multiply lilacs? Possible and maybe not a problem: the original (wild) form of the lilac can do it all by itself and even more with the help of the gardener. It can be different with the noble lilac – sometimes it is grown ungrafted, but changed during breeding in such a way that it can no longer reproduce. Partly it is grafted on normal lilac, then an ordinary lilac comes out with propagation. Or it is grafted onto other plants such as privet, then it does not form any runners. Sweet lilac seeds bring little or nothing. The propagation of lilacs is therefore a wide field, below is an overview.

Propagating lilacs by seeds

Propagating lilacs by seeds seems to many gardeners a rather superfluous idea, since there are knee-high lilac bushes for a few euros in the nearest tree nursery. And yet it can make sense.

Lilac from seeds for gardeners

A few euros don’t stay a few euros if you want to surround a large property with a lilac hedge.

Lilacs are not suitable for topiary or do not flower much, but a free-growing hedge with flowering lilacs is possible, e.g. For example, lilacs should be planted at half the growth width and planted under with privet, spirea, viburnum and similar fast-growing hedges.

Half growth means 1.5 to 2 meters if the lilac is to be kept compact. If you have just bought a beautiful old farm with 3000 square meters of land, that’s a good 600 meters of land line. That means 300 to 400 lilacs and thus four-digit sums for buying lilac plants. Sowing is worth it.

Lilac seeds for balcony and terrace gardeners

There are people without a garden who love lilacs. If they grow their lilacs in the environment in which they are later to grow permanently, that is good for them. Container plants cope better with life in a container if the roots are used to the limited volume right away. With lilacs, this means sowing in the tub, because when you buy lilacs, they have been schooled several times in the nursery with a view to strong root development, in soil with a good amount of soil. The tub lilac also needs this schooling = transplanting, but directly from tub to tub, so that the root growth adapts to the soil volume.

Some of the lilac lovers are interested in bonsai and might be excited to learn that lilacs make great bonsai. Also known as a noble Japanese misho bonsai = grown from a seed. The actual bonsai pruning does not start until the age of about three years, but during the rearing the plant growth can be controlled a little in the direction of “tiny”.

Lilac seeds for growers

Growers get interesting seeds by collecting lilac fruits/seed pods from their own tree or from the beautiful lilacs in the nearest park in late fall.

Successful propagation is certain if the seeds come from the “wild form” (commercial term, that’s just the normal lilac).

When it comes to breeding lilacs, the breeder does not necessarily want you to propagate his lilacs. After all, they are supposed to buy, and the product development “Edellider” has cost. Perhaps the lilac was propagated in the laboratory, perhaps grafted onto an ordinary Syringa vulgaris or other plants (privet, tansy, red ash). Maybe it’s a hybrid whose parents were allowed to transfer beautiful colour/big flowers to the breeding result, but not the fertility.

In all of these cases, you won’t get much joy from the seeds. Either nothing comes out at all or something that doesn’t look like the lilac. So nothing you can do anything with. Even if something were to come out of the seeds of a lilac, these plants cannot be grown without the risk of contacting a lawyer because the varieties are legally protected.

The stratification

Purchased lilac seeds should be ready to use, self-collected lilac seeds need cold treatment to get ready to germinate.

If possible, you should sink lilac seeds into the ground immediately in autumn, so the lilac will germinate naturally in the following spring. It is important here that you harvest the seeds when they are really ripe. Immature seeds germinate poorly or not at all. Maturity guaranteed e.g. B. a small gauze bag that is tied around the ripening seed head and catches the seeds when they fall of their own accord (possibly with a slight nudge) and are therefore sure to be fully ripe.

If you have obtained seed from a swap agency that you plan to plant in the spring, it may need to be stratified:

  • Put seeds in containers with damp sand
  • Store in the fridge for around 2 months is the usual recommendation
  • If the refrigerator is energy-consciously set to 7 °C, it will be tight with the cold
  • Setting the fridge too cold for a few seeds is also not worth it
  • The seeds of energy-conscious people are therefore stored on the balcony

By the way, if you have only traded or collected a few very special lilac seeds, protected stratification is the safe method. When sowing in the garden in autumn, there are often little animals for whom the seeds are a welcome, rich feast.

The Sowing

When the seeds have survived their cold phase, they can be sown. In the case of lilacs, simply place them on the previously moistened soil, press down a little and cover a little with soil.

If you sow in pots (for which see “The breeding pot” below), the seeds just coming out of stratification must not be shocked by living room temperatures, but the pots should be set up at temperatures between +5 and 12 °C. In a bright location where the midday sun does not burn.

