reasons. The following is a list of things you can do to help promote flower buds for the following year.

1. Be sure your lilac gets at least 6 hours of sun light.

2. Follow all post-planting tips

3. Keep Bambi from nibbling on your lilac in the winter.

Facts about lilac color

1. Cool damp weather at blooming time can make lilacs look darker and richer in color.

2. Hot, dry sunny weather at blooming time can cause blooms to fade to lighter shades faster as the pigment gets bleached out quicker.

3. Heavy soils have been known to bring out darker color tones especially in dark purples.

4. Lighter soils have been known to give lilacs a more washed out or faded look.

5. Any combination of the above factors can give a lilac different shades from year to year.

6. Young immature lilacs can also bloom in lighter shades; not showing their true color for 4-6 years. Lilacs can bloom when they are only a few inches tall the blooms are often bigger than the actual plant. Age does not play a role as to when a lilac will start blooming that is controlled by weather, growing conditions and some say a little lilac luck!