by Jennifer Poindexter
Would you like to grow a durable tree around your home? Would it make it more appealing if the tree produced gorgeous blooms?
It might be time to consider adding a lilac tree to your landscape. If you’ve ever heard or seen a lilac bush, we’re talking about the same plant.
Depending upon what height you allow the plant to reach determines whether it’s referred to as a bush or tree.
However, it’s easy to grow and great for adding charm around your home. If this is something you’re interested in, let’s discuss how to grow it.
Here’s what you should know to grow a lilac tree:
Growing Conditions for a Lilac Tree
A lilac tree comes in different varieties and different bloom colors. These trees can produce blooms that are cream-colored, pink, yellow, or purple.
The tree typically blooms in the spring, but the variety will depend upon when the blooms appear. Consider planting different varieties to have an extended bloom cycle that lasts for approximately six weeks.
Lilac trees can reach heights ranging from twelve to twenty feet. They can also become as wide as ten to twelve feet.
The trees typically grow one to two feet each year and are hardy in planting zones two through seven. As if you needed anything else to sell you on lilac trees, they can grow for over one hundred years!
You might have already guessed, but trees that grow for so long aren’t picky about growing conditions. They have a few minor needs but nothing excessive.
Plant your lilac trees where they’ll receive full sunlight. If you plant them in too much shade, they’re less likely to bloom.
Lilac trees also need soil that drains adequately, is rich in nutrients, and remains evenly damp. If you can supply these few needs, your lilac trees should thrive.
How to Plant a Lilac Tree
There are a couple of common ways to grow lilac trees. No matter the method used, be sure you either plant in the later portion of fall, prior to the ground becoming frozen, or in early spring right after the ground thaws.
The first method to growing a lilac tree is by purchasing a tree from a local nursery. Once the plant is home, dig a hole that’s twice as wide and equally as deep at the planter the tree is currently growing inside of.
Spread out the tree’s roots and place it inside the hole. Backfill the hole with soil, press firmly around the base of the plant, and water it deeply to help the roots become established.
The other method to growing a lilac tree is from a sucker of a mature plant. Whether you harvest a sucker after pruning some of your other lilac trees or have a friend who sends a few suckers your way, this could be a cost-effective method to growing lilacs around your home.
To start, dig a hole deep enough for the sucker. Plant it, backfill the hole, and press firmly around the base of the sucker.
This might look piddly to begin with but give the sucker around five years. At this point, the plant should prosper and bloom.
If you’re planting multiple lilac trees at once, regardless of the method used, be sure to leave approximately ten feet between each plant to ensure adequate airflow.
These are the two most common methods for planting a lilac tree. Pick the option readily available to you and start growing this gorgeous tree as soon as the weather permits.
Caring for a Lilac Tree
The next step in growing a lilac tree is to care for it properly. Adequate care of this tree consists of pruning, deadheading, watering, mulching, and applying fertilizer.
To start, you should only fertilize a lilac tree right after the bloom cycle has ended. Use an all-purpose fertilizer to provide a boost of nutrients to the tree.
While the tree is still blooming, but as the blooms become spent, it’s important to deadhead the blooms. This not only keeps the tree looking nice, but it also encourages it to put its energy into making more blooms.
The next step in caring for a lilac tree is to water the plant properly. It’s best to water a lilac tree deeply for the first two years after planting.
This will ensure the plant receives an adequate amount of water without becoming oversaturated. To know when you should water your tree, test the soil.
Insert your finger into the dirt surrounding the plant. When the soil is dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to apply more water.
After the second year, the lilac tree shouldn’t need to be watered by you unless your area is going through a period of drought.
You should consider applying mulch around the base of your lilac tree. Not only does this deter weeds, but it also helps the tree retain moisture.
Be mindful that you spread the mulch around the tree, no thicker than two inches deep. Don’t mound the mulch around the trunk (known as volcano mulching) as this can do more harm than good.
The final step in caring for a lilac tree is to prune it. You should prune directly after the blooming cycle has ended as the blooms form on old wood.
When pruning, remove all dead wood, any tiny suckers, and weak branches. Don’t prune the lilac tree too heavily (unless absolutely necessary) as this can delay the tree from blooming for up to three years.
This is the care a lilac tree will require of you when growing around your home. Take care of it and this tree will bloom for many years.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Could Impact a Lilac Tree
Are you ready for more good news with the lilac tree? This plant has one minor disease that tends to impact it and only two pests which are easily treated.
The disease which can bother your lilac tree is powdery mildew. If you keep adequate spacing among your plants, this should help decrease the possibility of the disease developing.
Should your lilac tree develop powdery mildew, you can ignore it as it doesn’t harm the tree. If it bothers you for aesthetic purposes, spray the tree with a fungicide.
The only pests which bother a lilac tree are snails and slugs. You may handpick them, if you’re comfortable doing so.
If not, you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth at the bottom of the tree to make it more difficult for the pests to gain access. You can also spray your tree with an insecticide.
Coffee grounds are also a great way to deter snails and slugs as they don’t like the caffeine found in coffee.
This concludes our discussion of growing the lilac tree. It’s not a difficult plant to grow, but if cared for properly, it can produce beautiful blooms and live for generations.
If you need a low-maintenance, beautiful tree, the lilac could be for you. It also is a smaller tree option. Therefore, it could be a great way to landscape smaller spaces around your home.
Learn More About Lilac Trees
April, 2022, I am in Concho Arizona.
I planted Natking cherry bushes as my first line of a wind block a while ago. Last year they mostly suffered from the winter winds. I had a aggressive lilac bush that seemed not to be affected by the wind . So, I took many sprouts and, added them to the wind block area. The second year, they seem to be doing well. Up here the flowers freeze off. But, they seem to be a very good bush.