Lilacs were somewhat forgotten, considered boring and unsuitable for modern gardens. A lot has been bred and experimented with in recent decades, and numerous new varieties have come onto the market. These not only impress with their great scent, but also with new flower colors, double flowers, two-tone flowers and a long flowering period. These varieties will definitely fit into any garden. In order to be able to enjoy lilacs for many years, everything must be done right when planting. Read the following text to see what needs to be taken into account.


  • Olive family
  • Syringa
  • 20 to 25 species
  • Most species are native to Europe and Asia
  • Common Lilac – Ornamental shrub in many gardens
  • Deciduous shrubs or small trees
  • Most commonly Syringa vulgaris, the common lilac
  • Can grow up to 7 m high
  • Flowers mostly in May and June
  • Flower spikes up to 25 cm long
  • Numerous colors from white to pale yellow and violet-red to dark violet
  • Also double and bicolor flowers
  • Most of the flowers are fragrant, some of them very strong
  • Capsules are formed
  • Shallow-rooted, the roots are about the same size as the crown
  • Suitable as a solitary plant, in groups or as a flowering hedge
  • Buddleia is another genus of plants

Choosing the right type and variety

There are over 20 species of lilacs and over 100 cultivars. When buying, you should not only be guided by the beautiful flowers. Lilac bushes or trees can grow many meters high, which is usually too much for small gardens. Varieties that remain under 2 m final height, such as Palibin or Superba, are better. One should bear in mind that ungrafted lilacs are not as vigorous and willing to flower as grafted ones.

Particularly beautiful varieties

  • ‘Beauty of Moscow®’ – white flowers, flower buds in pink to red, great contrast and strong fragrance
  • ‘Addie Tischler’ – dusky pink flowers, well filled, currently in high demand, good fragrance
  • ‘Charles Joly’ – lilac with purple to violet double flowers, very profuse flowering, one of the most popular hybrids
  • ‘Lila Wonder®’ – two-tone lilac hybrid, soft purple petals with a white edge, something very special
  • ‘Michel Buchner’ – large, double violet flowers, white inside, one of the most beautiful historical varieties
  • ‘Sensation’ – bicolor variety, purple petals with white edge, very exclusive variety
  • ‘Primrose’ – only yellowish cultivar, creamy yellow single flowers fading to white with fading
  • ‘Nadezhda’ – purple-blue single flowers, one of the best varieties in this color, very intense fragrance
  • Fall Lilac (Syringa microphylla) ‘Superba’ – lilac-pink flowers, main bloom in May, continues to bloom into October, about 1.5m tall
  • Spring Lilac (Syringa – x – hyacithiflora) – opens their buds two weeks before those of the common lilac, many beautiful varieties
  • Syringa hyacinthiflora ‘White Cloud x Pink Angel’ – duo lilac in white and pink, long loose individual panicles, great autumn colors
  • Hungarian lilac (Syringa josikaea) up to 4 m high, light purple flowers, very fragrant, beautiful autumn colours
  • Pearl lilac (Syringa x swegiflexa) – dark pink flower spikes, loosely nodding, meter-high, arching, overhanging branches
  • Dwarf scented lilac (Syringa meyeri) ‘Palibin’ – lilac-colored flowers, very fragrant, only 1 to 1.5 m high, usually as a trunk, frost-hardy container plant
  • Royal lilac (Syringa x chinensis Saugeana) – lilac-pink panicles of flowers, 3 to 4 m high, slow-growing, spreading, overhanging
  • Bow lilac (Syringa reflexa) – pink to red overhanging panicles

plant lilacs

Planting lilacs is uncomplicated. A sunny location and appropriate soil are important. This should not be too wet, calcareous and permeable. It is important to choose the right lilac species and variety. There are lilacs that grow to a height of 7 m and sometimes even higher. These shrubs are rather unsuitable for small gardens. Dwarf forms that are no higher than 2 m are ideal for this. There are also numerous varieties for keeping in tubs, and they are also hardy. Fall is the best time to plant lilacs. Then there are numerous bare-root plants on offer.


It is important for the location that it is sunny. In addition, good air circulation is required so that leaves and flowers do not soon droop. Lilac does not like to stand alone, he likes similar plants all around.