Syringa vulgaris – Propagation by cuttings


The seedling will appear after 3 weeks or 3 months, don’t lose patience. Lilacs sometimes take their time. During this time, all you have to do is keep the potting soil evenly moist and make sure it never gets really wet.

Normal lilacs can be propagated by cuttings that are cut from the mother plant and the leaves are removed from the lower area. So the cuttings can go directly into the garden soil or into pots, they usually sprout.

Root suckers from the mother plant often sprout when placed in potting soil or garden soil.

In the case of a grafted lilac that produces neither fertile seeds nor its own offshoots, propagation by cuttings is the only chance of getting a new lilac (clone). With some cultivars, however, even this type of propagation should not lead to success.

Lilac ground shoots – the automatic propagation

The common lilac puts out shoots from the ground; the lilac sometimes too, especially as a grafted lilac from the rootstock. You can dig up the ground shoots of the normal lilac and put them in the desired place as soon as they are strong enough. Of course, you can also plant ground shoots of the lilac, but you should know on which substrate it grows, instead of a wild lilac, a privet could also come out.

The area near the property line should remain “lilac-free”, i.e. planting distance and space to destroy offshoots. Otherwise you may have to deal with neighbors who despise lilacs and who are already on their way to the lawyer for every soil instinct; or discuss with a law enforcement officer in your community that lilacs are blacklisted and your lilac just sent a stolon over the fence.

It has been on the black list since the last nature conservation invasiveness assessment by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation in 2013. The assessment showed that it could displace native species at certain locations. However, the lilac is only on the management list, with recommendations for action: If it spreads on public land, it should e.g. B. cut off close to the ground or grazed, public relations is recommended. But don’t be fooled. You are allowed to plant ordinary lilacs in the garden. The foothills can be managed if the lilac is not directly on the fence and you cut the newly appearing small lilacs close to the ground every few years. Or just dig it up and sit somewhere else or use it to design a hedge.

You should also avoid spreading lilac trimmings outdoors. This type of disposal not only helps the lilac in its immodest plans of conquest, but is also forbidden under penalty of punishment. You can get rid of shrub cuttings for free at the public composting facilities, or speak to the organizer of the local Easter bonfire.

The breeding pot

To sow lilacs you need a seed pot and potting soil. The robust lilac is a good opportunity to experiment with your own ideas away from purchased growing sets.

Whether you use purchased potting soil or put the lilac straight into the soil in which it will later grow is a matter of taste. Lilac knows the microbes of the native garden soil. Actually, there is no reason to put the seed in a germ-free environment. If he grows in real soil right away, he will be “faced with real life” early on, which could make him more resilient. In addition, it is a lot cheaper to get a little (guaranteed uncontaminated) topsoil in the garden or in the nearest building materials store with a bucket and maybe mix in a little sand than to buy ready-made potting soil.

Whether you sow the lilacs in seed pots and then prick them out later (if they are strong enough) or sow them individually in larger pots from which you place them in the garden or let them grow for a while as tub lilacs is also a matter of taste. Pricking out is useful when seedlings are to be grown in seed trays in the smallest of spaces, which are then placed outdoors, but this is not absolutely necessary. You can sow each seed individually. Then the young plant has enough space from the start to form its own roots and will do so eagerly.

The care of young lilacs

When the lilac seedling has developed this first pair of leaves after the cotyledons, it has also used up the supply of nutrients in the seed and must now feed itself.

A lilac usually does this quite well. If it is normal garden soil, it is enough for the lilac without any fertilizer. However, it must be a naturally cultivated garden. In other words, an area in which plants grow and plants also rot, so that a garden soil is created with the necessary soil life. In gardens trying to maintain balance with all sorts of blessings from the chemical plant, a lilac might need to be fed extra fertilizer. However, there may be too much nitrogen in the soil anyway, which could damage it. Without a soil analysis, a recommendation for fertilization cannot really be given here.

Grafted lilacs are fertilized depending on the substrate, i.e. the plant on which the lilac was placed and which provides the roots. True-rooted lilacs are often not as strong or frugal as the normal (“wild”) lilacs, they benefit from some (non-nitrogen-rich) complete fertilizer and then show significantly more and larger flowers.

The lilacs in the pot do not have enough soil around them in the usual pot sizes to be able to feed on them, they need some long-term fertilizer at the start and at the start of each season.

If you plan to plant lilacs as a hedge around the property, you don’t necessarily need to buy very many plants from a “common lilac”. You can get seeds from him, set cuttings, transplant runners and plant them all together along the property line. If you want to propagate lilacs, it’s an adventure. Only sometimes a beautiful lilac comes out of a cutting again.

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