  • Sunny. 6 hours of sun a day is the minimum
  • Also grow in shady places, but do not form a dense crown there and flower significantly less.
  • Good air circulation is important
  • Lilacs also tolerate a lot of wind. They are often planted as a windbreak hedge.
  • Copes well with heat, cold and urban climates
  • Never plant lilacs too close to buildings or other trees. The roots need ample space to spread. They are powerful enough to damage buildings. Planting distance, also between each other 1.5 to 5 m, depending on the lilac species.

plant substrate

Lilacs are generally quite adaptable and will do well in most soils, but they clearly have favourites. What no species tolerates is wetness and soil compaction. Fresh to moderately dry soil is favourable. The pH should be between 5 and 7.

noble lilac

  • Nutritious
  • Rather dry clay soils
  • High lime content

Preston lilac

  • Slightly wet soil
  • i get up

If the soil is too nutrient-poor, you can put compost, bone meal or fertilizer in the planting hole. If the soil is too acidic, sprinkle some lime over the soil covering the roots. This should be repeated every 3 to 5 years.

planting time

Autumn is the best time to plant lilacs. The ground is still warm and the trees can root well. Bare root lilacs are often much cheaper. You can also have the plants sent to you if the local nursery does not have the desired variety. Container goods can also be planted in the spring, but after that more watering is required so that the lilacs can grow well.

  • Plant best in autumn
  • Only plant bare-root lilacs when they are dormant, i.e. from around mid-October to mid-April
  • After that, a good water supply is very important
  • Alternatively, plant in spring

Planting bare root lilacs

Planting itself is not complicated. It is important to place the root in water for about an hour beforehand so that it can really soak up water. When planting lilacs, make sure that the grafting point is about 5 cm above the ground. This spot must not be covered by soil, otherwise there is a risk that roots will form there and the substrate will overgrow.

In the case of bare-root lilacs, the shoot is cut in half above the beginning of a bud. The root tips are also cut.

  • soak roots
  • Carefully pull the bales apart
  • Dig a hole about twice the size of the root or ball.
  • The base trunk must be at ground level
  • Fill the planting hole with soil
  • Water so that the earth slides down
  • Fill in the soil again and press down
Note: A color transition can be seen at the bottom of the trunk. You can see exactly how deep the lilac was planted beforehand. The wood should not be lower in your own garden. Only ever fill up the soil up to this point, otherwise there is a risk of the roots suffocating.

Planting container plants

Container plants have the advantage that they can be planted almost all year round. Otherwise, planting is no different from bare-root lilacs, except that the roots are not clipped since they are surrounded by soil.

  • Place plant balls in water until no more air bubbles rise.
  • Plant as deep as the tree was previously in the pot.
  • Fill in the soil and tamp down.
  • Water plentifully
Tip: Freshly planted lilacs are not fertilized. Only a handful of horn shavings can be put in the planting hole.

When planting a tall or half-stem lilac, additional anchoring in the ground is important. The tree should be secured with a stake so that it grows straight and does not fall over in the wind. This should be hammered into the planting hole before the lilacs are placed. This avoids damaging the root. Bushes don’t need support.

Transplant lilacs

Lilacs should be transplanted in spring, around March or April. Depending on the age of the plants, the roots can be quite extensive. So it won’t be easy.

  • Prune lilacs properly beforehand. Since many roots break when transplanting, the wood can only compensate for this if too many plants remain. So, cut quite generously. The less mass the roots have to support after transplanting, the easier it is to root.
  • Dig up the roots extensively
  • Planting hole must be big enough
  • After that, casting is incredibly important. It is best to create a pouring rim so that the water does not run away and gets to where it is needed.

plant neighbors

Lilacs are often planted in the middle of a lawn. This is quite possible, but you should leave a free tree disc for the trunk or bush. You should mulch these. Otherwise, other flowering shrubs are suitable as neighbors for lilacs. Either you combine the shrubs with others that bloom at the same time, such as ornamental apples, weigela, scented jasmine or Kolkwitzia, or you take shrubs that bloom when the beauty of the lilacs wanes a little after flowering. Garden hibiscus, hydrangea, mallow, beard flower, ranunculus or roses would be suitable for this.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do lilacs form runners and if so, does a root barrier make sense?
True-root lilac forms runners, but usually not so profusely that a root barrier is needed. However, this makes sense if there is not much space for the roots because a building or lines are nearby. The diameter should be chosen generously. The commercially available root barriers are sufficient. They must be planted at least 50 cm deep. Even lilacs, which, as the name suggests, have been refined, can sprout offshoots. This usually happens when the lilac has been grafted onto a common lilac. The wild form then drives out again.

Very few offshoots form ungrafted lilacs that have been propagated by cuttings. Although there are occasional offshoots here too, you can quickly get a grip on them by tearing them off. Grafted lilacs are usually grafted on a wild species and they sprout vigorously. Most of the runners form the lilacs created by meristem propagation. During the phase in the laboratory, these receive short internodes, which can then sprout countless shoots. Such lilac trees can become a real problem in the garden.

Are there also lilacs that don’t shoot runners?
Lilac grafted on privet does not produce any runners, at least if the grafting site remains well above the ground. In general, only Syringa vulgaris sends offshoots, the other lilac species do not and there are plenty of them, also with beautiful flowers.

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